open thread – April 13-14, 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.

{ 1,706 comments… read them below }

  1. Rockhopper

    In the absence of the horror stories we read here daily, how do you decide when it is time to move on from a job? I am at a job that is stable, pays me fairly (although I’m not getting rich) and has decent benefits. I am vested in my retirement account and next year will be up to 25 days of PTO. Everyone here, from the CEO to the Customer Service Rep, is polite and respectful at least on the surface. I am very good at what I do and nobody else here has my particular skillset. I should also add than I am a decade from retirement and my life situation means I need PTO and flexibility to use it, which I have here.
    But. I am in a position with no pathway to promotion, even though I’ve taken over multiple responsibilities that belonged to higher ups who left (and those positions were not be refilled). And even these new responsibilities don’t keep me nearly busy enough, so I have too much time to fill. There are areas where I could add a lot of value, but that keeps being overlooked even though I have brought it up more than once. It doesn’t help that I have a manager doesn’t understand what I do, who couldn’t manage his way out of a bag and who is, I think, a little intimidated by me although I am not a particularly intimidating person.
    I go through these thoughts every few months. To stay or to go? How do you decide when both sides have so many pros and cons?

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I think if I were in your situation, I would probably not actively job search but just keep an eye out for potential opportunities, and if something looks interesting, apply for it. In many ways, you’re in the ideal job search situation—lots of people feel pressure to find something right now because their current workplace is toxic, they’re unemployed, or their spouse is moving for grad school or another job.

      1. Princess Loopy

        This for sure. Look around at available jobs when you feel like it, talk to trusted folks in your network about the idea of finding something new, and take the opportunity to be really choosy about what you consider.

        The added bonus is that if you do decide it’s time move with more urgency, you’ve already gotten the process started.

      2. Jerry Vandesic

        I agree. Look around, but be picky. Figure out what you want. A promotion? Increased pay? At least 25 days PTO? Better benefits? Then, look for opportunities that meet your needs. Jobs that don’t get culled. It might take a while, but when you do find something new it will be enough to make a difference compared to your current job.

      3. Mephyle

        Agree with these suggestions, but also be prepared that nothing better will present itself and you will stay in the job. Aas mentioned by numerous people below, stability, a sane, polite workplace and good PTO are not things to give up lightly, especially given that you would be an older jobseeker and closer to retirement than many other jobseekers.
        I would do a parallel quest to look for fulfillment outside the job; it could be a side business, volunteering, a serious hobby (that could also evolve to something that generates income)…. Any of these could provide an environment where you can get satisfaction by managing things to add value the way it should be done.

    2. Caledonia

      For me, if the job isn’t toxic, then I leave when I have gotten the most out of it I possibly can / can add no further value / can learn all I want to.

      Sometimes you just gotta take a leap of faith, you know? Jump into the unknown.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        There’s a reality in being older, though, that makes job security really important. Age discrimination is incredibly prevalent. I’d be cautious about moving into a less secure position, because I wouldn’t want to be job searching 5 years from retirement. Sucks.

        1. Rockhopper

          Yes, that is a big pro for staying in my situation. You don’t want to screw up the last few years before retirement.

          1. Triplestep

            The lack of drama in the interpersonal relationships, and the flexibility and amount of PTO are key here. I’m about 10 – 15 years from retirement, and I would kill for these things. In fact I am actively considering jobs that would be a step down in responsibility. I don’t care that there’s no pathway to promotion … my job is stressful enough, although your mileage may vary.

            Maybe you should go back and read Alison’s earlier entry this week about asking for raise? Seems like you’re in the exact situation she described as someone who took on more responsibility and never got a salary adjustment.

        2. Fortitude Jones

          Ahhhh, yes. This is something I hadn’t considered. Taking blind leaps when you’re 30 plus years away from retirement is much different when it’s only 10.

        3. nonymous

          I would also say that the last 5 – 10 years of FTE are definitely “make hay” periods. Either one has advanced to the point that their pay is due to institutional knowledge/networking, or the work has become routine. In the latter, often the real gain is to set in motion whatever is needed for retirement. For example, if someone wants to entrepreneur their retirement or move to a different locale or spend a lot of time in a particular hobby. Being employed FT at a position that doesn’t exhaust you – while not very sexy – leaves space to do the legwork to research, network and learn new skills as needed. There are a lot of people out there with amazing retirement goals (RV around the US! move to Costa Rica!), but don’t have a practical plan how to execute it. For example, living in an RV means having to downsize to <400sq feet – that's not going to happen overnight! And to get a residency permit in CR has income thresholds. None of this would prevent goals, but it's a negative emotional blow to have to spend a year or so dealing with legal/practical stuff after retirement is official.

          1. Anonymoose

            I dont’ understand how folks are affording to retire in Costa Rica – it’s just as expensive as the US! And for much lower standards of living. Now, maybe I could understand Panama…

        4. Screenwriter

          Yes, I totally agree with this. As you get to this age, a secure retirement is infinitely more valuable than a promotion but a possibly less secure situation. That should be your top priority in weighing the pros and cons, because that’s what will seriously matter for the rest of your life. As I get to retirement age, I am now seeing the value of really having kept an eye on saving, investing, and vesting in my pension for all those years; and it’s like all of a sudden, the whole “promotion” thing becomes far less crucial.

    3. Irene Adler

      I’m finding that actually interviewing for other positions helps me see how my current position measures up to what’s out there. It also helps me to realize what I really value, what I want and what I can actually have.

    4. Muriel Heslop

      Have you looked at all to see what else might be out there for you? It sounds like you are on the fence but maybe there is a job out there for you that has more of what you would like. Ten years is a long time and I would love for you find something that’s a better fit if you can. Good luck!

    5. Schnoodle

      It sounds like you’re bored, but in a stable job where you are confident in your skill set and have the flexibility and PTO you require for work life balance.

      Personally, I wouldn’t budge unless it was for an awesome company/position you’ve been dying to get into.

      A good respectful workplace with decent benefits and flexibility is hard to come by in my opinion.

      1. Rockhopper

        Yes, that is my problem. I’ve seen too much of the bad stuff on AAM and I don’t want to end up with a job like that this late in my career.

        1. General Ginger

          Rockhopper, I’d maybe put some low-key feelers out there and do some interviews — that way, you’re open to finding a position or a company that really grabs you. But I wouldn’t leave for anything other than a really stellar opportunity, were I in your position.

    6. Detective Amy Santiago

      This is actually the best position to be in when you’re job searching! You’re not desperate, so you can afford to be choosy about which positions you apply/interview for. Start looking around at your options and submit a resume when it sounds good.

    7. ThatGirl

      I had some of these thoughts at my last job – the pay was decent, I had a very flexible schedule, I liked my coworkers – but I felt kinda bored and/or not doing what I “really” wanted to do. I did occasional job searching but nothing panned out.

      And then I got laid off and the decision was made for me :P

    8. Apples to Apples

      Not sure whether your skillset lends itself to this, but have you thought about freelancing or consulting on the side? It’s flexible and could allow you to feel the fulfillment you may not be getting at work right now.

    9. Jennifer

      Can you find another job in the first place to move on TO? That’s my only determiner, saying this as someone who can’t find anything. I would have long since left if I could. You can look around all you like, but it only really depends on if you can find something else.

    10. Menacia

      Wow, I could have written this post! Feeling the same way you do I have started to test the waters. Putting out feelers has been good, due to my experience and education, the feedback has been positive. I am being very picky as far as opportunities to pursue. It’s a great position to be in and if nothing else, I will be able to compare my options. Working on my resume and submitting applications is not a wasted exercise, especially when you have time on your hands.

    11. Master Bean Counter

      I’m in the same boat now. Just keep an eye to the job boards and see if anything that looks interesting comes up. You’ll be surprised how much better you can spot red flags at a company when you’re not desperate. You have the luxury of being able to be picky, enjoy it.

    12. Ainomiaka

      Agree that this is a good time to carefully job hunt. You don’t have to take anything that isn’t better. You can always say no. And there’s much less disincentive to ask quality of life questions. You don’t have to worry if they think asking how much people actually use PTO looks bad because you’re self selecting out of companies that have a problem with that.

    13. Bea

      In your case I would just casually look for more choices but something stellar would have to pop out to take a bite at it.

      My reasons for leaving have always been relocation or insane bosses. I’ll also eventually leave my current position barring I’ll be able to convince them they only need me part time and getting other gigs on the side because I’m so incredibly bored with just the one section of my skills being tapped into.

      I’ve noticed boredom is a reason many others leave. But so close to retirement with all the perks set, I wouldn’t be very mobile minded.

      1. Kelly L.

        Yeah, the way this has usually played out in my life is wanting or needing to move for personal reasons, thus necessitating leaving the job in the old place.

    14. Mockingjay

      I started drafting a similar comment yesterday. I am closer to retirement (2 or 3 more years), so I am not switching jobs or careers. But my role has definitely changed – the market for what I do is considerably reduced and my skills aren’t relevant. I’m a technical writer and my local job market has shifted to more results-oriented engineering tasks. Documentation is minimal and only cursorily edited. My workload is very light and consists of proofreading and some basic formatting.

      I’m bored most days. I’ve volunteered in some other areas of the company which helps. The upside is that stress is almost nonexistent and I go home at regular hours every day.

      [Postscript: I didn’t comment on Tuesday’s thread on whether executives need to proofread their emails; I was too busy clutching my pearls as one more nail was driven into the coffin of this career. Guess I’m a dinosaur clinging to my thesaurus while I delicately erase the carbon copy in my typewriter…]

      1. Me--Blargh

        I’m a technical writer and my local job market has shifted to more results-oriented engineering tasks. Documentation is minimal and only cursorily edited. My workload is very light and consists of proofreading and some basic formatting.

        Well great, there goes my entire career plan. :(

        1. Mockingjay

          Don’t give up. Tech writing for software documentation is going strong in private industry. My company’s market is defense contracting and the skill set can be pretty narrow I do have prior software doc experience. If I wasn’t so close to retirement, I’d take some refresher courses in XML editors and get back into that.

          1. Fortitude Jones

            Tech writing for software documentation is going strong in private industry.

            Seconded. I keep getting alerts for tons of these jobs in my area (Midwest), so there’s still hope.

        2. Ann O.

          It depends on why you want to do technical writing and what you envision it to be. The job role has been shifting across many industries from feature based to interaction based. IMHO, that’s a good thing across the board. But if what you want is to write manuals, copyedit, or do print-oriented templates, it could mean your hopes are misaligned with the current trends.

          1. Me--Blargh

            I’m fine with that–I just need some time to learn more software skills. The problem is that I have no access to any way of learning them until I have an income. I’ll have to pay for it and get it elsewhere–probably can’t get it at work because admins don’t get to do that sort of thing.

            1. Ann O.

              You can learn DITA, Markdown, HTML5, and CSS with open source tools. DITA is easier with a quality program like Oxygen or XMetal, but it’s all open source and there are freeware editors. Also, way more important than learning a specific language is reading up on the underlying theory. If you know what information mapping, minimalism, task-oriented documentation, etc. means, you’re looking at the right things. If you don’t, I’d suggest starting there. There are some great blogs.

              I also have a bias for recommending crossover into learning basic UX principles, but that’s probably driven as much by my current niche and personal interests as anything else.

            2. Easily Amused

              There are tons of free/low cost online resources for learning to code – Kahn Academy, in some places, you can get access to Lynda.com via a local library card, Udemy, Coursera, Codecademy, etc. If you’re a woman, look into the Grace Hopper Program at Fullstack Academy. A friend of mine just completed it – tuition free!

            3. Alicat

              Look into what your public library offers. Our public library (Western Canada) offers all kinds of free online courses through Lynda.com , Gale Courses etc.

    15. hermit crab

      I am in a very similar position to you, except I’m earlier in my career. I’m generally kind of burnt out and on any given day can swing between “OK, if a little stuck” and “OMG why do I even care anymore, I have to get out of here.” I work on very long-term projects (they can literally span decades) and no matter how sick I get of certain aspects of my job/this company, I feel like there are still things I want to see through. Sometimes.

      I’m actually pursuing service year opportunities like AmeriCorps, with the idea that I’d either come back to this company afterward or use it as a jumping off point for something completely different. Obviously that is not feasible for a lot of people, but I wonder if there’s some way you can get some mental distance from your current position to figure out exactly what it is you want.

    16. Anonymous Poster

      It depends on where you are in your career. For example, I’d generally think someone young in their career would prefer to see more advancement so that their pay trajectory is bumped up as high as it can go early on. But, if you have a family, then a comfortable job where while you may not advance, will see you through whatever stage of life you’re in, I could see a case for sticking around.

      It’s also normal to move on simply because you’re bored. You’re moving on to find new challenges, which is a very normal reason to look around. Or someone late in their career may stick it out until retirement, so that they have steady income, not a ton of stress, and then glide gracefully into retirement.

      It really just depends. At the very least, interviewing won’t hurt you, and maybe you’ll find a place that really clicks. Or not. You have the very real advantage of being able to be very, very picky. Keep in mind that these letters show you the outliers, and not the vast majority of peoples’ work lives. Chances are wherever you end up will be a little quirky, but not a dumpster fire. But you can afford to find that real diamond of a job if you want since you’re fine where you are.

    17. The OG Anonsie

      This is one of those jobs-as-dating things. People will stick in both no matter how little they’re actually benefiting them because they don’t see a reason to leave. Something big and bad has to happen for folks to feel like they have a good enough reason to move on.

      Which is weird, right? Why sit stagnant in something that’s not really enriching your life when you have other options?

    18. Work Wardrobe

      I got three different “good” jobs when I was 58, 60 and 63 (job changes = we moved away, then moved back). So it’s definitely possible to find them.

      That said, I am at a career level where I have had the same title for all 3 jobs, but I’m fine with that.

      You know you can take your retirement account with you, so that’s not an issue…

    19. Ali G

      I think you should consider a “passive job search.” Are you on LinkedIn? Either create an account or update your existing one (you can turn off the notifications so everyone is not pinged that you updated your profile) to really sell yourself. Then actively seek out companies and other people to grow your network. A lot of recruiting happens on LinkedIn and if you have marketable skills you might get noticed.
      Then you can make a choice based on the options you have.
      You can also “turn on” the option to let recruiters know you are open to hearing from them.

    20. When it rains...

      If you have a lot of downtime at work, maybe take some online classes? Or do some research around your interests? It could be good to start thinking about major projects you’d like to dive into once you are retired and have the freedom to do what you want!!

    21. Michelle

      I relate to this so much. I wanted to ask the same thing but couldn’t quite figure out how to word it so it made sense and you did so perfectly. I will be following the comments.

    22. Jady

      Personally, it would come down to money for me. Would you get a significant increase elsewhere? Would you be able to apply to new jobs as the promotion position you’ve been wanting? Would that position typically fit in with your needs (flexibility, etc)?

      If yes to all 3, then I would start searching, but be choosy about accepting a new place, make sure it’s a good fit.

      Otherwise I’d just stick around. The benefits are significant. Push harder for the promotion, go above heads if possible, in the other areas you could provide value… if it’s an option, just start doing it. Forgiveness over permission and all that. If you still have idle time at work, use it to learn new things you can add to your resume.

    23. Oxford Coma

      I would keep the job, and seek additional career fulfillment through alternate routes such as professional societies, speaking engagements, publications, etc. The context you’ve provided (fair environment with decent bennies and flexibility, your age, and so on) would make me very reluctant to leave.

    24. Not So NewReader

      The traditional decision making model calls for a list of pros and cons.

      A new model calls for ONE VERY good reason. Find a very good reason to stay or to go. Probably looking at other jobs would help you find that very good reason.

      I will say that if you are truly concerned about landing in a toxic environment then that might be your answer right there. So you could sum it up as, “I am better off staying put because I know I have it okay here.”

      One suggestion I would make is how about gearing up for a gig that you can do when you are retired? This could mean taking courses or perhaps ramping up a hobby you already have. You have ten years to build something for yourself to do once you retire. I am a conservative person, so I would be drawn to an idea similar to this one.

    25. Rockhopper

      Thanks, everyone. You’ve given me lots to think about. I do get that I’m in a better situation than many.

    26. KX

      You know how I knew? Ordinary, reasonable requests started to enrage me. These would be things that I’d been doing the whole time, too–not new or out-of-scope responsibilities. I did not act on my rage, but I listened to it. This is a nice office with friendly people and good friends, that offers lots of flexibility and paid time off, and yet…

      I don’t need to be somewhere that made me so unpredictably angry, and the people I work with deserve willing assistance. It’s just time for me to go.

      I am actively looking, but I am being very choosy. What has been interesting is that I can see in potential new jobs similarities to the things I am doing that I am tired of, and it is helping me focus on what I really want to look for. It was a whole big revelation the other day that I have not been posting long enough here to get into.

      But you guys! It was an amazing revelation!

      1. Canadian Teapots

        That’s… really concerning, actually?

        Sudden and unpredictable onsets of anger sound like a pit stop with a therapist may be in order to clarify the true underlying cause, be it job satisfaction or something else.

        1. Anna

          Not really? I mean, sure if you’re experiencing that in other places, but if it’s really focused around work and you can identify it for what it is, I don’t think therapy is necessary. Sometimes the cause and effect are exactly what they appear to be and changing the cause will erase the effect.

          1. Canadian Teapots

            The thing is, though, is I get wanting to roll one’s eyes at doing and redoing the same basic-request things that are in one’s job description, because humans tend to value routine but not to the point where it’s the major aspect of things. Fair point.

            But actual episodes of rage? That’s so far off the meter of ordinariness in my experience that if I were to experience those incidents my first impulse would be to wonder if I’ve accidentally been exposed to a mood alterant.

            1. KX

              “ENRAGED” was overstating my case. Preposterously inconvenienced and profoundly exasperated are better descriptors.

      2. Luna

        I get this, this was kind of what happened to me too. I realized I was getting more and more annoyed at basic everyday requests that I had happily been doing for years. That was the sign.

    27. Gerry

      I am in a very similar situation, except I also have a defined benefit pension plan and additional sick days that accumulate monthly. The longer I stay, the bigger my pension. I’m not sure how big your organization is, but would it be possible to find lateral movement to a different (better) manager?

      I know there is one prominent HR blogger who says you should never stay in a place that doesn’t “grow your flame” and to some extent I agree. But we do get to an age where our priorities become more personal, and what we need from our employers changes. If you remain open to new opportunities, you can negotiate benefits that work for you, and be prepared to walk away if you can’t get them. That would be my advice.

    28. LilySparrow

      It sounds like you feel you could do better, but don’t have a specific opportunity on the table to compare to.
      You can’t really ever solve a hypothetical question like that. So look around and see if you do find something better. Having the other side of the equation be really concrete is going to make the decision much easier.

    29. RB

      We’re in similar situations. I look at things in my current job that other jobs don’t have and those usually persuade me to stay here. Things like a good retirement package, a short commute, and a decent boss. I could find one or two of those at another place, but there might be a slight pay cut. It seems unlikely I would find all three of those at another place and not have to take a pay cut or reduced vacation time. I’ve been in worse jobs and I don’t want to risk winding up in another one.

    30. Not a Morning Person

      Another consideration is your PTO, holidays, and time off flexibility. If your employer is reasonably flexible about your use of your time-off benefits, then that is something to value. Too often, starting over at a new position requires starting at the bottom for accruing PTO and for developing a reputation where your manager will be comfortable allowing you flexibility.
      I am in a similar situation. I am not engaged in my work any more and it is significantly below the level of responsibility and pay I have had in previous jobs. But when we relocated, it was the only thing I could find. As I look around, the whole region pays less than the national average, which is incredibly frustrating. However, I have a reasonably flexible manager, a pretty easy commute, and because I am pretty healthy, I use the stingy amount of PTO for vacation and not sick leave. Just offering a perspective on PTO as another consideration.
      Of course, if you are really bored or really disengaged, then finding something to be excited about may overcome some of the negatives that might come with starting over at a new organization. That’s what I’m looking for, but I really need time off benefits and scheduling flexibility. Figure out what you most want, need, and value from your current or a future job and keep that in mind as you explore your options. Good luck!

    31. MissDissplaced

      If you’re a decade out, and the job is stable with no layoffs pending, I would stick it out and stay put!
      Jobs are just that sometimes, jobs. When you do retire you can be free to pursue something else for a few years if you want to that suits your personal tastes.

    32. Buu

      Does your industry have Networking events, conventions or mentorship programs you could join as a mentor? Perhaps getting involved in something like that might naturally open up opportunities whilst you can actively contribute something esp to people starting out.

      1. TootsNYC

        I agree with the idea of finding a way to teach or coach or mentor–that’s very enlivening for me. And it can turn all those now-mundane tasks into fodder for the next teaching session.

    33. I Didn’t Kill Kenny

      Agree with much of what’s been said.

      First, do you use that PTO to give yourself a reset and refresh?
      Looking elsewhere can definitely help you appreciate what’s out there and what you already have. Additional PTO is often something that can be negotiated in a new job.
      Do you have interests/hobbies outside of work that can give you some fulfillment?

      A little boring can equal no drama, not something to be taken lightly, as this blog demonstrates.

      And I hate to say it but 10 yrs from retirement – ageism is out there when you job search.

    34. Safetykats

      Is there any possibility of a different job at the same company? I feel for you as regards not feeling challenged or well -utilized, but my sister and her husband both changed jobs a year ago, after more than 20 years in the same place, and seemed to have no understanding that as a new employee you generally just don’t get the flexibility you do after decades. They’ve gone from pretty much comingband going as they pleased as long as they got their work done to long, specific hours and a long commute, plus travel (for her) and lots of weekend days (for him). the Rest of us are left to make up for this with their kids, and lucky for us all that we can do that, but I’m still gobsmacked that they were stunned at the change.

      It’s really hard to put a price on the kind of flexibility that lets you take care of what you need to, especially if you’re well taken care of otherwise.

  2. HALP!

    Hi AAMers,

    Happy Friday! I have my first-ever situational interview coming up next week (I am the interviewee) and I have no idea what to expect. Obviously I’m doing research on likely questions, etc, but is there anything else I can do to prep? I’m really excited about this position, and would like to make a great impression.

    Secondly, the firm’s dress code is more professional than I’m used to (think law or banking), but they wear jeans on Fridays. My interviewer specifically had HR tell me that they will all be in jeans, and it’s okay for me to come in jeans. Would black jeans and a bright blue blazer look out of place? Or should I dress in muted professional dress clothes as I would for any other interview?

    1. Schnoodle

      Skip the jeans and go with business casual type, in my opinion. So you’re both dressed up somewhat, yet not in a stuffy suit when you’ve been specifically told they’d be in jeans.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      If they made a point of telling you that it was okay to wear jeans, I think your black jeans and blazer idea would be perfect.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Yup, agreed. And wear dress shoes so you aren’t too casual – you still want to be just a slight step up from everyone else when interviewing.

    3. Smudge

      Hi – I can’t help with the first half of your question (although I wish you luck!) but I currently work in a law firm and actually felt hugely overdressed in my interview, even though it wasn’t casual Friday – I came in a suit (dress, matching jacket, heels) and the partner interviewing me (much older) was also in a suit, but my future boss was just in a sweater and pants with nice jewellery. I think law firms at least are often less formal than people imagine from movies etc, so I think black jeans and a bright blue blazer would be absolutely fine – although you could potentially wear heels if you’re still worried about looking too casual, and make sure the little details like jewellery, hair etc. are all looking polished.

      1. Morning Glory

        If the hiring manager specifically said that it was ok for her to wear jeans and that everyone else would be in jeans…why not?

        1. Canadian Teapots

          It runs the risk of someone not knowing the interviewee was told “wear jeans”, and unfairly dismissing them for not appearing to know what professional attire looks like.

          Were I in the interviewee’s position I would wear what the ordinary dress code says, and if asked, say, “I was told about your casual dress day but didn’t want to presume upon that.” So it demonstrates you’re not just trying to show off, you’re cognizant of past communications, but also you’re aware that ‘newbies’ often are held to stricter standards than old-timers who can be cut a little slack because the folks around them know the score.

          1. Artemesia

            This. So often places are not that organized and someone who is himself quite casually dressed and thinks are no big deal might give a bum steer to the candidate while others in the firm MAY care about dress. I have seen men also give women bad advice because the norms are different sometimes. I think dark jeans and a blazer probably works fine but I’d probably go with business casual but not jeans in a more formal place.

        2. Canadian Teapots

          That all being said, posters below have made good arguments for paying attention to the specific mention of jeans, but keeping it classy within the parameters of a more casual day. So take my above with a rather large caveat of “only do this if you have reason to believe that you might not be invited to relax your dress code”.

    4. ABK

      I’d go with jeans or black jeans and a blazer since they told you it would be fine, as long as your jeans fit you well. They likely will not be paying attention to this at all so don’t worry about it!

    5. Lisa B

      Think of it this way- if you wear jeans, they will think “that’s fine, we said it was ok.” But if dress like you normally would for an interview, they’re more likely to be impressed that you still treated it wanting to show your best self.

      1. Jadelyn

        …or they’ll take it as a sign she might not be a good cultural fit, too stiff/inflexible to adjust to the situation, or any number of other things. You can’t say for sure how they’ll react, especially when they made such a point of specifically saying “we’ll all be there in jeans”.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          This is my thought too. They made a point of telling you that you can wear jeans and if you show up in a full suit, it makes you look like you can’t follow directions.

        2. General Ginger

          Agreed. They told you they’ll be in jeans. Dressing them up with a blazer sounds absolutely perfect; wearing a full suit when they said you don’t have to would appear like you didn’t listen.

        3. Fiennes

          I agree. Dressing up a pair of black jeans with a blazer, nice shirt beneath, etc, seems like the way to go here. Otherwise the message sent is, “I don’t listen to clear, explicit information about the culture here.”

        4. Zennish

          This. Personally, I’d find it mildly off-putting as an interviewer if I told you specifically it was okay to dress down, and you dressed up. It would strike me as a little uptight, or at least wouldn’t further any rapport.

        5. Not a Morning Person

          I think an unmatched slacks and blazer would still be appropriate. It’s more casual than a matched suit but still comes across a little more professional than jeans. Although the black jeans and blue blazer sound great! Make sure your shoes are nice and look well-kept, not scuffed or worn at the heel.
          Good luck!

      2. Lady By The Lake

        As a lawyer, if I specifically told a candidate that it was jeans day and they showed up in full lawyer regalia, I would assume that it is someone who is too green and unsure of themselves. It would be a huge black mark for me.

        1. Sunflower

          I agree. They told you that you could wear jeans so i think the black jeans are perfect

    6. ANon.

      If your interviewer went out of his/her way to let you know that it’s ok to wear jeans and that everyone else will be in jeans, I would wear jeans. IMO, disregarding that information after they specifically told you would reflect poorly on you. Also, if you dress like you belong, that may help them subconsciously see you as belonging. But definitely dress them up a professionally as you can. The way you described sounds perfect.

    7. Casual Dave

      If you’ve been officially told jeans are right, wear jeans, if you like wearing jeans and/or do not like being overdressed.
      Because either
      1) they are completely fine with jeans
      Or
      2) they are the kind of weird shites who say one thing and mean another.

      To me being overdressed is a symbol of weakness and supplication. I want to feel equal to the interviewer. Ymmv

    8. Annie Moose

      This is probably pretty obvious, but if you do wear jeans, I’d say go with dark (or even black) jeans and make sure they’re in very good condition (no visible wearing, no holes, no studs, etc.), just to be on the safe side.

    9. CatCat

      This is a tough one. I’d personally feel uncomfortable wearing jeans at an interview, but it also is awkward to be the most overdressed person in the room. Maybe khaki’s and the blue blazer, a white top, and nude shoes?

    10. Panda

      On Monday, I had a situational interview for an internal promotion. (I posted about it on last week’s open thread). I was asked:

      How do you build relationships with internal clients and outside clients/vendors?

      What will you do if one of your Teapot Managers try to dump work on you? (I would be an Associate Teapot Manager who gets her work assigned by the director, not the Teapot Managers).

      How do you learn best? (He stressed I would have a lot of information to learn quickly)

      What will you do when you have questions?

      They are not earth-shattering questions and may not be what you mean. I hope this helps a bit.

    11. Jen RO

      I think your outfit of black jeans and blazer would be great. If they went out of their way to tell you everyone would wear jeans I am pretty sure they mean you should wear them too!

    12. nep

      To me the black jeans and blazer sounds great, given the interviewer’s indications.
      Re the interview — One of the most useful things I’ve learned (in some cases the hard way) is to have a good grasp on how you’re going to close each answer. Goes without saying, but this element can sometimes be overlooked. It helps avoid trailing off and the awkwardness that can come with that. Not to be too scripted, but just having a good sense of how you’re going to wrap up each answer can help in a lot of ways.
      Good luck!

      1. ballpitwitch

        This is one of those situations where I am so glad this is an option for me – I always wear dresses to interviews. You can dress them up or down depending on the shoes/accessories and avoid this whole thing.

        1. many bells down

          Yeah I have the “Deborah” dress from ScottEVest – plain black knit, conservative neckline, knee-length, and has pockets. I can dress that up or down as much as I want. If they weren’t so pricy I’d have one in every color.

    13. AnotherJill

      If you dress up after getting this information, I think you would risk looking like you would not fit into their culture. I think your plan sounds great.

    14. When it rains...

      I think that’s awesome that they told you to wear jeans! Black jeans and a blue blazer sound great! Alternately, you could do dark blue jeans and a black blazer. Just make sure they’re “dressy” jeans and wear a nice top and shoes so you look modern and professional. Break a leg!

    15. Eye of Sauron

      Aaackkkk this would be so hard for me!

      Ok, based on what you said I would wear jeans (OMG I can’t believe I said that), but I would wear ‘Trouser Denim” and a blazer.

      So think tailored pants that are made of denim. I’ll try to find a picture and link to describe what I’m referring to.

      1. A.

        That is a great idea. I don’t think any of my jeans in my closet are appropriate for an interview.

    16. Boredatwork

      That sounds like a very nice combination. I think ignoring their instructions would been seen as a negative, since they went out of their way to tell you.

    17. Anony Non (UK)

      Every role I’ve had since graduating has had a situational aspect to interviewing and I now use them when hiring. I echo thinking about how you would close your responses, as well as remembering that it’s better to take a breath to think through your response so you don’t ramble.

    18. Observer

      Remember casual =/= unkempt, sloppy, unpolished or “clubby”.

      As long as what you are wearing fits right (not too tight), and is in good condition and everything else is put together and polished, you’re outfit sounds right.

    19. DDJ

      Be prepared to talk about actual situations you’ve encountered. And you’re probably going to get questions about “what’s your greatest strength/weakness” (ugh), short-term vs long-term career goals, why are you interested in this position specifically. Sometimes you’ll be asked about your values, who’s the best boss you ever worked for (and why were they the best). My company has a pretty standard set of situational interview questions, and they boil down to the following:
      -Organizational ability/stress/resiliency – how do you deal with constant interruptions to your work, what do you do when your day doesn’t go as planned; describe the types of situations that cause you stress at work and what you do to manage yourself in these situations; tell me about a setback you experienced and how you dealt with it; what sorts of things frustrate you, either in a job or within a company
      -Detail vs ambiguity – tell me about a time you were confused with a request and the steps you took to get clarification; describe a time when you had to take action without having the full picture, including why you needed to take action and the end result
      -Dealing with change – how do you cope with changing processes/circumstances (and tell me about a time you had to adjust quickly to change(s) you had no control over)
      -Conflict/team/work style – describe a time you had a disagreement with a teammate, and the steps you took to resolve the conflict; describe the type of work environment you work best in (predictable/structured/task-oriented vs fluctuating/fast-paced/changing, team vs independent, preferred amount of interaction with people)

      Basically, most questions are going to be “tell me about a time when…” so come up with work examples demonstrating your hard and soft skills. They’re not going to want hypotheticals, although if that’s all you’ve got, explain what actions you think you would take and WHY.

      Additionally, when it comes to things like “conflict,” it doesn’t need to be “my coworker punched me and I punched them back.” It can be “We disagreed on the timelines for this specific project, so I suggested we both create what we believed to be realistic timelines, with justifications for the timing, and then come together to see where we had common ground and where the actual disagreement was.” The important thing is not to just talk shit about your former coworkers – it doesn’t tend to go over well.

      Good luck!

    20. smoke tree

      For situational interviews, Alison’s interviewing guide is really helpful in giving some direction about how to answer the questions, as well as a list of common questions to help you prepare. I think the main thing is to prepare some examples for likely questions so you’re not stuck grasping for a good example.

      I’ve also been told that interviewers were impressed that I wasn’t afraid to take a moment to prepare my answer before diving into it. A rambling, directionless answer is the bane of the situational question, so you want to make sure you have the basic STAR structure in your mind before you start, and make sure to end on a solid note about how your actions had some kind of positive effect instead of trailing off awkwardly. Good luck!

    21. Catnpoodle

      I would be inclined to wear more conservative, boring blue jeans and not a bright colored blazer/shirt. Black jeans somehow are less formal, as in too much like leggings or giving rockstar vibes. Along the lines of J Crew styling.

    22. Anion

      IMO the jeans and blazer, with nice shoes and shirt, sounds perfect. It’s jeans, so you won’t be overdressed and you show you can listen when they tell you things, but you’re not just in jeans and an untucked shirt or something, either.

    23. RB

      Middle of the road: black straight-leg khakis, black or dark grey not-too-dressy blazer (not a blazer that’s part of a suit) and nice flats or low-heel shoes. Jewelry that you’d normally wear to a business-casual event. Maybe a scarf if that’s your thing.

    24. nym

      I would probably do an end-run around it and wear a dress. Not a fancy dress with blazer, just a middling-casual dress, print or pattern, short sleeves, mid-calf length. It looks neither dressed down nor dressed up.

    25. WillowSunstar

      If you are nervous about the jeans, you could go with a pair of nice khakis and a non-matching blazer. Khakis are still worn in a lot of companies, even on “casual” day.

  3. L.

    Is the last day at a job supposed to be insane and annoying or is this just yet another reason why I made a good life choice in leaving?? Ugh, guys, we’ve had 2.5 weeks to go over all of this and it’s all in my transition document.

    1. PB

      My last days have usually been pretty chill, so I’d say it’s another reason you made a good choice. Just plan to get through the day, and do something nice for yourself tonight.

      Congrats on your last day!

      1. Schnoodle

        My last few days were crazy at Old Job. And I had made a department manual (I’m an HR dpt of One), sent out updates on leaves, benefits, etc. Yet two days before my last day you’re going to freak out? Seriously.

        Just know its your last day, last day of crazy for a while :)

      2. L.

        Ugh, I wish it was chill! I’ve already been pulled into three or four things this morning. My team is supposed to take me out to lunch today and I’m just hoping the break in the day gives everyone a chance to calm down.

        1. Ali G

          Hopefully it will be a 2 beer lunch – sounds like you earned it!
          (and yes – this is a sign you made the right decision)

    2. Anonymous Educator

      It’s supposed to be chill, and if it’s not, then, yes, that is yet another reason why you made a good choice in leaving. I know someone who, on her last day at a job, was being assigned projects to do, and she was like “What? This is my last day. No.”

      1. Anonymous Educator

        And by “projects” I don’t mean something that could be completed in a couple of hours—long-term projects.

      2. L.

        People keep being like, “Oh, you’ll volunteer to help with this after you leave, right?” Like… no. I know you’re a charity, but you’ve been paying me for my work for 3+ years and I don’t intend to give you any reason to think work should be free.

        1. PB

          People keep being like, “Oh, you’ll volunteer to help with this after you leave, right?”

          … the heck? Wow. I’m glad you’re getting out.

        2. The Other Dawn

          That makes it sound to me like they aren’t prepared for your departure and no one bothered to read your transition document. Two and a half weeks ago they probably thought, “Eh we have a lot of time.” And now they’re like, “OMG L is leaving in a few hours!! What are we going to do? Did anyone read the document L wrote??”

          And this is why it seems like you made a good choice to leave. Good luck!

    3. Falling Diphthong

      It’s supposed to be a chill time eating food and trading carefree “remember that time Wakeen got stuck in the copier?” stories. You made a good life choice.

      1. LJL

        yes, it’s supposed to be chill. My last day at Evil Old Job was crazy and evil boss even held me over late! At that point I was so glad to be leaving that I just smile and celebrated a little extra after work.

        1. L.

          Uuuugh god I hope they don’t do that to me. I’m kiiinda hoping to be done early tbh. If they don’t find another few “urgent projects” that need finishing.

          1. designbot

            yeah, ‘just say no.’ I was late to my own going away party at one place, and they even laughed at me for it! I was like welp, maybe you should’ve ramped down my involvement in some of these projects then…

        2. Sandman

          I had the same thing happen at OldJob! Pretty sure they were taking advantage of my conscientiousness (and lack of work-related boundaries, maybe?), but it was so ridiculous.

    4. Bea

      My last day at Job I Loved was hard emotionally but the transition weeks sucked, the person I trained was inept AF.

      The last day at my toxic job was wonderful, I was 110% no efs left and their sudden tasks or questions were easy enough to ramble off. They’re also stupid and had no transfer documents and a horrid temp dropped in as a replacement, so I just puddered along until I literally danced out the door.

      1. Marthooh

        Things your should do BEFORE your last day on the job:

        1. Document the scope of your work and its processes; this includes training your replacement, if applicable.

        2. Document current projects.

        3. Ask your manager and coworkers about other ways to smooth the transition.

        4. NEW: Pick out a play list for literally dancing out the door at the end of your last day.

    5. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

      I think it should be more chill than insane, and the fact that it is insane for you is probably an additional sign that it was a good choice to leave.

      Two jobs ago – during my notice period I spent so much time documenting current procedures and I created a whole packet to hand off to my closest team member (in terms of work – not personally. She actually drove me out, but that a whole different storoy). This team member kept trying to give me more work. Finally on my second to last day I started responding to every email with to-dos (unless it was something that I could do quickly and would involve no follow up) I started responding with “I’d suggest you handle this, as tomorrow is my last day and I will not be here to xxxxxx”. I responded to multiple emails this way, but she kept sending tasks/to-dos. Then on my last day, around midday I handed over a list of open/pending items. She looked at me like I had two heads and asked me “well, what of this list, do you still plan to do?”. I wanted to scream “NONE OF IT B!@&$”.

      I was also contacted about a month after leaving by the dept head asking about something fairly important that I had very clearly marked/documented in like 3 different places. It felt good being able to respond with “It was in the packet of documents I left behind with Evil Team Member. It was the first document within the packet, oh and also left a digital copy in this public folder and email a copy of the digital file to Evil Team Member on my second to last day”.

      1. Mickey Q

        After I received my final check, severance check and we had exchanged goodbye, great to work with you emails, my old boss kept delegating me tasks. He would text and ask if I had set up this week’s wire transfer or handled the such and such issue. I think he had alzheimers and forgot he cancelled my job. Now I’m afraid if I try to use him as a reference he will forget I even worked there (for 13 years).

        1. Bea

          As someone who had a boss develop Alzheimer’s, this just gave me a lot of feelings. Depending on his age, he may just be forgetful it’s not necessarily dementia. I hope for him and his family he’s just forgetful.

          You should ask for a letter of reference because you’ll also run the risk he dies regardless. Unless the place is large enough to get another person to confirm you worked there? The comment makes me feel like it’s small business though.

      2. WillowSunstar

        The person who replaced me at my last job 6 months ago still once in a while IMs me with questions, but we work for the same company. I wound up transferring to a different division.

    6. Can't Sit Still

      If it’s insane and annoying, you’ve made the right decision, and you can leave without any regrets.

    7. lnelson1218

      There was in my history a temp assignment coming to an end as the position was up for elimination and the other members of the team were going to take over (this was in an HR department). All lower members of the team were trying to figure out what the new procedures would be. Management did nothing.
      A few days before my last day, my “I am not even going to do my job” manager gave me a about a dozen folder of new employees. I asked who was going to take this over so I could show them what to do. His response was “oh let’s just handle it as business as usual” and smiled and walked away.
      I didn’t work out my last two days. What was the point in staying to transition the job if no one else was doing their part?
      Funny no one else who knew what an idiot that manager was blamed me for cutting my two week notice (very generous for a temp) two days short.

    8. SDSmith82

      My last day at former job was like this. My boss had nearly a month’s notice I was leaving, didn’t post the job notice until two weeks before- and hired someone the Wednesday of my last week (so i had three days to train her). I was expected to shove as much at that poor lady as I could while we were both there.

      Not only that- but my “exit interview” with our out-sourced HR lady was in an open hallway, and kept me at work 30 min past what would have been my normal time to go home- even if it wasn’t my final day- AND everyone was listening while it was happening so I couldn’t really be honest- and that office needed brutal honesty. The only real reason that I went in that day instead of taking sick time I was going to lose, was to collect my check- and try to help new lady- former boss didn’t have the check, decided she would just direct deposit it instead for the following Monday (again, despite having 3 1/2 weeks notice)- and messed up the amounts by close to $1,000, which meant I had to come back to the office for a live check that next week. TALK ABOUT AWKWARD.

      Yeah.

    9. Bluebell

      Oh honey, my job called me a month *after* I had started my new job to ask for a meeting about one of my projects.

  4. CurrentlyLooking

    Surgeries while looking for a new job

    I will be having surgery soon and there is a decent chance that I will get a call back from a prospective employer during that time. Will it hurt my chances to tell them I am unavailable a particular week due to surgery?
    I don’t want to give the appearance that I am unhealthy but if I explain the type of surgery, I also may seem old. Additionally, there is a good chance that my arm may be in a sling if I go in for an interview the week following the surgery.

    1. Stormfeather

      Could you just say you’re unavailable that week, and leave it at that?

      Or just maybe say something about “having arm surgery” (if that’s what it is since your arm is in a sling) and not go further? I mean that doesn’t really scream “unhealthy” in general and doesn’t go into the age thing. At least to me.

    2. Murphy

      I might just say “medical procedure” which keeps it a little more vague. But I don’t think it would hurt your chances regardless. If they’re reasonable, they won’t push you for details and won’t think anything of it.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they asked about the cast in person though, so I’d have a ready answer for that.

    3. Schnoodle

      I wouldn’t think twice of a candidate telling me they’d be out for a surgery and would not be available during a certain time frame or that they would be in a sling afterwards and may have to come to an interview that way.

      I wouldn’t divulge specifics of the surgery or anything, just keep it as light as possible.

    4. Karo

      I think you can get by with saying that you’re unavailable a given week without saying why. When I was scheduling my last job interview, their slots were all for a week I was going to be out of town. I just told them I was unavailable the week they were doing interviews and asked if they could accommodate an earlier or later day – that was it. If they press, you could simply say that you’re having a minor medical procedure done.

      As for arm in sling during an interview – again, I wouldn’t worry about it. They may ask if you’re okay, but no one’s going to be put off by it.

      Also, FWIW – the only surgery I can think of that reads as old is a hip replacement, and that’s just because of the trope – and I pretty quickly went to “but what if they’re just accident prone?”

    5. SpaceNovice

      If it does hurt your chances… do you really want to work for that employer? (Unless you’re in a situation where you absolutely must have a new job for financial reasons.) Just be vague about being out recovering for surgery and if that nixes your chances, you’ve dodged a bullet.

    6. LKW

      If you’re going to be under the knife and in recovery for a day (or two) as in under general anesthetic and doped up on painkillers then put a polite message on your voicemail that says that you’ll be dealing with a minor medical issue and you may be delayed in responding to calls but you’ll return calls as soon as possible. Arm in sling for an interview is no problem. Just be prepared for awkward handshakes if it’s your right hand.

    7. CurrentlyLooking

      Thanks for the advice!
      The surgery is for rotator cuff (shoulder) – I spent many months in PT for it where I seemed to be the youngest person their with that type of problem which is making sensitive for it making me seem older.

      1. Sled dog mama

        This seems to be a common thing where older people look to less invasive or less costly solutions first, and some younger people jump straight to the “just fix it so I can get on with my life” fix. Sometimes medical professionals contribute to this by offering surgery more readily to younger people. More often older people have multiple medical issues (called co-morbidities) that make surgery a bad choice for them so the population pursuing a non-surgical treatment to a problem that has a surgical treatment will almost always be skewed older.

      2. cactus lady

        I had a similar shoulder surgery right after starting a new job and was out for about a week. I’m in a pretty public-facing role and my job requires meeting a lot of people, I’m also much younger than the average person having this procedure, and was in a sling too. I was worried that being out and in a sling would reflect poorly on me somehow, or get me behind on stuff, or any number of other anxieties. But it didn’t! My employer is pretty great, people were very understanding. It was actually a good litmus test for how happy I would be in the position. If they’d been weird about me needing to take time off (I tried to negotiate a later start date because the surgery was already scheduled, they really wanted me to start at a certain time for some required training, but told me to take off as much time as I needed to recover), or made me feel weird about meeting some really important folks when I was in a sling, that would’ve been a red flag. So don’t even worry about it – I was up front about shoulder surgery because the sling was so obvious, but you could just say medical procedure. When people asked what happened, I just said “I was injured and ended up needing surgery.”

        It’s easy to overthink, but I don’t think you need to worry too much! A good employer will be understanding.

      3. Nerfmobile

        My dad had rotator cuff surgery when he was in his 30s, so I certainly don’t think of it as anything just for old people.

        1. Quinoa

          My brother had that surgery when he was 27. He’s really active, and damaged it doing sports. So it’s definitely not an age thing.

  5. Cancer Crush Anon

    Hi all. I haven’t updated in awhile.

    Some crazy things have happened. I’ve been rejected for about 4 jobs I was in the process of interviewing for. Killed my moral. My boyfriend just got a job in another city 2 hours away. It’s a phenomenal job and I’m very excited for him. Due to this, I’ve decided to start looking in his new city too. The opportunity isn’t here for me where I am now.

    I’m working with 3 recruiters from big name companies. All say that I should be hired quickly but I am not seeing anything from them. We signed a lease on a place on Monday, but I will not move down until I get a new job. Unfortunately, this is proving to take a lot longer than expected. I have been searching every single day since January 26th (when this happened).

    I’m debating looking into other careers or taking a lateral move in pay. I asked for feedback on the last interview I had and HR didn’t answer my question and just suggested other companies to try. I wish there was something like a career counselor for my job that could tell me what jobs I might be able to excel in. I’m very worried that I may have to take a pay cut.

    I have my performance review at my current company in the next few weeks, and I know my boss will say I am not doing well. It’s hard to do well at a company when the CEO tells you he has a crush on you. I’m afraid she will put me on a PIP.

    It may sound that I’m depressed about this, and honestly I am a little bit. But I am very excited for the new city. I’m excited to take this next step in my relationship and I am excited about the prospect of new jobs.

    1. Parenthetically

      That’s just so much — and a lot of potential excitement! Fingers crossed for you. :)

      1. alice

        Not OP (obviously) but I found this comment a bit condescending. I just wanted to point that out.

        Can you reach out to people in your network to get an idea of what other position exist with your skillset? Maybe join a meetup in the new city? At this point, I’d definitely look at a lateral move. It would be the best option, even for just a year while you keep looking. Best of luck.

        1. Cancer Crush Anon

          I didn’t really find it condescending, personally. Just fyi.

          I’ve reached out to my friends/network in my current city but have not in the new city yet. I’m hesitant to tell people I’m moving to new city because I’ve been getting some judgmental comments about moving to live with bf.

    2. Schnoodle

      Searching for less than 3 months isn’t really that much time really. I know some get it sooner than that, but stay patient.

      If you are not thrilled with your career path right now, I would try to dig deeper and think of what you might want to do instead, if schooling would be required, etc.

      1. Cancer Crush Anon

        I have a master’s degree so I’m not planning on going back further :(

        I’ve always gotten jobs within the first month of searching, and I’m extremely anxious about going to work every single day due to the sexual harassment I endured. It sure feels like an eternity for me.

        1. SpaceNovice

          Maybe there’s some regional variations in what employers are looking for? Regional interview styles? Resume styles? Etc. Or people could be applying for new jobs right now to make sure they move between the school year.

          I really wish you luck–although I haven’t commented before directly, I’ve been keeping an eye on your comments, and I hope you get out soon.

        2. Anion

          Have you given them your boyfriend’s new address, or are you using the old one? I’m sure your cover letter or the recruiter explains that you’re planning to move, but I wonder if people are seeing your address in another city and thinking they want someone local to start right away, or something?

          Best of luck to you!

          1. Cancer Crush Anon

            Hi! I’m doing all of the above.

            Before we signed the lease I said that I was in the process of relocating and would not need relocation assistance (as advised by a letter Alison answered years ago). My resume now says bf’s new address so that it is in the same city. Recruiters know and when I get phone interviews I’m letting them know that I’m in the process of relocating, will not need assistance, and getting down to that city is no problem.

    3. Lucky

      I’m so sorry that you’re still dealing with the fallout of your terrible crushing CEO. How to address that issue and your company’s mismanagement of it during your performance review would be a great question for Allison.

      As for looking in your new city, have you approached any temporary placement/direct hire agencies? It sounds like you need to get out of bad job and move to your new city, so even a short-term placement would allow you to move and get your foot in the door at a new company. Then, network a bunch and hopefully move into something more permanent.

      Also, there are career counselors who work with a broad range of career areas. A good one can help you to drill down to your core skills/attributes and tell that story in your cover letters/resume. I worked with one a few years ago and she really helped me to figure out how to market myself. It’s been invaluable both in my job search since then, and in my current position.

      1. Cancer Crush Anon

        I am working with 3 recruiters. I told them I’d be open to Contract to Hire, but not Contract…maybe I should tell them I’d be open to Contract too…I’m just afraid I won’t get a job after the 3/6/whatever months and that I won’t have benefits.

        Do I just search “career counselor CITY” ? I didn’t know if those things really existed past your college career center.

        1. Lucky

          I tried to find my old career counselor to see what certifications she had, but I can’t locate her. Sorry. But in my search, I did see that Yelp and LinkedIn both had listings like “10 best career counselors in CITY,” so maybe you can start there. I would interview the ones that seem like a good fit, asking about methods and success stories. Mine was more of a coach than a counselor – a bit woo-woo, but she got the job done.

          Also, see if your alma mater(s) have any reciprocity with the universities in your new city, so you could use their career office. If you’re in STEM or some other specialized fields, they may be able to get you job listings or onto job boards to find positions or meet people you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

          I will be waiting for your future “got a job, so long crush CEO” update.

        2. Ali G

          Yes! There are real career counselors out there and this is exactly what they are for. Recruiters will try to find you a job based on the skills you currently demonstrate and what you say you want to do. A counselor will look at your skill set and help you figure out how you can leverage them to do a broader range of things, or help you figure out your next move if you want to transition careers.
          I’m sorry, your situation sucks. I really hope it improves for you.

        3. Tuckerman

          You should still be able to access the career services department, where you got your degrees.

    4. Bea

      Looking 2hrs away is a great way to explain why you’re leaving, it saved me a lot of suffering awhile back. So I hope expanding your radius pushes you beyond this horrible place.

      1. Cancer Crush Anon

        Yes, exactly. And CEO has a lot of “guilt” about this, so me saying “oh well bf got a job that’s why I’m leaving” may spare me from his “guilt apologies” further since I’ve already had 2 of those.

    5. Hillary

      Good luck – fingers crossed for you.

      During my last job search I moved up to middle management, and I was kind of amazed at how much longer the process took. I had to keep reminding myself that the senses of urgency are very different between the company and the candidate.

      On another note, you might not know that the benefits picture can vary dramatically with specialist agencies. I spent a couple years contracting for one that mostly places engineers (i.e. if you need an experienced engineer to fix a problem on an off shore oil rig, they’ve got a guy) and their benefits were comparable to most of the small companies I’ve worked at. My boyfriend’s a contractor, his benefits are better than what my last company offered.

    6. sunshyne84

      I think you’re anxiety is coming across in interviews that’s why they couldn’t give you any feedback. Is it possible to just move and be without a job for a bit or take some time off? You sound like you really need a break and I think it would help to get your mind off that as much as possible so you can put your best self forward in those interviews. Best wishes!

      1. Cancer Crush Anon

        I get what you’re saying but I’m not sure if it’s that obvious. I do pretty well in interviews, and I sort of view it as a role, like if I were acting (which I do!). I’ve actually complimented the CEO in a few of the interviews -gag-. But it could be a factor. I’ve reached out to a career coach on LinkedIn like others were suggesting above and a lot of them seem to offer video mock interviews so maybe that might be something worth checking.

        Unfortunately I do have a mortgage and I’m pretty much living paycheck to paycheck, I don’t think I can take time off and still afford life.

        1. Slartibartfast

          Some states allow unemployment if you quit under conditions that would make most reasonable people quit. If your state offers that, it might be an option for you. Downside is that the burden of proof would be on you. Being fired for poor job performance won’t necessarily disqualify you either, if you do end up on pip. Might be worth looking into, just for peace of mind. The unknown is always scariest.

    7. designbot

      Making a lateral move in pay isn’t the worst thing, especially if there are other benefits that come with it—like getting away from a toxic boss, better work culture generally, or something more concrete like better benefits or title. I’ve made a couple of lateral moves in the past and while my pay isn’t going to wow anybody I’m now positioned exactly where I want to be and consider it worth it.

  6. AlexandrinaVictoria

    What recourse do you have if you think you are not being advanced in your career due to disability and use of intermittent FMLA, though no one is stupid enough to say that because they know it’s illegal? Looking for suggestions, please.

      1. lazuli

        Are there disability rights groups in your area? They may have suggestions for local agencies that can help, too.

    1. fposte

      Do you mean legal recourse or are you looking for other strategies? For the legal recourse, you can talk to a lawyer whenever you want and find out more about what the lawyer would need to know to pursue the question. For the strategies, your best possibility is probably to start looking elsewhere, but if facts align you can use them to advocate for yourself: “I reached the same goals that the other Teapot Techs reached and they were promoted but I wasn’t. Can you give me some insight into what I’d need to do beyond the standard goals, and if there’s a concern about my performance that we should talk about?”

    2. Former Retail Manager

      Have to agree with fposte….more than likely time to move on. If this pattern has been present for an extended period, like years, then I’d strongly consider moving on. Quite honestly, if the promotions that you are/were seeking involve you managing others, meeting certain deadlines, being present at key meetings, etc. and your disability prevents that, be it with or without ample notice, I can understand the concern of management. It can be hard to accomplish things when the person responsible or in charge is unable to come in at the last minute due to a health concern. Please don’t feel like I’m criticizing you, but you’ve gotta look at it from their perspective as well. If what I mentioned isn’t the case and your disability and FMLA time would have no impact on the position, then they’re certainly being unfair, but regardless, your current company seems to have made up their mind about you and unless your disability goes away, I can’t see that changing. Best to see what else is out there if you can.

  7. Employer retroactively decreasing pay

    So this is more of a legal question but I’m hoping someone might have some insight.

    I was given a promotion and raise effective March 1. It was a significant ($7000) raise, and today was supposed to be my first paycheck. I have a job offer in writing with the salary, title, and effective date.

    Last night my boss (the VP of HR who reports directly to the president) told me that he “wasn’t authorized” and that the raise isn’t happening. Even worse, he told me my check today would be with the raise, but my next check will have deductions to make up for the difference between the raise and my previous pay.

    So I know retroactively decreasing pay is illegal as hell. My question is, would this qualify as constructive discharge in terms of qualifying me for unemployment if I resigned?

    1. Trout 'Waver

      That’s so specific on your state (assuming you’re in the US) and even local judge. You’ll have to talk to an employment lawyer in your local jurisdiction.

        1. Employer retroactively decreasing pay

          Yes, I have an official offer letter with the salary and effective date.

          1. RVA Cat

            Do you have anything in writing rescinding the raise and spelling out the deductions? Maybe talk to payroll to see if they have documentation.

          2. Schnoodle

            Then you have some ground here…it may burn some bridges though. It’s up to you to balance the pros and cons, but I would be soooo PO’d to suddenly have a lower salary than agreed to.

    2. RVA Cat

      That is outrageous! Talk to a lawyer.
      In the meantime, is it possible for you to take PTO during the next pay period while you get this sorted?

      1. Employer retroactively decreasing pay

        I already took today off. Tbh I don’t know if I am ever going back. I was originally supposed to get this promotion/raise in January.

    3. Millennial Lawyer

      That is so shady! My legal advice is to not rely on legal advice on this sub and instead consult an attorney.

      For your question in particular I also recommend looking at the U.S. Department of Labor website and your state’s DOL website, it probably has good resources for this situation.

    4. Anon for now

      Eligibility for unemployment varies state to state. Look into your state’s requirements and be prepared to defend it to the unemployment agency if you get denied and have to appeal. I would avoid using legal terms of art like “constructive discharge” and stick to the facts of what happened if you represent yourself (and most people do in unemployment appeals). If you are denied and the company has a lawyer for an appeal, probably worth having one yourself so they don’t dominate the hearing.

      On the backwages… are you owed $7,000 right now, or would that have been spread out over a year (like it’s really about $600 right now?) I think that would influence my decision on how far to pursue it.

      Good luck. This totally blows.

    5. Bea

      Talk to BOLI, do not quit without solid legal advice.

      They screwed up by putting it in writing.

      I think they think they’re safe because they are acting like they didn’t give you a raise, they’re acting like it’s an overpayment. If you are overpaid in error, they can make you give it back, that’s not decreasing pay.

      1. I'm Not Phyllis

        I’m not a lawyer, but this is where I sit with it too. This isn’t an overpayment that they’re looking for repayment on, this was a raise that they agreed to (in writing, no less) that they’re now trying to claw back. Run, don’t walk, to a lawyer’s office.

    6. Yetanotherjennifer

      You’ve got an awfully long delay between doing the work and getting paid for it. If you wanted to buy some time and hopefully some money, you could take the ‘we’re on the same team’ approach that Alison often recommends when first pushing back on something possibly illegal and mention that you’ve already done the work for that paycheck and wouldn’t the claw back be considered a retroactive pay decrease and get the company in trouble. can’t hurt and it might allow you to at least keep the raise for a short while.

      1. RVA Cat

        Good thought.
        Another angle to take – if your boss wasn’t authorized to give you the raise, doesn’t that mean he also wasn’t authorized to promote you? If you’re being busted down to your previous salary you shouldn’t be expected to take on the new duties.

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess

        Thank you!

        It would shave at least ten minutes off my commute each way. They do reviews every 6 months (with salary increases, if applicable). And they pay for your insurance.

        I kind of can’t believe I’m in the running for it.

        1. ThatGirl

          IIRC, you’re in the Chicago suburbs, same as me — I got a shorter commute last year and let me tell you it does actually make a difference :) My fingers are crossed for you!

        2. Anion

          You’re in the running for it because they think you can do it and that you deserve to have a great job with great benefits. And they’re RIGHT! So go get ’em!

          Best of luck to you (you won’t need it, I’m sure)!

  8. One That Loved Not Wisely

    I applied for what is basically my dream job and now have an interview set up, hurray! However, I am struggling with explaining my work history. Relevant job timeline:

    A little over a year in position X, in beloved homestate.
    Moved to hell state for bf’s job.
    6 months in temp job.
    10 months in terrible job, with ridiculous overtime.
    8 months in nice job that I liked.

    Break up with bf. Move back to homestate.

    9 months in nice job that I liked.

    Get back together with bf. Move back to hell state. Look for jobs. Don’t get a job, break up again (and to quote Ms. Swift, we are never, ever, ever getting back together).

    Move back to homestate, get hired back on to position X that I had in the very beginning.

    I have a 10 month gap between jobs in homestate. Do I have to tell them I moved out of state and came back? Ex had a job where moving a lot was fairly typical, but my resume just looks like a job hopper. Would it be weird to say that I moved a lot for my ex’s job but we’re not together any more? I have a lot of feels about the moves and our relationship so I know I’ll have to practice on how to address my work history, but I have yet to find a good way to frame it.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I’m confused. Are you looking for a job now? Or are you asking if you need to tell position X that you moved out of state and came back?

      1. One That Loved Not Wisely

        I’m currently employed at position X- since I had already worked there, I didn’t have to interview at all. I’ve been there for 4 months now. I haven’t really been job searching because my resume looks so messy, but I did see a posting for my dream job, applied, and now have an interview. But I don’t know how to address the short stints of work, especially the gap between my last job and current job, during which I over out of state, but never got a job.

    2. Murphy

      I might say something like “My previous partner was in a career where moving around was common, but I am back in [homestate] and definitely looking to stay.”

      1. MuseumChick

        I like this. It’s explains why your resume looks messy without getting to much into your personal life. You could even say, “Due to my previous partner’s career we moved frequently. Now I’m looking to settle here.”

    3. Schnoodle

      I wouldn’t even say the word ex or boyfriend. Just say you unfortunately had to move around for personal or family reasons, but are now happy to make Homestate home again and looking for stability.

    4. WorkingOnIt

      As everyone else has said moving for partner, now planning to stay here longterm, but ultimately they can’t be that worried as they’re interviewing you and I’m assuming you provided your resume, they wouldn’t be interviewing you if it was a major concern.

      1. TootsNYC

        chiming in late, but I agree w/ WorkingOnIt:
        They can’t be too worried about it, since they called,.

        But they will want some explanation–when I had a lot of short stints, people did. Normally, I just ran down the list. But for you, I might say, “I relocated a couple of times because of my relationship, but I’m definitely settled here now.”
        Those 10 months without work are covered in that–if they zero in on it, simply say, “It wasn’t as easy to get work in that state; that’s part of why I want to stay settled here in this state.”

        You’ve got a plus in that you were hired back at a place you’d worked before, which is always a good sign (that classic question they ask references: “Would you hire them again?” is already answered).

        If anything, they might be more concerned about your leaving after 4 months. For that, I’d say, “Well, I want more stability, and I’d been planning to stay longer, but I also always keep an eye on what’s happening in the job market, and this particular opening was really appealing.”

  9. Murphy

    The higher ups in my office are conducting some kind secret interview. It’s marked “private” on all the calendars, and our office manager won’t tell me (which is totally fine). But my curiosity is piqued! I wanna know!

    1. hermit crab

      Oooh, I know the feeling. Though last time something like that happened in our office, it resulted in a wave of layoffs. :(

      1. Murphy

        I don’t think it’s that! I’m wondering if someone higher up is leaving and they just haven’t told us plebs yet.

      2. Hills to Die on

        It’s usually layoffs or a major project or company strategy shift / rebranding. Or it could be a merger, major purchase of another company / by another company. It could be a change to the executive positions as well. The rumor mill should start up soon enough!

        1. Murphy

          We are in some kind of restructuring I know. We’re the Office of QWERTY and RTY is becoming its own thing. I’m firmly in Q, so I didn’t expect much change for our leadership, but who knows?

    2. Bea

      Sounds like they’re firing someone important. Voldemort started having these secret meetings when he was deleting jobs and when he secretly replaced a guy who nobody knew was getting replaced.

      1. Murphy

        Well I’m not important and my boss was one of the people sitting in, so I’m going to try not to worry about it. (I’m more curious than worried anyway.)

    3. designbot

      It may just be that they’re hiring someone who knows other people at the company but doesn’t want their job search to be public. My company does this so often that we have a conference room that’s used primarily for this purpose and clients with NDAs.

  10. Detective Amy Santiago

    I got the job I wanted!!! I start May 7th. It’s about a 20% pay increase and 95% less dealing with people so I’m pretty excited.

    Had my pre-employment physical this morning and I think the only other outstanding item is my high school transcript (which IDEK why they need but they do).

    Thanks to Alison for all the great advice here and thanks to all the commenters who have been supportive during my search!

      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        Well, that’s clearly a sign! I will transfer the good mojo to you for your interview :)

      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        Was there ever an update to that crazy Reddit thread you shared last week?

  11. Rob in Tech

    Hi folks. I have a question about employment verification. I also have a secondary question about references.

    I left my last job in less than ideal circumstances. I willingly resigned, but I was not on good terms with my manager.

    The employer in question is a megacorp that handles payroll internally. I never received my W-2s, and have been struggling with them to get it since February: the company insists that they sent the W-2 and is dragging their feet in sending a replacement. I called the IRS, but still no W-2.

    The W-2 and my pay stubs should be available on their HR portal, but I don’t have HR portal access. My account is locked, and the tier IT support procedure is to say “we’re escalating this up the chain, expect an email within 24 to 48 hours” and immediately hang up.

    This isn’t a conspiracy against me, just laziness from a few people who are all conveniently placed. Regardless of that, the fact remains that I have no pay stubs or W-2s for this job. I’m worried about getting a reputation as a troublemaker, and that coloring what their HR department has to say about me.

    I’m not sure what to do about this and I am growing worried. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Q without U

      This info is geared toward people who need their W-2 for tax purposes, but should work for you:

      Contact the IRS at 800-829-1040 if you have not yet received your W-2. Be prepared to provide your name, address, Social Security number and phone number. You should also have the following information when you call:
      • Your employer’s name, address and phone number;
      • Your employment dates; and
      • An estimate of your wages and federal income tax withheld in 2012, based upon your final pay stub or leave-and-earnings statement, if available.

      As I understand it, the IRS will call the employer and advise them to send you your W-2.

      1. SNARK

        “The employer in question is a megacorp that handles payroll internally. I never received my W-2s, and have been struggling with them to get it since February: the company insists that they sent the W-2 and is dragging their feet in sending a replacement. I called the IRS, but still no W-2.”

        1. zora

          I would still call the IRS a second time. They likely have a procedure for escalating when there is a second call and still no W-2. Or at least someone there should be able to give you some advice on what to do.

          Second step, I would maybe call some employment lawyers and ask for a free consultation to see if this is something they can help with?

        1. Rob in Tech

          Assuming that’s from an IRS or accounting software page from 2012.

          I was in college in 2012. :)

    2. Wheezyweasel

      You’re probably the 100th person to have this issue at a MegaCorp. I bet there have been people calling about this issue since W-2s were first issue in the portal – maybe before Y2K. If they can’t make the effort to change a broken policy, I doubt anyone is going to seek out HR and say ‘wow, Rob is a real jerk for wanting his W-2’s. HR, if they have a shred of professionally, won’t think that your legal requirement to file income taxes is an unprofessional request either.

      1. Happy Lurker

        If they can’t get you your W2, chances are the reference inquiry will be returned with “worked here from Date X to Date y”.
        I wouldn’t worry about your reputation with past HR departments that are large and inept.

    3. Garland not Andrews

      First – file for an extension on your taxes. You can estimate taxes based on your last December 2017 pay stub.
      Request a copy of your W-2’s from the IRS. You won’t get it until like August, but you will get it.
      I had to do this a few years ago with the company I had worked for went bankrupt and the wrapping up folks just didn’t send out the W-2’s.

      Good luck!

      1. Bea

        She doesnt have pay stubs :(

        Reminder to everyone to keep these things, print them, never rely on your employer. I’ve seen mega corps with garbage HR too many times. I hate electronic pay stubs with all my heart.

        1. Evil HR Person

          +1 Bea!

          Except, I HATE paper more than anything, so I keep an electronic copy of my pay stubs where I can find them no matter if the company goes belly-up tomorrow.

          1. Bea

            True true, I forget others can save pdfs of stubs! I work with a lot of older folks, our general policy is to have everyone log into their portals for them. I’ve printed off many for people who don’t do computers well, oop.

        2. TootsNYC

          This is a reminder I need–I was just realizing, reading this dilemma, that I wouldn’t have pays stubs, because they’re not pushed out to us–not even as emails. I have to go get them and print them out.

    4. Jadelyn

      It depends on the type of employment verification. At my org, HR verifies dates of employment, rates of pay, and rehire eligibility in general terms – not, “would you actually want to rehire this person?” but “is there anything barring this person from being rehired?” for things like theft, unethical conduct, harassment, etc. – but it’s not like we’re providing in-depth references on quality of work or character.

      If you were planning on using that company’s HR or your old manager as a *reference*, that would be different, but for simple VOEs I doubt it will affect anything. We’ve had a few “problem children” former EEs that we’ve gotten employment verifications for, including one who had threatened to sue us because he was unhappy at being laid off (like, nobody enjoys that, but it’s your whole branch, not just you, we’re closing that location completely and it’s nothing personal) – and we just fill in the facts regardless. This person was, in fact, considered eligible for rehire, since his termination was a layoff, not for cause.

      1. Rob in Tech

        That’s nuts. I haven’t done anything like that… I know how it sounds, but it was more a severe personality conflict with a new manager that came in after my old one quit, and I will own up to not doing enough to make it work.

        1. Jadelyn

          And that’s fair – but it really shouldn’t affect basic verifications of employment/income. That’s more of an issue if you’re trying to use them as a reference, and in a big company the HR staff doesn’t even know the line staff directly anyway, so they really couldn’t provide much info.

          1. Rob in Tech

            So my worry is that HR just won’t pick up the phone, because they’ve done that to me in the past.

            That’s happened before with other places I worked. I just gave them first and last month’s pay stubs plus my W-2. Here I don’t have either.

            What I do have is my signed offer letter and bank statements.

    5. Bea

      This is a mega corp, I encourage another talk with the IRS. They shouldn’t be giving you a reference anyways, the HR staffers do not know you personally. They should only verify employment and it’ll be dry and scripted, you’re not standing out in anyone’s mind. I promise this is standard practice at that size.

      Only people who worked directly with you should be giving true references.

    6. Evil HR Person

      Not sure what you can do about your W-2’s, other than to advise you to always keep your pay stubs handy no matter where they’re usually kept. Going forward, that’s something you should do. Like forevermore. You can submit your taxes by using your last pay stub of the year, and amend thereafter if you eventually get the W-2. Not giving you the W-2 is on MegaCorp – but not keeping your pay stubs handy is on you, I’m afraid.

      As for HR, unless you did something SO egregious that they HAVE to say something (like you assaulted somebody, or broke the law in some other way) an HR department in MegaCorp is not going to take the time to give the next employer a detailed reference. They don’t have the time, for one. For two, they know it’s always safer to verify your employment than to give a reference – that’s standard HR procedure to protect the company and to keep things the same for all former employees so that the company can’t be accused of favoritism, or worse: discrimination.

      1. Rob in Tech

        I’ll own up to not being diligent enough with the pay stubs. I’m going to keep pestering the IT folks about unlocking my HR portal account, because they’ll be useful.

        Didn’t do anything egregious at the company. My boss quit and his replacement openly disliked me, so I started looking and handed in my resignation after I signed an offer. I see what I could’ve done differently and I’m applying those lessons going forward, but it was pretty basic stuff. I worry about the HR side because it’s a struggle to get any sort of response from the company’s HR. For example, it took them 10 days to respond to my request for ADA accommodations (schedule modifications so I could go for physical therapy).

        I do have my signed contract and this company is probably the most unpopular organization in my state, so we’ll see.

        1. Bea

          You did nothing wrong!! When others ask why you left it’s simple “I left for another opportunity”.

          You gave notice after getting a new job. Let this place fade from your memory as soon as you get you documentation.

          And drag these fools through the mud, they don’t get to brush you off. Their HR is garbage if they can’t even get you a w2…it’s APRIL.

    7. Me--Blargh

      Most companies just contact HR and they say “Yes, Bob worked here from this date to that date.” If it’s a large company, that may be all they’re allowed to say.

      About the W-2s and pay stubs, I don’t know. Maybe a polite but firm letter from a lawyer could spur them to get this done.

    8. Yetanotherjennifer

      I agree with the others that say that you’re probably not MegaCorp’s only victim and that you’re likely not to stand out much by pressing the issue, but you’re also not likely to get them to budge on your own. If you’re in contact with other employees or better yet, former employees, see if any others are having trouble. You may be more effective as a group. I know you didn’t ask any tax questions, but it’s the most productive advice I can offer. If you had any paystubs from 2017, you could multiply that by the number of payperiods to cover the year, file for an extension and pay the taxes you would owe based on that data. Since you don’t, I’d call the IRS back, report MegaCorp’s continued obstinance, and ask what they recommend you do about your taxes. The key is to file the extension on time and pay something if you normally owe, even if it’s based on what you owed for 2016. You get points for making a good faith effort. And eventually, the IRS should be able to send you your w-2 data and you can completely bypass MegaCorp. Also, don’t forget your state taxes. I don’t know where states get their income data, but it’s worth a phone call to see if they maybe have your info. Document everything everyone tells you. I hope you get something soon!

    9. Former Retail Manager

      IRS employee here with advice about the W-2/tax side of things, not the reputation bit, although I personally think it sounds like megacorp is so large that the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing.

      The deadline for all employers to submit all W-2’s to SSA was January 31, 2018. SSA processes them and then they are transmitted to the IRS where the amounts submitted to SSA are reconciled against the amounts filed by the employer with the IRS. However, this process can take anywhere from a few months to up to 18 months, according to my internal contact who is familiar with that process. From what my contact can surmise, the process has slowed down in recent years due to additional steps/safeguards that have been put in place due to identity theft/hacking.

      If I were you, I’d do the following:
      — File an extension immediately (prior to 4-17-18). This will give you 6 additional months.
      — Remember that an extension to file is not an extension to pay. If your withholding won’t fully cover your tax due. then you’ll need to make a payment with your extension. Otherwise, you’ll be hit with a failure to pay penalty when you eventually file. It wouldn’t likely be a large penalty, but why pay any penalties if you don’t have to.
      — Call the IRS customer service number again (1-800-829-1040) and ask them again to see if a W-2 is on file for 2017 (Note: You can also use the “Get Transcript” function available online to request various types of information including wage and income information (i.e. W-2’s & 1099’s))
      — I’d personally give them until about May or June at the latest (the employer that is) and if you still can’t get a copy from them via your various actions, I’d mention possible legal action because, at that point, their refusal to provide you with your documents are inhibiting your ability to comply with federal tax law.

      And as others have said….please print or otherwise save your pay stubs. P.S. I’m guilty of not doing it too.

      1. Rob in Tech

        In fairness, I was going through a depression at the time, and I’m typically very meticulous about keeping records. Also in fairness, getting off my butt and doing stuff like this would’ve helped me get over it quicker.

        I’m going to look at the transcript function now. I don’t think they would’ve messed that up. Thank you!

  12. E

    Just went on my first work trip (3 days, same country, no time differences) and I’m exhausted. I was excited about it when it was first booked, but now I’m quite happy to stay put in the office and be able to go home every night to my own bed. Respect to those who can do it on a regular basis!

    1. Kathleen_A

      I find work trips exhausting, too. I usually only do them 2-4 times/year, and that’s plenty. I mean, I usually have a reasonable amount of fun (e.g., nice meals, hanging out with colleagues, etc.), but still…yeah, that nice familiar office and nice familiar home are hard to beat!

    2. LKW

      When you do it all the time it becomes pretty normal. Unless there are long delays, then it becomes exhausting again.

    3. Green Goose

      I have to travel about 12-15 days out of the year and I remember on my first one or two trips I tried to jam pack every minute of my trip for meetings and work and it left me pretty stressed and tired. Now I try to go for a longer period of time so the trip isn’t so go-go-go and now I like travelling for work much more and I feel like I get a lot more out of my trips.

      If you have control over this, maybe try to give yourself blocked off “down time” during your trip.

    4. Eye of Sauron

      I used to get really jealous about all those people who were getting upgrades at the airport… now I just think “You poor bast#rd” and feel sorry for them.

      It does get a little easier and more routine as you get used to it and it becomes regular, but that ramp up can hurt.

      I’m lucky that most of my travel can be driven ~4 hours away by car and I’ve become known at the hotel I stay at. Why yes the nice man at the hotel will have coffee waiting for me in the morning in hand when he knows I’m there, and I don’t actually have to say out loud my breakfast order.

      During the summers I’m usually on the road ~50% of the time. My summer season starts next week I’m afraid.

  13. miyeritari

    Does anyone have any recommendations for a temp agency (for me to hire a temp)? SFBay preferred, but national is fine too.

    1. Trout 'Waver

      I’ve always gotten good customer service from Aerotek, but they do charge more for it.

      1. Oxford Coma

        NO. I got royally, royally screwed by these con artists! My company has since blacklisted them. We now use Synerfac.

      2. Detective Right-All-The-Time

        Same, my guy at Aerotek is fantastic. He’s in the Sacramento area though, so I can’t speak to the SF office. They charge more, but we get exponentially more candidates and better service from them. We’ve had them even come on-site to check in on their people and make sure they’re performing to expectations.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      Depends on what kind of temp you’re looking for! Some agencies specialize in certain industries.

      1. zora

        This. It depends on your industry. Best bet is to ask around in your industry.

        But if you are looking for admins, I’ve had great experiences working for Scion Staffing as an employee.

          1. zora

            But industry is also relevant. Like, what kind of customer service, is this a tech company? Accounting/finance? Retail? do some google searches for like “staffing agency finance” and see what comes up. Staffing agencies in the bay area tend to specialize.

    3. Jadelyn

      I’m in the Bay Area and we usually use OfficeTeam/Accountemps/Robert Half for our temp needs.

      1. Bea

        Seconding this. I worked for them fifteen years ago and vet pretty good folks.

        Do not use anyone who isn’t specializing in what you’re looking for though. We got laborers and CSRs from the same place, it was epic failure in both departments. You want someone who’s not screening anyone for skills.

    4. NorthCalifHR

      We use Aerotek for technical, Robert Half for accounting/finance, and OfficeTeam (part of the RHalf group) for administrative/marketing/clerical. And we’re also SFBA – Contra Costa County. Good luck!

    5. KatieK

      If you’re looking for something in the work areas they cover, I’ve had great experience (hiring and working freelance) with Creative Circle

  14. Nervous Accountant

    Did we mess up?

    If your boss emails you “you did a bad job”, do you just ignore it or respond back? I would always think you should respond back and it’s inconceivable that something like that is ignored but idk now.

    A client complained that a return was prepared incorrectly.. the reviewer (my mgr) spoke to him and client admitted he provided incorrect information and he understood how we prepared it..

    Boss emails mgr saying that the return was not reviewed at all–basically implying that he didn’t do his job/did a bad job.

    He sends her back an email saying that he did review it and how his conversation w the client went.

    She writes back “OMG why are you wasting precious time arguing with me about how I’m wrong????!?!!!”

    [*I* read that and my heart dropped, I can’t even imagine what he felt reading that.]

    I mean…she has a point–it’s busy and we need to work on returns, that’s priority! I felt/feel bad b/c I should have seen that as well. But I gave him the advice based on knowing that she does have a history of getting upset if you don’t respond back to her ASAP. And she’s given him a hard time in the past for emails that were “too abrupt” for her.

    Another thing that really upset me is that for years, she’s always trashed our team and praised her own team and gives my mgr a hard time about our team, yet this time she says “we’re all on the same team!”

    Other ppl read the email and thought what he said was fine and her response was way too harsh. It just feels like we can’t win w/ her.

    (also if anyone wonders why I’m so involved in this, it’s b/c I work closely w my manager on our team so….I care).

    1. Curious Cat

      If my boss ever emailed me that I did poorly, I’d want to set up a time to touch base face-to-face and really discuss what went wrong and what can happen better in the future. But it sounds like Boss in your situation is a biiiit toxic and all over the place, so I’d proceed with caution. I say still respond (looks worse to ignore it), perhaps with a general apology & ask if she wants to discuss it more in person?

    2. Bea

      I think that this time of year everyone is on edge completing returns so tempers will always flare up.

      I would stay out of it and maybe if there’s still bad feelings flying after crunch time is over, there can be face to face talks to squash the beef.

    3. Master Bean Counter

      I would have emailed back that I wanted to discuss this, but could it wait until after next Tuesday? The stress level is too high in any office that does taxes to have any off-topic rational discussion. And by off-topic I mean not relating to a return that is currently being prepared.

    4. hbc

      If she thinks it’s a waste of time to get into how wrong he is, she shouldn’t have written the email in the first place.

      Not much you can do about the fact that she’s being hypocritical, but maybe during a busy period it can be more like “The client’s not giving you the full picture, maybe we can do a post-mortem after we’re done with crunch time, or I can write you a summary.”

      But if she gets mad at him for being abrupt, and she gets mad at him for going on too long, and she’d probably get mad at not having the concern addressed, there’s no way to win.

      1. Hills to Die on

        Yeah, she’s just a jerk. If your manager were to reply back and say something succinct, clarifying and professional, she probably just wouldn’t answer anyway. Some people are just assholes.

    5. zora

      No, you’re in a no-win situation with a toxic boss.

      If our big boss did the same thing and the account lead wrote the email your manager did, she would say, “Oh, great. Thank you for handling. Let’s schedule time to talk later to see if there’s anything I should do to follow up with the client, or anything we could have done differently.”

      His response is not “Arguing” it’s giving her information she didn’t have, and a good boss is glad to have that information.

    6. Llama Grooming Coordinator

      Like…I’d say this was terrible, but also I looked at the calendar and it’s April 13th. She really shouldn’t have sent that, but I understand because she probably feels like her hair is on fire right now.

      But also she’s not pleasant to deal with on a regular basis, from what it sounds like.

      Either way…like from your account she’s totally wrong. But also, if you can’t win with her, why try to? Do the best job you can (which it sounds like your manager did), and ignore the woman sending mildly unhinged emails with multiple punctuation marks at work like she’s posting on a message board circa 2003. She’s either mad about something that doesn’t involve your team (And it’s not your problem) or she has personal issues with your team (And it’s NOT YOUR PROBLEM).

    7. Nervous Accountant

      You all make excellent points.

      However, whenever a client complains, no matter what it’s about, we have to address it ASAP. We get tickets that come in and if it’s not addressed in 15-20 minutes we all get an email from boss that someone needs to get on it ASAP. So that’s why w couldn’t really say “let’s talk about this on Wednesday”. We had to look in to what happened and why it happened.

      I am honestly not sure if this is the norm in other offices as this is the first one I’ve worked in (4 years now).

      1. LKW

        If I understand the situation – the client complained. The Boss sends Mgr an email. Mgr calls client. Boss emails again? Mgr emails boss. Boss flips? Did I get that right? If so, then the Mgr should have emailed boss and client together right after talking to client outlining that they have discussed the matter and mgr explained the situation and the client understands the issue. That would have put a stop to all of this.

        1. Nervous Accountant

          Client complained. Mgr called client, client was happy. Boss emails again and mgr responds and boss flips out. Mgr sent a short email apologizing and that was that.

          1. LKW

            Next time – Mgr should get ahead of boss and email that it’s been resolved and copy client so that the client has an opportunity to chime in and confirm. Or mgr can email client directly and say “base on our discussion… please let me know if your understanding is different…” and copy boss. That way, boss knows it’s resolved to the clients satisfaction.

          2. Boredatwork

            Boss is insane – all your manger did was inform the “boss” about a resolved client issue. Also – garbage in, garbage out. I feel like that exact phrase explains the ENTIRE situation.

            You can’t make clients provide reliable, usable data. Just ask client if you can extend the return, have them make a payment (if necessary) and call it a day!

    8. MLB

      Tone is misinterpreted through email and something like this should have been done face to face. I realize it’s a busy time but I would have responded saying that I wanted to set up a meeting to discuss and left it at that.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        They do interact face to face/telephone 99% of the time so I feel that should have softened the message but she was WFH that day. If we had said let’s discuss after, I don’t think she would have been happy about that either.

    9. CityMouse

      I once had a boss who would interpret any kind of thing like that as an attack. It was a nightmare. I learned to tiptoe around her. The best way to deal with that kind of personality is to try to place the blame away from her, even if it it is her fault
      “Hey just letting you know the client gave you the wrong info here – they did X. We better watch this client carefully in the future, they tend to provide bad info.”

    10. valentine

      Your boss shouldn’t be involving the team in a postmortem of his interactions with his boss. Given the client-is-always-right abuse and the manager’s behavior, have you looked for a better workplace?

    11. anonagain

      Maybe I’m confused about what your respective jobs actually are, but I wouldn’t have thought that it was your role as an accountant to help your manager read social cues re emailing his own boss. I also wouldn’t have thought it was you or your coworkers’ job to read mean emails your manager gets from his boss and reassure him that he was okay. I am quite certain it’s not your job to keep a mental catalog of his interactions and the wrongs committed against him by his boss.

      I don’t know if your manager wasted his boss’s time, but it sure sounds like he wastes your time and energy.

  15. Bar Exam Question

    A non-legal question for the AAM lawyers! If this veers too much into the personal category, let me know and I’ll repost tomorrow. I’m taking the bar exam this summer, and have an opportunity to see a friend that I haven’t seen in 6 years. The problem is, I would have to travel to her in late June/early July. I’d lose a little bit of one weekend (I’m hoping to swing my travel so I get in really late Friday and have Saturday and Sunday to study during the day and see my friend in the evening) and then half of the Monday to fly back. Is this an incredibly dumb idea? I’m getting really mixed messages – attorneys I know are like “Oh, you’ll be fine! You’ll have earned a break!” but they are all at least a decade removed from the bar and I’m worried they’re rose-colored-glasses-ing it. And then the bar exam advisor at my school would be firmly against it, but she’s also so concerned with pass rates and is basically trying to scare us into studying (she praised a student who skipped her grandfather’s funeral to study, so I can guess what her opinion on a social trip would be).

    I’d love to hear from people who’ve taken the bar in the past few years for their perspective – did you travel? Was it doable or did it create more stress?

    1. Temperance

      Don’t do it. I took the bar exam 5 years ago, and that specific time period is when bar prep goes to shit. I remember having an actual crying fit because someone invited me to Quizzo the second week of July, thinking that my friend wanted me to fail the bar. (Seriously.)

      Can she come to see you? Travel is really rough normally, but travel during bar prep is hell. Seriously.

      1. CityMouse

        I am trying to remember what we were studying around that time and I think it might have been state business organizations. *Shudder*. Give me a funny priest teaching us wills any day over that.

    2. CrackersandCoffee

      As long as you are studying consistently for the rest of the summer, I totally think it’s ok to have one weekend enjoying yourself. It might even help to rejuvenate you—it’s a brutal grind and you need moments of fun and happiness. I wouldn’t have done it personally, but I honestly kind of feel like I overstudied for the bar. And I just found out yesterday that I passed it!

      1. CrackersandCoffee

        Oh, but maybe I should add that the pass rate for my bar exam was only 35%. So now I’m feeling conflicted about my advice. Honestly to be on the safe side you shouldn’t do it—I know people who failed by a single point, and they were typically people who were more apt to treat themselves to, say, the occasional concert rather than hunkering down and studying.

    3. Trout 'Waver

      My partner is an attorney, and we were dating when they were studying for the bar. Let me give it from my perspective:

      People studying for the bar are not good company. They are 100% preoccupied with bar prep. You should see your friend when you have the mental capabilities to relax and catch up with your friend. You will not have these capabilities while studying for the bar.

      1. AGK

        I absolutely agree with this. My husband took the bar about two months ago (we’re waiting on results) and it was not pleasant to be around him. We tried to do an evening with friends a month before he took the exam and it was not a good idea. Your focus and attention will be elsewhere and you’ll be under enormous stress. Not a receipt for a good trip. However, we planned a small trip right after he took the exam and that was an awesome way to celebrate.

      2. Former Border's Refugee

        Yes, this. Could you do it? Yes. Would it have minimal impact on your study time? …maaaaybe. Would you have fun? No. Would you be good company? Definitely not.

      3. BetsCounts

        Seconding Trout ‘Waver. I am a CPA and I know the bar exam is crazier than the CPA exam, but there is no way I would have wanted to lose an entire weekend from studying, even if it was someone I hadn’t seen in a long time.

    4. Millennial Lawyer

      You totally could and it probably would not affect your score. You will not fail because of one weekend. But *YOU* are not going to want to. Trust me on that. You will regret agreeing to it because you will be really anxious and you will likely not enjoy your time, always thinking about how you need to be studying. I mean, I don’t know you, maybe you’re a very easy going person. But the bar exam changes everything.

      Also, someone skipping a funeral is absolutely bananas and I can’t believe someone would be so deranged as to convince someone that is the right thing to do.

    5. Teapot librarian

      I worked full time while studying for the bar. (I took the February exam after graduating in May; I didn’t know where I was going to be living.) Would I recommend it? No. Was it doable? Yes. So I think a few-day travel break is likely fine.

      1. Ugh

        I did the same, I only took off the 2 weeks before the bar. One weekend shouldn’t make or break you.

    6. Yolo

      A friend of mine came to stay with me during her bar exam and we got to have a nice relaxing dinner the night before, she was really close to the test location, and she passed on the first try so I’m in favor of a little friend-time in the temporal vicinity of bar-taking :)

      1. Former Border's Refugee

        I do recommend having a hard stop to when you are done studying- mine was sundown two days before the exam, so the full day before I was relaxing and resting up.

        (Also, if you can, schedule a massage for the evening of the first day of the exam. It made ALL the difference.)

        1. CityMouse

          I went to a pub quiz the first night. Answering movie questions helped refresh my brain.

          For me, at least, day 2 was much much easier as I knew I had the MPRE in the bag. Essay day is so tough because you have no clue what they will throw at you (“A multi pronged law firm financial ethics question? Thanks bar examiners! Can I please figure out the easements on blackacre instead?”)

          1. Glomarization, Esq.

            I similarly “took off” the first night of my bar exam. I figured I wasn’t going to be able to meaningfully study that night anyway, so I went out for a few hours with friends at a weekly gathering. Treated it like a school night, though, and went home on the early side.

      2. Temperance

        The night before is kind of different, though, because you really need to relax and get your head right.

    7. Cookie

      One weekend isn’t a huge deal. I took a Fourth of July long weekend to spend some time with my family, which was good because it was the last summer my sister and I lived in the same city as our mom – who knows when we’ll celebrate the 4th as a family again. Yes, bar study is stressful and there’s a lot of information to learn, but most of it should be a review and you do need to give yourself a break.

    8. Fiennes

      I had a friend who took a brief weekend trip before the bar exam— which wasn’t so brief when he got caught in a travel nightmare that left him no time to study and barely allowed him to return in time for the test.

      And yet, for him, this turned out to be great! He’s a serious worry wart, forever psyching himself out, brooding with anxiety, etc. Having four days of mayhem when he couldn’t worry about the bar beyond the logistics of just getting there—for him, it wound up providing a kind of mental break. As he put it, at a certain point he HAD to relax and go with events. He got to the test in good mental shape and passed.

      This anecdote doesn’t bear directly on your situation, but i think it illustrates that there’s no one right answer on “what to do before the bar”—you have to know your own personality, habits and needs. Will you be someone who needs to study to the end to stay calm? Will you be badly fried and in need of a break? Where do you see yourself being at that point, and will the trip soothe or rattle you at that point?

    9. CityMouse

      I missed one session and it was okay, I caught up. If you are doing Barbri, you can watch the lessons remotely, even if you are doing the in person class (if you can, I would highly, highly recommend it). It isn’t the worst, but it will be stressful and you will end up pulling some extra time. You should only miss two lectures, but could miss some outlining time. That’s about 40 hours to make up (Bar study really is about 10 hours a day, if not 12)

      The thing about the bar is that it really is a 24 hour a day thing. All that review and quizzes? Do every bit. Then outline what you have my stay studied. Combo your lecture notes and book notes into and outline. Seriously. You put the work in, you will almost certainly be fine, though, my friends who failed didn’t commit 100%.

    10. Glomarization, Esq.

      If you go on this trip, you will have a miserable time because you will be worrying so much about the bar prep that you’re missing.

      Block off your post-graduation weeks of bar prep as a “gone fishin'” period and just follow the schedule your program gives you. Plan your trip(s) for after the bar.

    11. law talk

      Just to air out the other side a little bit, I took the July 2014 bar. Before the exam, I traveled cross-country for one weekend for a wedding and another weekend for my college reunion. I also got married across the country from where I lived two weeks after the bar (the planning for that occupied a significant amount of my time that summer). Honestly, it was fine–I enjoyed both trips, didn’t find that they made my time at home overly stressful or crammed, and am glad I did them.

      That said, this is a “know yourself” kind of question. If I were you, I’d be thinking about how you studied in law school (I was a diligent 9-5 kind of student, not an all-waking-hours kind), what your school’s bar passage rate is (mine was quite high; if your school’s advisor is very present, I’m concerned that your school’s may not be), what kind of test-taker you are (what was the LSAT like for you? how about law school exams?) and whether you’re a “must be totally consumed with this important thing or I’ll be so stressed I won’t enjoy whatever else I’m doing” person or a “I need space from the stressful things so they’re not my whole life” person (I was the latter–I intentionally lived off-campus with non-law-students during law school and declined to do a hotel for the bar in favor of sleeping in my own bed and not having to listen to other people rehash exam questions every night). Then, figure out whether those aspects of your personality and lifestyle are compatible with this trip.

    12. anna green

      This thread is fascinating! I always heard it was a big deal to take the bar exam, but I never realized it was a full time job to study.

    13. Where's the Le-Toose?

      The best advice is that you should only do what you feel comfortable with. If you know you will be preoccupied with thoughts about the bar, then don’t do it. If you can take a few days off and not freak out, then go ahead.

      I passed the bar back in ’95 and I still remember that time vividly. I treated my bar review like a full-time job with a little overtime. After finishing my 3L classes and until my bar review classes started, I would study from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday with an hour lunch. On Saturdays, it was 9 am to 2 pm, and Sundays was just a couple of hours, usually 9 am to noon. , it was 9 am to 2 pm. When the bar review classes stared, it was pretty much the same schedule but with bar review taking up the morning. And then I stopped studying altogether the Sunday before the bar exam.

      For me, I wouldn’t have taken that kind of time off because I wanted to pass the first time (and I did). But that’s just me. You know you better than anyone else here.

  16. Youth

    My job is great, but I’ve been casually looking for a while. The stress of writing for finicky corporate clients is strong.

    I was invited to apply for a job with a guy who’s kind of a big shot around here, but he wouldn’t tell me what he needed a writer for until after he saw my resume! So I may be in the running for a job, but I don’t know what it is, much less how it pays or anything like that! Which is kind of frustrating, since I have great pay and flexible hours and would only be interested in this other job if it was really good.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Go slowly here. If he won’t answer your questions at some point, that is a red flag.

    2. Canadian Teapots

      Also TBQH there are job scams around Craigslist writing gigs that are a way to get writing samples out of people without paying for them.

      Not sauing your big shot is doing this but he does seem a bit unfamiliar with basic norms of keeping interviewees in the loop about what the job is that they’re applying for.

  17. ZSD

    New Jersey will be the tenth state to guarantee paid sick and safe days for all workers! They also have the strongest state law in the nation.
    One-fifth of the US states (plus DC) now have such laws. Great progress!

    1. zora

      YAYYYY! that is awesome news. Mandatory paid sick days in SF literally saved me a couple of years ago, it was such a relief to not have to worry about being sick AND having zero money to pay my bills. I hope everyone gets them soon!

      1. Bea

        They are domestic violence leave days, if you need to take time off to seek safe harbor somewhere, you’re covered.

  18. Alternative Person

    Question: Is it weird that people leave stuff laying around on desks/open on laptops and never complain that said stuff is gone when they come back?

    At work people have no problem treating any and all shared space like personal dumping grounds but never seem to get mad when something they need disappears. Like they never ask where their open (sometimes unsaved) word documents are when they come back to shared computers or if they have to go rooting through the recycle bin they just do it. It seems weird to me that they don’t clean up workspaces in the first place but the fact they never get angry about it is even weirder to me.

    1. fposte

      I’d rather that than the people who don’t safeguard their own stuff but are annoyed that other people didn’t safeguard it for them.

      1. Alternative Person

        True, I just find it strange people can be so caviler with their stuff and documents they’ve potentially put hours into and not for all intents and purposes care about what happened to them.

    2. Bea W

      If they’re just leaving their stuff out, they may be aware it’ll probably disappear, and that’s why they don’t get mad about it. They may also be saving a copy to another place and just don’t care about cleaning up their stuff or if it gets deleted. Sometimes Word will ask if you want to save changes to a file even if you haven’t made any real changes.

      What drives me nuts are people who are don’t clean up after themselves or save their files like that, and then complain when the inevitable happens.

    3. Jady

      I think it would be weird to be angry.

      It’s a shared computer, openly available to anyone (seemingly). Would someone be angry if the same thing happened on a computer in the library or at school? If anything important is on there, it’s up to the owner to keep copies, backups, put it on a USB, dropbox, network, etc.

  19. Nervous Accountant

    More emotional and personal than work related but.

    Last Friday of tax season, and I am going to miss it.

    I know it’s such a weird weird thing to say, but…..as crazy and hectic as things get here, the long hours have never bugged me that much in past years.

    Right at the start I went through the worst possible thing in my life and I was sick for most of it afterewards. I should be glad it’s over but I feel melancholy.

    This week we hit 3 months since my dad died and I hadn’t even realized it until I wrote down the date. I felt so shitty about that. I think about him every day, I go through my posts, that day is forever etched in my memories, but it still somehow felt like I FORGOT.

    Working 65 hours a week helped me stay sane and I’m now terrified of having all this extra time now that things are going “back to normal”. It helped me avoid the family drama (ther’es always drama) and from just crying 5 hours a day.

    I’m taking time off work next month to go back to the home country and take care of legal matters. In between there was a lot of drama, but it was so easy to ignore when I was working 65 hours a week, and I am now terrified and dreading facing all of this.

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess

      The grief fog tends to fade after 3 months. When my dad died, I suddenly felt worse after three months. Totally thought I was regressing and something was wrong.

      There’s nothing wrong. It’s perfectly normal. It’s just your brain realizing “Holy crap. This is permanent. As in PERMANENT permanent.”

      Be kind to yourself. This isn’t easy, and there is no one way to do it.

    2. BadWolf

      I’m going to say it’s good that you didn’t remember it was 3 months. Or, if not “good” at least not bad.

      I really worked myself into a state at the year anniversary of my dad’s passing. Like it was a Big Huge Thing. Then the day of, it really wasn’t a Huge Thing. I mean, I was sad, but it wasn’t worth the bad feelings I put on myself. And my father would not have wanted me to torture myself. (and this was around the time I finally went to a grief counselor, so that was pretty helpful too).

      It’s a bumpy road. Hang in there. Are there some fun things you can schedule for yourself post tax season? A new exercise class, an art class, a lecture series?

      1. NotMyRealName

        And if it was a big thing, that’s not bad either. There’s no right way. The anniversary of my father and my sister’s deaths is a hard day for me every year and it’s been more than a decade since my sister died. It is what it is.

    3. Bea

      I too get deep into work when stress and life are insane, it’s a coping mechanism because work is much more controlled than the outside world.

      I hope your trip home heals you more than it feels like it will right now.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        Omg yes. I started to realize this. Work stress is better than life stress bc I know how to cope with it. It’s controlled chaos.

        1. Bea

          I’m in accounting too, it’s even more controlled because it’s all the structures procedures and our reconciliation mind set. If I’m pushing numbers together my brain rarely wanders.

          It’s healthier than curling into a ball and drawing the shades for six months!

    4. Not So NewReader

      This sounds pretty normal to me. As you say, work gave you a time out. Yeah, it does get mind-bending. I’d recommend focusing on one thing at a time. Get through the tax season. Then after that organize/prepare mentally for your trip. It’s too hard right now with work levels peaking for the season to process much else.

      Once you are getting on your trip all the work madness will be behind you. So there will be minor relief there. I always find once I get started on a big project or mission, I feel better just because I have started. It’s when I can’t start the project/mission because Other Big Thing is in my way that I start getting antsy.

      Once you are with your family, you can go very practical and dry. “Family, I only have x time off and then I have to leave. If you want me to help, we need to focus on getting the work done. We don’t have time for arguing, etc.because I must leave.”

    5. Not That Jane

      I wasn’t working full time when my mom died, but I was an almost-full-time caregiver for my dad at that point, so I was busy. I remember he made some travel arrangements for a long weekend about 5 months after my mom died, and I made all these “plans” to sit and journal and grieve… and then when it actually came, and I had all that time to myself, I realized I had been grieving all along, I just hadn’t been aware of it. So. One lesson I learned is that it doesn’t always follow the timeline you expect.

      I eventually came up with this metaphor of what it’s like to lose a parent or close family member: it’s like the earthquake at the bottom of the ocean. It shakes everything up, but at first nothing really happens on the surface, and then hours (days, weeks, months, years) later, there’s, like, a huge tsunami in someplace thousands of miles away. It’s so deep and pervasive an effect that it may not even ruffle the surface much at first, though, you know? That was helpful for me.

      Sending internet hugs if they are wanted. I’ve lost both my parents now and it is tough, especially in the first year.

    6. FloralsForever

      My mother also passed away 3 months ago. I was in the fog for the first month, going to work, kind of going through the motions. My team was incredibly supportive and took some of my load away, but I was still doing daily transactions that were primarily data entry that were incredibly hard to pass off. Doing mindless work helped so much. Once I gave the eulogy, it was like a weight was lifted and life could go on.

      I know you’re terrified of how you will feel, I developed insomnia, actually, and have very vivid unpleasant dreams still sometimes. I’m telling you this because grief is powerful and it’s okay and very normal to be overwhelmed even 3 months later. Work has been a great distraction for me too, and I’m thankful I have a low drama family.

      Can you take some time alone to grieve for your father before you see family? Treat your grief and their drama as two separate issues? I’m a strong advocate of physically releasing emotions (the days after she passed I cried 12 hours, but was alone), which might provide the catharsis you’re looking for, so you can better deal with your family. Also, honoring her memory helped my grief, as well. My heart really goes out to you, I understand how devastated you might feel.

  20. Cristina in England

    Are there jobs out there where I can use my qualitative research skills, that aren’t market research?

    I am thinking of moving away from academia but I still want to use the skills I developed there. I am a qualitative researcher with a negligible amount of quantitative experience. I would like to find work where I can research topics and write reports. Do anyone of you have jobs that are like this, day to day?

    I wish I were more of a quantitative person (and have considered retraining to this end) but I really want to find a job where the primary data I work with is in words.

    1. hermit crab

      I work on government contracts at an environmental/energy consulting firm and do a ton of that. People on my team need the skills to, e.g., understand a confidence interval or do simple lookups in Excel, but the vast majority of what we do is more like synthesizing research findings, analyzing policy, and “translating” information from the highly detailed or technical to a format/level suitable for decision-makers. I also have friends in the nonprofit sector who do very similar things, across topic areas. Common job titles include “policy analyst” and “research associate.”

    2. Clare

      I currently work in monitoring and evaluation, and this is exactly what I do. (Well, plus writing research frameworks, liaising with clients and soothing consultants.) I specialise in international development, which usually requires international experience, but there are lots of evaluators in other areas if that’s not your bag.

      I assume from your username that you’re in the UK. I’d suggest looking at natcen.ac.uk; at the civil service websites, because there is a specialisation called social researcher that may appeal; at the UK Evaluation Society’s website to see what people do; and at general consultancy work. Jobs also come up on jobs.ac.uk and the Guardian relatively regularly.

    3. BananaStand

      Fundraising maybe? I know a lot of fundraising/development offices have prospect researchers that look into potential big donors and their potential to give. Not sure how much quantitative research is involved with that though.

      1. rldk

        Especially in grantwriting, quantitative is a super important skill. Especially if you want to write grants on behalf of researchers (think-tank or similar), being able to research their topic well enough to help them write a proposal and reports is essential!

    4. Lymon Zerga

      Yes–program evaluation! I have a master’s in sociology and this is what I do. I often tell people, “Like qualitative research? Hate academia? Evaluation is the field for you!” I work for a nonprofit and I spend my days interviewing our constituents, creating surveys, doing analyses of our documents, that sort of thing. The American Evaluation Association website has some resources you could check out to learn more.

    5. Maiasaura

      I used to have a job like this, evaluating public health messaging and communication. Think of all the great messaging work NHS does; someone has to figure out what works there. Technically it’s a form of marketing, but it’s also a social good, and extremely interesting. The primary terms I would search for in jobs and the United States would be “health communications”, “message testing”, “evaluation”, formative research”, “message development”, and “literature reviews”; it may be different in the UK, but that should get you started. Good luck!

    6. Ann O.

      Are you interested in ethnographic work or only reading/synthesizing? Because if you’re interested in non-market research ethnographic work, user experience would be work looking into.

    7. Quinoa

      What about UX Design? I know tons of designers who focus specifically on the research part of it.

        1. Optimistic Prime

          Well, where you’d want to go is UX research, but most of us don’t have computer science degrees. We tend to be social scientists (or sometimes have HCI degrees, or informatics).

          UX designers usually have graphic design/art degrees.

          1. Quinoa

            I actually know a number of UX designers in the US who have social science or not-for-profit administrator backgrounds. Many of them have gone through bootcamps to get the UX experience and the training. (And I know there are some good bootcamps in the UK.)

            1. Quinoa

              I forgot to mention that you should look into the group Ladies that UX. They started in the UK, though they’re all over the US now as well. You could probably find some members to talk with about what the work involves, whether it would be a good line of work for your interests and skill set, what other training you might need and where to get it. They have meet-ups regularly, so research LTUX and your location and see what you can find.

    8. Not That Jane

      Education? Our charter network is definitely using a ton of qualitative data to inform our programs. Maybe an ed tech company or innovative school.

    9. Anonymous Ampersand

      Evaluation. Especially for charities (based on the work history of my team colleagues). Also worth looking into: public health, government departments and regulation bodies.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale

      A lot of brand consultancies do qualitative work. I used to work for one, as a matter of fact! I’ve also hired them in the past. Granted, the smaller ones usually want a combination of qual and quant, but the firm where I used to work currently has a model where some people are qual, some people are quant. Sometimes you can find work like this in or via ad agencies; we worked with a lot of them in addition to working directly for brand clients. My current work is similar but there’s much less qualitative work.

    11. Cristina in England

      Thank you everyone for your replies.

      I did not know that Evaluation was its own field, and it sounds interesting so I shall look into it, thank you for the links and suggestions for that. It sounds like it might be similar to Internal Auditing? I don’t know much about that either, but it seems kind of similar.

      Government, health care and policy work also sound really interesting, thank you for suggesting that. I would like to feel like I’m contributing to something, so that’s definitely an avenue to consider.

      My previous experience is ethnography-adjacent, and I never would have ever thought of UX, thanks!

      I am going to look into the natcen and civil service pages as well, thanks very much, I never would have thought of that.

      I feel like there may be hope for me yet!

      1. UK Civil Servant

        Be aware that not all gov departments have the same pay scales.
        E.g. Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) absolutely does the kind of work you’re after, but will pay significantly less for it, at the same level of seniority, than other departments or even other parts of the Ministry of Defence.

      2. Grandma Mazur

        If you live within commuting distance of Swindon, there’s always the Research Councils (now UKRI)…

    12. Nerfmobile

      User experience research. Can be very qualitative and has good overlaps with market research skills.

    13. Optimistic Prime

      I’m a UX researcher and my job is exactly this – researching topics and writing reports! I have qual and quant training, but a lot of UX researchers have only qualitative training and there are lots of roles in which you would do only qualitative research.

  21. grace

    About more formal mentor relationships… My company does mentor/mentee pairings, and you meet on a regular basis. What sorts of questions do you ask to get the most out of that? If you’re a mentor, what do you want to be asked? (Or not asked!) Any suggestions are welcome. :-)

    1. Muriel Heslop

      I’ve been teaching for over 20 years and I still draw on things I learned from my formally assigned mentor. One of the great things she did was give me a list of everything that no one told her but she wished they had. I had a mento two years ago and I gave the same list to her. This probably varies by field, but it helped me to have a mentor who felt comfortable leading the relationship. Once we built a bond, I felt more comfortable going to her with questions and ideas.

      Good luck!

      1. grace

        Ah, that’s great! That’s one thing I’d planned to bring up, but it feels a bit awkward. :) I’m more of an in-person… person (lol), and because our country is spread across the coast, we’re strictly over the phone unless one of us visits the other office. But I’ll definitely bring that up, thanks!

      2. Lisa B

        That’s a GREAT item for a mentor to share- “things no one told me that I wish they had” !! I will add that to mine. If the person wants to go into the same field as the mentor, I talk about the things the mentee should be doing now to set themselves up well for the later. Classes, certifications, skillsets to brush up on, things like that. It can also depend on how experienced the mentee is. For my last student intern it was her first professional job, so my mentorship was really really basic (it’s ok to leave a meeting if someone isn’t being respectful and here’s how you do it with grace; bring paper and pen to all meetings; how to read nonverbals). For more experienced folks, guidance on the backdoor politics that aren’t in-your-face obvious.

      3. AnonResearchManager

        Alison, what about doing an AAM ask the readers post on “things no one told me about work, but I wish they had!”?
        I should think a bunch of readers would love a post like that.

  22. Amy Farrah Fowler

    Work is SOOOO slow this time of year. I know that things will pick back up in a couple weeks, but it’s like watching paint dry here. How do you keep yourself going during slow periods of your work?

    1. Caledonia

      Clear out my desk / office. Shred / file. Sort / delete emails. Ask anyone if they need help with anything. Training courses. Take leave / holidays.

      1. Lisa B

        Agree with training courses. Coursera is good for something with more structure, but you can find a lot on youtube. Ask your manager if there’s someone you could assist in a department your group works closely with.

      2. Amy Farrah Fowler

        Good idea! I work from home, and we’re primarily paperless, but my desk could still use a good cleaning.

    2. Not So Super-visor

      We’re in the same boat here right now with our seasonal slow down. It’ll only be a few weeks, and then we’ll be busy, busy, busy again, but people never seem to remember that.
      I will tell you what not to do: demand that your manager take away projects from coworkers simply because they have less seniority. I dealt with that one yesterday.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler

        Oh, yikes! I wouldn’t dream of taking things away from people (unless they were swamped and needed/welcomed the help). I have taken on a couple side projects from my manager, but just finished those up and my manager is off today. Maybe I can get some other projects from her next week.

    3. Happy Lurker

      AAM – seriously. I have looked at every post this week. I haven’t done that in like…a year.

  23. Falling Diphthong

    Survivor this week had a nice encapsulation of an office dynamic we see here a lot:

    Fergus: I hate Wakeen, and everyone else in the office agrees with me.
    Wakeen: I hate Fergus, and everyone else in the office agrees with me.
    Everyone else: Fergus and Wakeen’s endless feud is really annoying, and we need to take out one of them at random.

      1. Princess Scrivener

        Oh my GOSH, I love Wendell, right? “You can’t rap. You have no bars.” Lol, I just outed myself as a Survivor dork, I guess.

    1. Interested Bystander

      OMG this was two people at OldJob! One was a Payroll Clerk, and the other was an AR clerk, and these ladies hated each other, and were always trying to get everyone else on their side. It was exhausting…

  24. She's One Crazy Diamond

    Last week, I wrote a report with a grid showing statistics and several bullet points. I sent it to my project manager for review. He said that it wasn’t good enough and that he would send the report out himself. When he sent it out, I saw that it was almost identical to the report I wrote (every single one of the bullet points were what I wrote) but that he updated a couple of the stats in the grid and replaced my name with his. Is this normal? What should I do?

      1. She's One Crazy Diamond

        That’s not the issue. The issue is that he plagiarized my work and took credit for it.

        1. Murphy

          Oh I know. I’m not saying that you actually need to know what you could do better. But I think it’s a good way to get them to explain themselves/the lack of differences between what you wrote and what they sent out. But I think a boss/project manager/someone above you putting their name on your work isn’t unheard of (depending on your industry) and probably not a thing you can call them out on.

            1. Murphy

              Sorry I didn’t properly explain what I meant the first time. I’d be annoyed too if I was in your place.

    1. Kathleen_A

      YMMV, but I don’t think you can tax your boss with “plagiarizing my work and taking credit for it.” I mean, it does sound as though that’s what he did – I’m not disputing that – but I cannot imagine how a conversation about it with him can go well or change things for the better.

      So your remaining choices are: (1) To let it go. I’d have a lot of problems with this, but there are times when, sadly, it’s your best option. (2) To report the problem to someone higher up. Or (3) To subtly let him know that you noticed a problem so that maybe he doesn’t do it again. In that case, Murphy’s approach is actually a pretty good one! You could print out your original document, bring it into a one-on-one meeting and talk about it.

    2. bluelyon

      That doesn’t sound like plagiarism frankly. It sounds totally normal.
      The highest ranking person will generally send the report under their name. I would ask for feedback about what needs to be improved for “good enough” in a general sense but to be honest it sounds like you’re getting annoyed over something that’s pretty common practice in a lot of fields.
      This is different for something like a journal article or book but a report doesn’t seem to meet that threshold.

      1. WFH Lurker

        I had a coworker whose responsibilities in a former company included producing monthly metrics. He would send the metrics to his boss, who would then go and modify the numbers to make the metrics look more favorable. My coworker started pdf-ing the charts, knowing that his boss didn’t know how to edit a pdf. Angst ensued. My coworker wound up out of a job, but for some reason relishes the experience to this day.

        1. Canadian Teapots

          That kind of Sovietesque statistical manipulation does nobody any good in the long run. Making decisions based on bad data never turns out well.

          Co-worker is right to relish the experience of knowing his boss realized they were being called out on their “numbers massaging”, because directly ordering co-worker to modify the numbers would’ve been a red flag he could take to HR or to the boss’s boss.

  25. Anon for this one

    The company I work for merged with another company. The other company has a random drug test policy. My company doesn’t but the policy was brought over as part of the merger.

    In both the state the other company is from and my state, marijuana is not legal. Not for medical or personal use. Full stop. There is no decriminalization, no diversion or no civil offenses. Any possession of any amount or any kind of marijuana charge is prosecuted criminally.

    We work in an office, not in a place where we drive or operate construction equipment or anything like that. According to the new handbook, any positive test or refusal means immediate firing. Only legal prescription drugs are exempt.

    I went to a lawyer and what they are doing is perfectly legal. No one who opposes has a leg to stand on.

    I use marijuana recreationally daily. This company is the majority employer in this area. The benefits are better than average by far and are great. We all got raised after the merger and the pay was good before it even.

    It sucks because I don’t want to get fired or lose my reference but I can’t afford to quit right now and I won’t be able to easily find a job with the same benefits and pay. Two people have already been fired. One told me he failed the test and the other publicly refused.

    Just venting. This situation sucks and the company will not entertain any pushback.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Unfortunately, because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, you don’t have much recourse from a legal standpoint.

      Can you stop using for a while to pass your drug test?

      1. Lisa B

        I don’t think stopping for a while would work if the new company uses random drug tests. Any chance you know someone who works at the new company that could tell you discretely how often they actually do this? Some companies will say they do random tests but only actually do it if there’s cause for concern (workplace incident/complaint about impairment that is impacting work, etc.).

        1. Anon for this one

          Only management knows when the tests will be so I can’t ask anyone. I thought of asking someone I know in HR but he isn’t a manager and he said that even managers only decide a few days in advance. They have already tested people even though there wasn’t an incident. And I’ve heard from two people at the offer at the other company that they randomly pop up every once in a while.

          1. Annon for this

            Years ago I had a friend use Urine Luck, with great luck. They were not fired!
            I have no idea where it was purchased or if it even still exists.

      2. Anon for this one

        Unfortunately the tests are random. They tell you when you get to work in the morning and you have to report for your test sometime during the work day (our office hours/hours of work are 8:30 to 4:00 with lunch between 12 and 12:30).

        The lab is approximately 20 minutes from here. We don’t have transit here so everyone drives but the company will expense a cab if you can’t drive. No one will have any idea when it’s time to go because it is completely random. And not showing up is taken as a refusal.

        1. Ali G

          Yeah this is how it was with my job. Can you get any insight on the schedule? At my old job, they randomly picked 5-10 people within the first few weeks of each quarter. So, if you didn’t get picked at the beginning of the quarter you were good for a couple of months.
          But we had the same policy – you get the email and you are required to report to the testing site within 2 hours. If not, you are fired and if you test positive, you are fired. Only exceptions were if you were on PTO or traveling to an area with no contracted testing site.

        2. Detective Amy Santiago

          Sorry, my eyes totally skipped over the word “random” in your first comment.

          It does suck that you’re doing something perfectly legal and can get fired for it, but it sounds like your choices right now are to quit smoking or start job hunting.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago

            And I also clearly missed the word “not” in front of legal. I need more caffeine before I comment anymore.

          2. Windchime

            I live in a state where it’s totally legal and has been for awhile (Washington). My previous employer sent out a notice as soon as it was made legal, letting people know that it was still against company policy and they would still fire people for using it. Crazy-pants.

            My current employer could care less and doesn’t drug test.

        3. AnonAnswer

          If you’re interested in beating the test (if it’s a closed door test without the test facility operator watching), here’s what you do:
          Go to a head shop and buy a synthetic urine kit. These do work for almost all pre-employment/random urine screenings, but will not work for more intensive government or hair tests.
          Keep the kit in your car (but be discrete, don’t leave it laying around where anyone can see it).
          If you’re randomly called in for testing, use the kit as directed, it should come with more than enough liquid and a warmer to beat the temperature aspect of the test.

          I’m not a marijuana user, but I hate how corporations encroach on employee privacy. What you do is your business, so I have no problem telling folks how to get around this nonsense.

          1. branch

            You beat me to it! I was going to say get thee to a head shop. Another note on the synthetic urine kit — it does have an expiration date, so keep an eye on that.

            To those who say “why can’t they just quit” even if the OP does quit right now (or yesterday for that matter) THC stays in your system for at least 30 days.

      3. paul

        Most states will let you test for *legal* substances; tobacco’s a big one with health care providers (i.e don’t smoke, don’t test positive for nicotine).

    2. KTemgee

      That is a sucky situation. Have you thought about quitting? That really sounds like your only option in order to keep your job in the event the drug test does come up. I don’t agree with it, but it is illegal in your state, and there doesn’t seem to be any way you can push back with even a little bit of success.

      1. Kathleen_A

        I think that if you can’t/don’t want to get another job, this is truly your best option. Your choices are to leave this job, take a chance on getting booted from this job, or give up marijuana. It really is that simple.

      2. Kathleen_A

        My earlier comment in this thread disappeared, so I hope I don’t end up repeating myself.

        But anyway, I agree that if you can’t/don’t want to leave this job, quitting smoking is probably your best option. Your only real choices are: (1) Leave this job; (2) risk getting booted from this job (which would stress me out to no end); or (3) quit smoking. That’s pretty much it.

    3. Anon because drugs

      I’m going to be blunt. Marijuana is not legal in your state and yet you use it daily. You are breaking the law. It sucks but breaking the law has consequences, even if you don’t agree with the law. Since it’s a random testing policy, you need to decide what is more important to you: working at a company with great benefits and great pay, or your daily recreational drug use. And you also need to realize that *if* you choose drugs over your job, you have a problem in that you will likely end up jobless, which you can’t afford, which could cascade into a whole host of problems. What are your priorities?

      1. Bostonian

        Whoa, that’s a little harsh. Speeding, as well as texting while driving, is also illegal (and arguably more dangerous than smoking while relaxing in one’s home), but most people would say you shouldn’t be fired for it.

        The fact that this company is testing their employees for marijuana is totally invasive and unnecessary because someone could be sober at work and still have a positive test result. They’re essentially policing your activity outside of work. And while it is illegal on the federal level, it really isn’t the employer’s business as long as people aren’t showing up to work high.

        1. Working Hypothesis

          Well, I’d argue that you should be fired for texting while driving, and probably also arrested for it. But I’ve lost a dear friend because someone did this.

          I don’t see a comparison with private, voluntary use of a drug outside of work hours. There’s no unconsenting parties harmed by marijuana use. There very well may be by texting while driving.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Of course, another way of framing it is that she’d be choosing personal liberty and privacy over this particular job. Presumably she can find one of the other many jobs that won’t invade her privacy in this way, if she decides that’s what she wants to do. (But I do agree she’s not going to get anywhere pushing back on this particular company, and that she needs to decide if she wants to stop smoking pot or find a new job. Either is legitimate.)

    4. ThatGirl

      Yes, it sucks. I personally think marijuana should be treated like alcohol. But you have always known it’s not legal in your state, and you choose to use it daily regardless. Sounds like you have a choice to keep using it despite the potential consequences or stop using and keep your job.

    5. Bea

      We’re in a legal state and there are still plenty of places who will do random drug tests and pot is on the panel.

      Some places don’t care about weed, others follow federal guidelines.

      Just so you know this is still a thing for legal medical and rec states too!

      To save yourself the suffering from stress and possible eventual firing, if you can stop, do so. Then get to job searching to leave this place.

      The fact they are so heavy handed on this random testing makes me worry that it’s only a matter of time before your name comes up.

      All my previous employers only test if there’s suspicion you’re high at work or you’ve gotten hurt.

        1. Bea

          That’s a very personal thing that has to be made by anyone in the situation

          It’s also easy enough to find a job that doesn’t test for drugs.

          It also reminds me of Half Baked when thinking of rehab for pot.

    6. mary jane

      This happened to me with a tech merger.
      I stopped using even though MJ is legal in my state for both recreational and medical use. The merger coincided with better mental health insurance so I was able to get cognitive behavioral counseling and a prescription for prozac which removed 98% of the reason I did recreational MJ (relief from anxiety – the other 2% is that I really enjoy MJ and sci fi movies and MJ and nature hikes, which I was willing to sacrifice for the best job I’ve had so far) – I am not saying this applies to you at all, but it’s what helped me.

      If you’re a daily user, the sooner you stop the better, because it can take up to a month of abstaining for a clean test. (I’m a woman, and for some biological reason, THC stays in our bodies longer than men’s).

      I’m sorry. I hate MJ prohibition too and vastly prefer MJ over alcohol in order to get into a fun, buzzy altered state on my own personal time.

      If you google “how to pass a drug test” there are a bunch of products with varying reviews on if they work or not. These products are illegal for passing legally-mandated drug tests (like if you’re on parole). I wouldn’t do it myself (i’m way too anxious/nervous, and not a great rule-breaker), but others have used these products to pass a test, and if you do not want to give up your recreational usage, they might be your only option.

    7. LurkNoMore

      I know a large international company that uses random drug tests as a way to easily reduce the work force. Anytime the company is looking to reduce labor costs, they wait until the local college’s football team has a big home game that weekend and then conduct the tests that following Monday morning. It works every time.

    8. GuitarLady

      I’m so sorry. That does really suck. A friend of mine is also a daily user, and he had to delay taking a new job til he could pass a drug test. Luckily it was just a one-time thing. It took 63 days until it was out of his system enough to pass a test, so even if you quit today, your job would still be in jeopardy for up to 2 months. I would start preparing now to lose this job. I hope luck is with you, and you manage to not get tested until you can get it out of your system, if you decide this job is worth keeping!

    9. Yikes

      I support legalization 100%. But I’m always shocked that Alison allows comments on how to beat drugs tests by illegal means. I can remember at least one other discussion besides this one where it was allowed and even encouraged. I don’t agree with drug testing employees. But advocating for illegal means with huge consequences if caught is a different matter and I’m surprised it is allowed here. Especially when other comments are sometimes deleted for less than advocating illegal activity

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Comment deletion here is relatively rare, and it’s generally for violations of the commenting rules (like hostility or attacks on other commenters, off-topic posts, etc.).

        We’re all adults here (mostly, at least) and can make our own adult decisions about what advice to take or not take. That said, I don’t remember “how to beat a drug test” ever coming up here before today, although I could be wrong about that. But I certainly haven’t encouraged it (and think it’s a really risky thing to do, because a lot of labs have ways to spot these strategies).

      2. [insert witty user name here]

        Genuinely curious question: in this case, would it actually be *illegal* or just against company policy? This is just a company issued test, not a court issued test. I mean, sure, it’s splitting hairs, but also somewhat germane to Yikes’ discussion point.

        1. mary jane

          It’s illegal in some states to sell these products, so if “anon for this” lives in one of those states, I guess it would be.

        2. Admin of Sys

          That is an interesting question – At most, I think you’d get in trouble for falsifying data? But there is a form you sign attesting that you are providing your own unadulterated ‘test materials’, iirc. (I had drug tests at previous companies, but it’s been a while) I think most states don’t even criminalize having the drug in your system – it’s the possession / sale of the drug that’s illegal, not having it in your blood stream. (unless it’s a DUI or something)

    10. Glomarization, Esq.

      One wrinkle you may want to keep in mind: If you get fired, or you are “permitted” to resign in lieu of termination, then that’s something you may end up having to explain to a future prospective employer. Or it may come up in applying for a professional license, or government security clearance. And of course there are consequences regarding collecting unemployment.

      1. LilySparrow

        Yes. It’s not just this job. Even companies that don’t test may have a problem with a history of termination for cause.
        Unless you plan to make “marijuana-friendly workplace” one of your job-search criteria, this situation has long term risks.

    11. Syren

      I’m curious to get another perspective on this idea from someone in HR or a lawyer on this blog. I used to work in HR many many moons ago. One of the employees came to us to let us know that they were in treatment for addiction. We had a strict policy similar to the one above. The employee asked for ADA protection for the rehab related activities (not as response to a positive screening). We talked with our lawyer who advised us they were protected under the ADA as long as they were in treatment. When they were in an accident, they had a positive screen but we did not fire them. We consulted with the lawyer and they advised against it. Since it has been 8 years since I worked in HR, more of a hypothetical, could the employee get protection from this policy if they asked for an accommodation for addiction? Not that they would want to exercise this option, but could it be an option for this situation?

      1. Anon for this one

        I didn’t know that addiction was covered under the ADA or that it could prevent someone from being fired if they caused an accident. I learn so much from Alison and the people who comment. I hope at least no one was hurt in the accident.

        The lawyer I spoke to told me that saying I have an addiction would mean I would have to get treatment because the company would not allow me to keep failing drug tests that they are legally allowed to give. The protection of the ADA would not last me forever. So basically not an option for me.

        1. valentine

          Given how strict they are, it’s not a good idea to admit to use or to risk asking anyone within the company (or who may repeat what you say to anyone at the company) for details about the testing. I see you want to keep both the drug and the job, but do the benefits of either clearly take precedence for you?

      2. Belle

        Also, the ADA may not cover the addiction if it is illegal (alcohol and pain meds are the ones I have seen most often covered). So even if you disclosed, there is a chance that you could not be protected, which is a big risk to take.

        I have also seen unemployment denied for testing positive for illegal substances — so that is also something to keep in mind – just in case.

  26. Anon.

    Confession: about a month ago, I decided to retire at the end of 2019. I spent the first few weeks in a panic about finances. I’ve settled down now, and knuckled down to get everything in place. But now I’ve got “retirement brain”. In long term strategy meetings, I’m like, well, how much do I actually care? On the flip side, I’ve been more forceful than previously about setting up long term solutions to problems that I see/foresee, and I’m thinking about getting in some new hires, with the idea that one of them will take my place. So I sort of care, and I sort of don’t.

    1. Parenthetically

      I’ve basically decided I’m not returning to work after the end of the school year to stay home with my kid, so I sympathize with “retirement brain”! How much do my students REALLY need to be taught? Can’t I just show them movies based on books for the rest of the year? ;)

    2. AnotherJill

      I retired a year ago from a fairly senior position in my department. I pretty much happily checked out for the six months or so prior to my last day because I felt that since I would not be around, I really had no dog in the fight for long term decisions. There were a couple of things that I worked on that I still felt a little ownership of, but overall, I felt like the folks remaining needed to figure out how to work without my input. So it’s okay (and really good for both you and them) to ramp down how much you care.

  27. Felicity

    I have a variation of the thanking a manager, gifts flowing upwards eternal question.

    I have a manager who has helped me a lot. He’s given me a lot of pertinent advice, pushed me out of my comfort zone just enough to challenge me without feeling like I’m drowning and has put my name forward for a lot of opportunities.

    He’s making a parallel move in the company (project managing a team involved in teapot delivery as opposed to teapot design) to get more experience in different parts of the teapot life cycle.

    This means he won’t be my manager any more, though we will still be at the same teapot co.

    I’d like to find an appropriate way to thank him for everything he’s done for me. Is a bottle of wine violating the gifts flow upwards rule? Help!

    1. Muriel Heslop

      I agree that a really thoughtful note would be great. Always my favorite thing to receive at work. I can buy my own food and wine.

    2. sleepy anon

      Do you know he drinks wine and more accurately the kind you want to get him? That seems like a really personal gift imho.

      1. Felicity

        Yes, after work drinks are common enough that I could buy something to his taste.

        But I am on the spectrum, so I appreciate that it might be too personal and I haven’t realised

        1. Casual Dave

          No wine is only “too personal” if you don’t know for sure if someone will like the wine or even drinks at all.

        2. Marillenbaum

          For myself, I don’t think a single nice bottle of wine with a note would cross the line into being overly personal.

        3. Yorick

          I don’t think wine is a particularly personal gift, so that may vary by person.

          As long as you know someone drinks, I think it’s ok to give a wine without knowing their exact wine preference. I would still think it was a lovely gift if someone gave me a wine that I wouldn’t have bought for myself.

    3. Trout 'Waver

      +1 on the handwritten note. My last intern wrote me a really nice note when he left and I still smile when I think of it.

    4. Bea

      You know he likes wine.

      So a bottle with a thoughtful note is a good idea and I say go for it.

      My old boss loved wine, we talked about it frequently. For Christmas before I left I got her my favorite and told her how much the place and her family (fam business) meant to me.

      It’s not personal at all. That’s such an odd stance but it’s pivotal that you know someone drinks and enjoys alcohol.

      Case and point my old boss had a severely alcoholic son. Nobody should be giving him liquor.

      It’s a know your audience thing in every case. I know that’s difficult often. If you didn’t know his habits, I would say just a note but you know so should continue with your original idea :)

    5. AFreeLabRat

      I agree with all the comments about the nice note, if you want to give something physical I’m always a fan of a small plant for their desk/office, you can get a cute one for under 10$ and it feels thoughtful without being personal.

    6. MeM

      At my company, alcohol is not allowed on the premises, even if it wrapped as a gift and there is no intent to open it. If you plan to give it at work, you may unintentionally be giving your recipient a problem if your company has this restriction – check first.

      The note alone is probably good enough – if you really want to add a gift, is there something for the new office you could give? Coffee cup, new business card holder, unique mouse pad that goes along with the managers interest, etc.?

  28. sleepy anon

    This was kind of prompted by the letter from earlier this week, but I’m in a pickle and I need some advice on if I should go ahead and try to take FMLA or not. I have severe insomnia, the “don’t sleep for days and if I can get an hour of sleep I greedily hoard it” kind. It’s been see-sawing between decently managed and off the rails completely for the past few months.

    I’m trying to get in to see a new sleep specialist as my current doctor is leaving at the end of this month, but it’s already been a month of trying and I still don’t even have an appointment date set. Just this week alone I missed an hour on tuesday in the morning, all day wednesday because of side effects of my current medication(couldn’t even stand), and then an hour and a half this morning.

    I hate being unreliable and I can feel my coworkers starting to get upset that I’m missing so much work, but every night is a crapshoot on if I’ll get any sleep at all, or if I’ll manage to fall asleep at 6am and desperately call in for another hour of sleep in the morning. If I don’t sleep I’m non-functional at best, and while my job doesn’t require high funciton, I’m known for being very high functioning and the days I have come in when I’m miserable I’ve been asked non-stop if I’m okay, if I need to go home, etc. even after I explain going home will do nothing unless I can sleep.

    I work an hourly position with decent benifits; they’ve been allowing me to take sick time for this. I’m worried bringing up FMLA will put them in a different mindset looking at me(though everyone knows of my insomnia), but I’m worried if I don’t my job might be at risk. I’ve never seen anyone get fired in the two years I’ve been here, but I could still be the first.

    1. Fishsticks

      Could you ask for flexible start time? So if you are can’t make it in at your start time it won’t be as major? (I know nothing about FMLA so I’m not going to comment on that)

      1. sleepy anon

        I’m not sure. We don’t work late and have fixed business hours so I don’t know if a flexible start time would be possible. I’m hesitant to even bring up the whole thing unless I have a solid plan with a backup because my boss is very much a “come to me with a problem and a solution” kind of person.

    2. Schnoodle

      Take care of yourself. Keep trying to get in with a sleep specialist, and yes, take FMLA if needed. Your health is #1. Your performance will only suffer if you’re only attempting to survive instead of recovering fully.

    3. Jadelyn

      The whole point of FMLA is that they *can’t* put your job at risk for taking sick time, if you’re on FMLA. Please, please please do talk to your HR about FMLA. It will protect your job, not put it further at risk.

      If you don’t take FMLA and just try to power through, they can put you on a PIP for attendance or fire you for it.

      If you do take FMLA, your absences are protected and can’t be used against you.

    4. Bea

      First are you in a company covered with FLMA? I know a lot of folks who want to invoke that right but you do have to work where there is more than 50 employees.

      I would approach them since this is chronic and you’re seeking treatment. So you call also see if you fall under ADA as well for reasonable accommodations which somewhat of a flex schedule may help.

      If they know it’s medial leave, many will cease side eyeing and acting put out. They can also get you more backup.

      Since you’re known for high productivity and it’s noticed, you can get a lot more empathy by being forward.

      When my mom needed Flma they bent over backwards to accommodate the leave and get her back because she’s a damn good worker they didn’t want to leave. Most decent HR and supervisors will understand it’s a medical situation.

      1. she was a fast machine

        We definitely are covered; more than 50 employees and a government agency to boot. Unfortunately, though we don’t have actual HR so I’m nervous about approaching my boss about it, but I’ve emailed her to get an appointment next week so…we’ll see.

        1. Bea

          How do you operate without HR…my eyes just popped at over 50ppl without someone watching out for legalities. Government jobs give my private sector self internal hives!!

          1. she was a fast machine

            We have one lady who handles payroll and such and one lady(who is also the director’s secretary) who handles hiring and such. It is pretty scary but we usually don’t have any troubles. Honestly, everyone here truly seems to be a good person and wants what’s best for the org and the people who work here…but it is a ticking time bomb because it can’t possibly always stay that way.

          2. Doreen

            I work for a state government and the tiny agencies don’t have their own HR, finance etc departments. But it’s not that there isn’t any HR – there’s a “shared services” arrangement where a larger agency’s HR department handles the smaller agency’s needs. It’s possible that your agency has a similar arrangement.

        2. Cowgirlinhiding

          No HR is scary but do-able. If you get all of the FLMA paperwork together (go to US Department of Labor and look for FMLA) and present it to your boss so that he doesn’t have to do any extra work. The paper you are looking for is a Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition. You will take this to the doctor you are working with and they fill in the blanks. Gives your boss the information he needs to put on file to run your FMLA. They may require you use all of your sick leave before using starting the day count. Good luck – not having sleep is terrible.

    5. valentine

      See if your doctor or your GP can refer you for a sleep study. When you ask for FMLA, mention you’re working with your doctor. If you can work from home or change your hours, or both, that seems a good place to start. If you sleep better when you don’t have a schedule to keep, look at the hours you keep and see how you might adjust them to get some work in. Maybe you need 9-12 hours of sleep, or you would do best working a split shift. If you could work from home for a week, perhaps with fewer deliverables due or tasks with longer timeframes, would you be able to experiment?

  29. CatCat

    I read the news reported by the American Bar Association Journal and every now and then, there’s an interesting piece related to hiring and employment shenanigans. So this week, we learn that there’s more than one reason it may be a bad idea to interview a job candidate to dig up dirt on a competitor, record that conversation, and then use the responses to job interview questions in a legal action against your competitor. Aside from it just feeling icky, this is a good one because the guy who did it shows up in the comments to defend his company’s actions (that seems to go over like a lead balloon).

    “Sanctions motion argues law firm secretly recorded job interview to gain information for suit”
    http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/sanctions_motion_argues_law_firm_secretly_recorded_job_interview_to_gain

    1. fposte

      The corollary to “don’t read the comments” has to be “don’t show up in the comments to defend yourself.”

    2. MissGirl

      Somebody needs to take away that lawyer’s shovel. He just keeps digging, in a public forum using his own name, no less.

    3. Marthooh

      But he’s protected by the Second Amendment!

      ‘The Second Amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of the free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The term “arms” is not defined, and certainly smartphones and other audio and video recorders are arms in that they can help keep the public safe..’

      I want to imagine the judge sputtering “Why, this is highly irregular! … but I’m going to allow it just for the entertainment value.”

    4. SubwayFan

      Late to this party, but I actually know that guy. I used to work for a company in an industry closely linked with intellectual property. The company he was working for at the time tried to threaten my company over a free tool we had built as part of a marketing campaign, and man, I remember at the time thinking he was shady as all get out. Not surprised to see how this went down.

  30. Fishsticks

    Hello!
    I wanted to get a feel for if I’m taking too much vacation time. I started last June right after graduation at a two person business. Since it’s so small, my boss doesn’t bother tracking my vacation/sick time and says “be reasonable” with how much vacation I take. I’ve taken off a day here and there and in January took a week off since I had family visiting. Now in May, I’ve taking 3 days off for an unexpected wedding and I plan on taking 3 days off in November for Thanksgiving and possibly a Friday off in July. Is this reasonable or should I try and cut back?

    tldr: Recently started and have no set vacation policy, am I taking too much time off?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Curious Cat

      This seems like a reasonable amount of time off to me. I also started at my company last June after graduation and I took a few days off in the summer, a couple days for Thanksgiving, a couple extraneous random days, I have 3 days for May & planning a week in August. But it’s also dependent on company culture — so how much time off is everyone else taking? Do they seem to be doing the same thing? If your boss hasn’t said anything or seemed upset with your requests off, I’d take it to mean everything’s fine with your vacation.

      1. Fishsticks

        It’s just me and him in the company so I can’t really compare it to anyone else unfortunately. Thank you for the advice!

    2. Schnoodle

      I’d say it’s on the cuff. Many companies don’t even offer PTO the first year, and if they do it’s usually between 40-80 hours a year.

      I’d try to stick to 80 hours the first couple of years, but you’ll know the culture best. If they are totally okay with this much vacation, then do keep up your work life balance, it’s important. But from what I’ve seen, that’s a good bit of vacation to take your first year and a half. Not that I’m against it, just that Corporate American isn’t a huge fan.

      1. ThatGirl

        I don’t think I’d ever work for a company that didn’t offer PTO the first year. Two to three weeks is pretty standard, though some places want you to wait 3 months or so to take any.

        1. Elmyra Duff

          I just happened across a job posting this afternoon that bragged about 3 PTO days after a year of service. America is screwed up.

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        I have no idea of the statistics on this, but I’ve never encountered an employer that doesn’t offer PTO in the first year. I’d be very surprised to hear that it’s “most.”

        My jobs have offered (in my first year with them): 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks, and 6 weeks. Obviously, I got progressively more senior (and hence had better benefits) with each of those roles.

        1. Schnoodle

          I’m looking at it from the entry level employee.

          I personally haven’t taken a job offer in years that didn’t’ specify I had 3 weeks PTO to start, but I’m senior management.

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

          Right, but I’ve literally never run across an organization that offers zero PTO for entry-level employees. None of the orgs I worked for had that policy (entry-level PTO at my four employers was 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks, and 3 weeks).

          1. Schnoodle

            Both my current and last position, entry level “field” or “floor” employees didn’t have vacation until they worked a year.

            Before that, they did have it, but it was accrued so it would take a whole year to get the 40hrs/80 hrs whatever the policy was, so not immediate.

            That said, I’ve always worked for SMALL companies (500 or less, usually closer to 100).

            1. Amy Farrah Fowler

              My sister’s company has the STINGIEST PTO policy. I hate it on her behalf. She’s hourly and accrues vacation based on hours worked, so if on any given week she doesn’t hit her 40 (or take vacation/sick time to make up the difference), she doesn’t accrue all of her vacation. Those hours do not become available to her until her anniversary date.

              So no vacation the first YEAR and that first year, you only accrue 40 hrs. She got sick during her first few months and missed several days (completely unexpected/unavoidable), so when her anniversary rolled around, she only got something like 38 hours. Absolutely ridiculous. She even had to argue with them this last year because they gave her a bereavement day when our grandmother passed so she could go to the funeral… but the system didn’t have her accruing PTO for the bereavement day, I know it’s a very small fraction of an hour, but the principle of it is absolutely disgusting.

              My job is 4 wks PTO and I can use it as I accrue it and the company will allow you to go up to, I think 40 hours in the negative (which really impressed me because a lot of places won’t allow you to go negative in PTO)

          2. Elmyra Duff

            Warehouses, retail, food, general labor. Mostly anything that aren’t in an office. Data entry and call centers are bad about this, too. Blue collar jobs almost never offer anything in the first year, unless it’s some kind of unicorn company.

    3. Moonlight Doughnut

      It sounds like you can just ask! Show your proposed schedule to your boss and ask if it’s acceptable! Say something like: “It’s great that you’ve offered me some flexibility with regard to my days off, but I want to make sure I’m still putting in the hours you want and accomplishing the needs of your business. Here’s the planned vacation time I have for the next 6-12 months, and it’s likely I’ll need a couple of sick days/mental health days throughout that time period. In total, about X or X+2 days. Does that seem reasonable to you?”

    4. Jennifer

      This is gonna depend on your work culture big time. I don’t think this sounds unreasonable though whatsoever.

      I think “unreasonable” would be something like taking more than 2 weeks off at a stretch (though if you do some long international trip, that’s probably not doable), or taking lots of weeks off throughout the year. If you were out for a week at least once a month or something like that.

    5. TotesMaGoats

      Ask your boss! I’m struggling with how to frame it that doesn’t come off like “i’m newbie and need your guidance” but maybe a loop into a conversation about other things you are checking on?
      “Can you give me feedback on how I”m handling X, Y and Z tasks?”
      “You rock. Here’s a couple things I notice but otherwise. Good job Fishsticks.”
      “Thanks. Is my PTO usage in line with what you were expecting?”

      I’m still not super happy with the last line but that’s where I would go with it.

      1. Fishsticks

        Thank you for the possible lines! I check in with him every other morning or so and every evening before I leave just because of the size of the company so it’s pretty easy to work those in!

    6. Tardigrade

      That all sounds like about 2-3 weeks spread out over the year, which doesn’t seem unreasonable to me but my opinion doesn’t matter. If you’re really concerned, ask your boss about it.

    7. Rookie Manager

      I think that seems like a very small amount of leave, however I’m UK based. For comparison I am at the bottom of my organisations leave allowance. Couple of days in January, a couple of days in March, a week booked in June, 1 day in June, 2 weeks booked for September a couple of days in November and I still have plenty room to book Christmas and anything that comes up.

    8. Fishsticks

      Thanks so much for comments! I just wanted to make sure it seemed reasonable from an outside perspective since the company is so small and I can’t compare myself to anyone for stuff like this.

    9. LKW

      I get about 5 weeks of personal time per year – which is a lot. If you’re in this range, when you start adding it up – you’re fine. If you’re over, it might be worthwhile to consider if you’re taking advantage. If you’re very under – then take some damn time for yourself.

      1. Jady

        I think 5 weeks is pretty high. OP is just out of college. OP wouldn’t typically get that much PTO at an average company (in the US).

    10. Jady

      Up to 15 days of total absences is reasonable for your average office job (10 days vacation, 5 sick leave). If you go over 15, it’d be best to talk to your boss.

      Since he seems so casual about time tracking, I wouldn’t be concerned until it’s over 15.

    11. LilySparrow

      It sounds like you took about 10 days in your first 12 months, but you waited till you’d been there 6 months to take a whole week. That sounds reasonable. Most places I’ve worked gave 5-10 days PTO the first year, then it went up to 15 days after you’d been there a few years.

      I worked one place where you got 10 days PTO the first year, but it accrued. IIRC, it was no PTO for 6 months, then you got 40 hours, and added 8 hours at a time until you got to 80 hours.

      Assuming your “calendar” starts over on your hire anniversary, your planned time off for July and November would be in your second year.

    12. yep

      Since it’s such a small company I’d go to your boss and just say “hey this is what I’m thinking for vacations this year.” It might be he wants the same Friday in July off and would rather you be there to keep the place open. My fiance works for a SUPER small tech company (I think there’s 7 employees total?) and basically as long SOMEONE is around to keep the place operating and your work is getting done, they don’t really track days off.

    13. MeM

      Large corporations that I’ve worked for, and govt positions, seem to give ~10 to 13 days of paid holidays a year. Large corps I’ve worked for have seemed to add in addition to the holidays 80 hrs/yr for 10 yrs service or less, 120 hrs at 15 years service and 160 at 20 years of service and staying there. Govt jobs often have annual leave that accrues at the rate of 4 hrs every two weeks for less than 3 years of service, 6 hrs every two weeks for 3 to 15 years of service, and 8 hrs every two weeks for more than 15 years of service.

  31. Bend & Snap

    After 2 1/2 of post merger hell and a 9-month interview process, I finally nailed down a new job! Remote work, great title, great money, in a subject area I’m really excited about.

    Giving my notice on Monday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. Muriel Heslop

    I am special ed teacher and I’m quitting my job soon because of the paperwork load. It’s just too, too much. Love the kids; endure the parents.

    What should I say to colleagues and other people who respond to news of my leaving with, “Please don’t quit – we need teachers like you!” My only responses so far have been rude or snarky (and I am generally neither.) I really don’t want to get into it with people.

    1. Parenthetically

      “Thank you so much, what a kind thing to say.” Possibly adding, if appropriate, “I’ll definitely miss working with these kids.” *subject change*

      1. Muriel Heslop

        “I’ll really miss the kids” is perfect and definitely true. Thank you! I’m so emotional about people telling me to stay in my job that I cannot think straight.

        1. Parenthetically

          Absolutely. My mother is a now-retired public school teacher who did several years in Special Ed, and I know it’s very much not for the faint of heart.

          I think for the most part what people are really saying is, “You are a good person and your job matters.” I think if you can take it as a compliment and respond accordingly, it’ll short-circuit the ILP/IEP paperwork-related rage spiral. ;)

    2. Julianne (also a teacher)

      If by any chance you work in a state where teachers have recently or are planning to go on strike, hand them a newspaper clipping about that. Actually, there are probably other published things about the particular challenges of being a sped teacher that you could hand them.

      Anyone who wants to tell us to stay in our jobs who hasn’t dealt with our daily nonsense can go jump in a lake. (I say this as someone not looking to leave the profession, but I have come to realize this year that my original intention of spending my whole career as a classroom teacher was overly optimistic.)

      1. Muriel Heslop

        Seriously. It’s not my co-workers telling me to stay. People who have been in the classroom know that it’s not for the faint-hearted!

      2. Millennial Lawyer

        I wouldn’t get into it necessarily with well meaning colleagues/friends trying to pay OP a compliment. (Even though I’d feel like saying, you try it then!!)

        Educators are not paid nearly enough for what they do. I encourage OP and everyone who feels they have to leave to write to their local elected officials.

        1. Julianne

          Oh, definitely not – honestly, other teachers don’t say this sort of thing, though, so my response was based on the assumption that Muriel was talking about non-teachers saying this sort of thing. When another teacher leaves the profession, teachers around that person who stay might think, “Hmm, not the move I would make,” or “Gosh, we’re losing a great person,” or “WOW, wish I could do the same!” or probably many more things, but I think few of us would seriously say “Don’t quit, we need teachers like you!” I mean, we do need them, but even teachers who love their jobs the majority of the time understand that it is an incredibly challenging job and that for some teachers, moving on is truly the right choice.

      3. ABC123

        I am feeling the same way and ready to leave elementary education. The timing is right because my husband’s job is forcing a relocation. I am at a loss as to what my School Principal skill set converts to outside of what I currently do. Any ideas for where to begin a job search and skills I may not realize can be put to work in a different environment?

    3. A Teacher

      I love teaching but the expectations of the profession have become too much.

      That’s what I’d go with and I think most every person in the teaching profession can relate to that.

      Signed,

      A Veteran and Tired Teacher

    4. bookarts

      As the parent of a special needs student, what should I be doing to make your job easier? I don’t relish the idea of handing my child over to someone who thinks “Ugh” of me.

      1. A Teacher

        Its not most parents, probably 1 in 10 but in general (and my daughter has an IEP so I get that angle too). The mentality in education is that we should do more with less in so many ways its disgusting. I teach healthcare, vocational education and dual credit. In one course I threw the books out because they were from 1998 and falling apart. The year I taught sociology, the books were at least 10 years old and dated. I ask kids to have pen and paper and yet will have kids coming in with the expectation that I am to provide the supplies they need all the time. Parents that get upset when I don’t take really late work or when I can’t make their child’s grade go up from a “F” and I’m willing to give more extra credit because it is more work for me when they chose to not do the work in the first place. Parents that don’t believe the teacher–most teachers (yes, some are terrible, hello any profession) do not want to waste the time to write up a kid its yet more paperwork and time. The “well I just needed to get your side of the story” mentality all the time. Lack of respect for my classroom–and its not bad compared to some of the video I saw online–but kids leaving trash or breaking computers, its a real thing. I had 4 laptops that had to be repaired this year because a few kids stuck paperclips in the ethernet ports. Parents were angry because I wouldn’t allow them to use my laptop cart for quite a while.

        On top of parents, its the endless mandates or changes that are detrimental to students. In my district, unless its dual credit (which I teach) we are required to give 40% minimum for a grade. So you can sit and breathe, or heck not come to school and the worst grade I can give is a 40%. Next year they are talking about requiring teachers to give retakes if kids don’t get the grade they want on tests and assignments. They fail to think about how much more time this takes and on why it impacts the child negatively. Most of you can’t have a “retake” of your job and if you don’t turn in a product or do your job, your boss probably has a problem with that. I love my job but some of the things coming about–its just not okay.

        1. Jennifer

          Heck, some student now has Blake Shelton’s textbook from 30+ years ago in an article on Vox.

      2. urban teacher

        I , for the most part, never say “Ugh” about a parent. The few times I have is because a parent is being completely unrealistic about their child. I appreciate the ones who advocate for their child but if your child is in high school and reading at a 2nd grade level, please don’t insist they are going to college and I need to help them.
        Or the opposite, if I suggest that your child can do some chores and attend a program in the community, don’t tell me they are incapable of doing anything.

      3. Jennifer

        It’s probably not you, but there are always Some People out there in any job who like to make people’s lives difficult.

      4. chi type

        “…what should I be doing to make your job easier?”
        Seems like you could ask your child’s teacher that, no?

        1. Thursday Next

          I think it’s worth soliciting feedback here, anonymously, at least as a start. Having several teachers weigh in here could yield some useful information.

        2. bookarts

          I have done so. That means I have gathered one opinion, and that in a non-anonymous setting. The answers my fellow commentators have given me are useful, and I’m grateful for them. Seems a bystander would take in this scene and refrain from joining in with nothing constructive to add.

      5. Totally Minnie

        I was in elementary ed for a while, and I come from a family of teachers, but none in sped.

        In my experience, the main reason a teacher might have an “ugh” reaction toward a parent is typically if that parent’s expectations don’t line up with what the teacher is saying. This is true of grades as well as disciplinary actions. If I tell a parent about an incident of bad behavior and the parent refuses to believe my account, it’s an “ugh” moment. If I tell a parent that their child is behind in a certain area and needs extra intervention and the parent responds with accusations of how I must be a horrible teacher if I can’t keep all my students at grade level, it’s definitely and “ugh” moment.

        In most cases, those moments come from a lack of respect for the teacher as both a person and a professional. If you’re communicating with your child’s teacher in a consistently respectful way, you’re probably not one of the parents that sets of the “ugh” reflex.

    5. Thursday Next

      “I’ll miss teaching, too–I’ve always loved working with children. It’s been a pleasure to see them grow and learn.”

      I think if you could reframe the questions as a compliment, it could be helpful to you. You’re certainly not alone in your frustration with the challenges of teaching in under-resourced schools and dealing with [insert adjective of choice here] parents.

      That said, may I offer you, and all the teachers here–especially special education teachers–my heartfelt appreciation for the work you do? It’s not easy, it’s undercompensated, it’s overbureaucratized, and it’s vitally important. Thank you.

    6. WorkingOnIt

      I guess take it as a compliment – they’re trying to say you’re great at what you do, or that they can’t imagine the place without you. I’d say something in the region of that’s sweet of you to say but it’s no longer the right job for me, depending on the person you can get detailed if they ask further or just repeat it’s no longer the job for me.

    7. Traveling Teacher

      “I’ve decided that this is the best move for me right now; maybe I’ll come back when the timing is right.”

      Variations of the good old “It’s not you; it’s me,” breakup phrase were what I said when I left full-time teaching. I still teach, in a way, with what I do now, and people come to me all the time for teaching advice, but full time classroom teaching was taking a huge toll on my health and personal life. I’m much happier now.

      For the record, I say good for you for knowing that you need to step down from this role.

  33. Job Searching in Jacksonville

    So, I have two trips planned for this summer. As my name implies I am job searching, so I am trying to figure out if/when I need to bring these trips up to my potential employer and I dont anticipate getting PTO to cover the time, just unpaid time off. One of these trips is for the first week of July and the other is a week centered over labor day weekend. When I get a job offer I know i need to bring up any trips I am planning to take, but should I bring up both at the offer stage or should I try to just pick one and focus on only getting the approval for that one? In my dream world I would have a new job by the end of this month but it could be more likely to take another month or two past that, so the July date might not even be an issue and I would only need to bring up the labor day trip. But if I were to get a job offer by the end of the month, what would you suggest? Should I bring up both or just pick one and cancel the other or do something else?

    1. Schnoodle

      Both of these are around holidays, so I’d be careful. The new hire getting the days off around a holiday won’t be your best first impression.

      That said, maybe focus on the most important trip and just ask if it would be okay to go unpaid those days. I have done this at two jobs where I had a european trip planned (family there) and it always went over well. Either I went in the hold on PTO or it was unpaid.

      1. Yorick

        Ask for both times off but think about which one you’d prefer if they don’t seem willing to give both.

    2. Namast'ay in Bed

      Absolutely bring up both at the offer stage. Companies know that people come into new jobs with pre-planned vacation time and are usually pretty reasonable and accommodating about them.

      1. zora

        This. I’ve done it before in a pretty low level job and it was fine.
        After I received the offer, I responded “I have some trips already planned for [dates]. I’m hoping that won’t be a problem.”

        They MIGHT respond that some of them won’t work, so think ahead of time if there is a negotiation which are most important and which you’d be willing to cancel if needed. But it’s very likely it won’t be an issue at all.

  34. baconeggandcheeseplease

    I’ve been searching the archives, and I haven’t really found that much on job searching in a different city aside from Alison’s US News article and a few other random tidbits. Does anyone know of any good posts I might have missed from years ago? I’m moving from NYC to Chi in August, so any/all long distance job searching tips would be helpful!

    I’m mostly worried about navigating interviews from afar (logistics about trying to do video interviews without having to take off a ton of half days, etc) and if employers will be put off by me not being able to start until August when I’m applying now.

      1. baconeggandcheeseplease

        I think I have read those, but I’ll re-read just in case I missed something in the comments. Thanks!

  35. Anonymous Person

    Finally after months of searching I got a call from one of my references with promising information. I never take calls about my job search in my office because the walls are thin and we are required to leave our doors open, but today for the first time I closed my door and took a call in my office; my boss is out of town and I’m so, so tired of finding places to hide and hoping people will be there when I call them back.

    So of course when I opened my office door, there was the boss. I have no idea how much of my side of the conversation he heard.

    Do I play it cool and never mention it? Assume he already knows I’m looking based on all the time I take off for “appointments” that are really interviews?

    I hope I get an offer soon!

    1. Jennifer

      I wouldn’t mention it. Think of some excuse like you are dealing with family drama or medical issue that you need some quiet/privacy to deal with if asked.

      1. Me--Blargh

        I’d just say “I needed a little bit of privacy for this call” and leave it at that.

  36. ??

    I have a performance review coming up. My reviews have generally been excellent, but I was out on FMLA for a while (prior to this review period) and still feel like I’m working at 75% capacity. I may be over-worrying (that has not been reflected in my performance reviews since I returned) but our office is heavily overburdened right now, and I’ve been concerned about whether I’m pulling my weight. Is that a legit thing to ask about? Or does it make me sound unprofessional/over-anxious, given that my reviews haven’t indicated a concern? I’m not sure I could realistically do more than I am right now, either, which also makes me hesitant about raising the question. But perhaps there is something I could work towards as I get healthier over time.

    1. Science!

      I had my performance review in February, for my 2017 year – which involved 4 weeks of medical bedrest then 8 weeks of maternity leave, then a month after I came back my dad passed away and I had to leave to manage the funeral.

      I was honest and upfront that I struggled coming back from all that and recognized that my productivity was lower than I had hoped, but then I entered into what I hoped to accomplish this coming year and what my goals were. I think it worked well for me, though I’ll admit I didn’t look at how he rated me because I’d already decided to apply to an internal position (which I was also upfront about and my boss though would be a better fit for me as well).

    2. Bea

      They will most likely tread lightly and unless something has really dropped drastically accept that being on FLMA leave means that you’re going to need time to reacclimate to returning! Unless they’re scummy without any empathy and humanity.

      I would let them know it’s on your radar and you’re working on getting back into the groove. I am candid and open with my bosses and it’s never bit me except once and that guy was indeed scum.

    3. Bend & Snap

      This has been me since September due to illness.

      Not only did I get a glowing performance review, my boss praised me in the review for the handoff of work, effective expectation setting when I was out or could not be very responsive, and otherwise didn’t mention the issues at all.

      So I wouldn’t worry too, too much. You are protected and it sounds like you’ve been communicating about what you can and can’t handle.

  37. all aboard the anon train

    Has anyone left a relatively stable corporate job for a startup?

    I’m in a final round of a startup interview. It’s one that’s run and founded by women so there’s no huge sense of bro culture, but they’re in the seeking funding stage and rolling out their first batch of product (they’re e-commerce), and I’m nervous about the company going under within a few months if they don’t raise more revenue or if they lose all their original backers (they funded the first time through crowdfunding).

    I have a corporate job that pays ok (the startup is a $30K raise) and I can come and go as I please and work from home whenever I want, but I’m so bored and there’s no room for growth or promotion. I know startups are a big risk, but does anyone have any insight on moving from corporate to startups? Pros/cons? Why you did it/regretted it?

    1. Irene Adler

      Pros: get to be in on the ground floor. Exciting!

      Will advance quickly as the start-up grows. So you’ll be “in charge” of the dept. So you can have a big voice in whomever gets hired in your dept (and maybe other depts. too!). Might ask about who funds any add’l education you might need to fully handle new job positions/tasks you are promoted into. You’ll end up doing and learning a lot about other positions and job tasks. Job roles less rigidly defined. Get to be a part of establishing company culture. So ask about things like work from home or flex time or bringing dog to work days or Thursday happy hours. Start-ups tend to be looser regarding these things.

      Cons: no regular salary increases (so procure as high a salary up front that you can)-regardless of what they tell you up front. When money is tight everything is on the table. Might go years w/o any change to salary (yep, not even cost of living). Might be promoted w/o any change in pay. Benefits might be few or terminated down the line due to cost-cutting. You might have to pay for a portion of what benefits you do enjoy.
      Yeah, possible layoffs. Funds get tight at times so even stationery supplies can get scarce. Money/funding is always a topic folks talk about. Always.
      Job role less rigidly defined- my boss is VP of R&D and Quality And he’s our IT guy.

      1. Dzhymm

        Advancing as the company grows is not guaranteed. Most startups do not grow organically into large operations; they either quietly fizzle out or are acquired by larger entities. This means that if you start as the teapot painter for StartupCo, it’s much more likely that you’ll be Teapot Decorator Third Class when StartupCo is bought by MegaCorp than it is for you to become VP of Hot Beverage Containers when StartupCO IPOs.

        As for salary… not only are salary *increases* not guaranteed… salary isn’t either. When money gets tight be prepared for payless paydays along with a litany of promises and excuses to string you along and keep you working.

        1. Optimistic Prime

          My MegaCorp has bought a couple of StartupCo.s in the time since I’ve been here and I’ve seen it go both ways. Often the people who got in on the ground floor stick around and have high-level positions in the new division; sometimes they don’t. You’ll almost always have less autonomy though, regardless of the title and pay.

      2. all aboard the anon train

        They’re in a wework office right now (the company is based on the west coast and they’re opening an east coast office for the tech/PM team).

        I think I would be okay without a change in salary for a few years since the $30K raise from my current salary finally puts me in the position where half my month’s pay covers all my bills/utilities.

        My concern is that they said they have an angel investor and a product runway of a few quarters, but they’re spending the next year focusing on refining the product rather than generating revenue streams. They rolled out their product too quickly and the crowdfunding customers are complaining that is has some issues. I kept pushing about stability and funding, and they said they couldn’t promise anything beyond 12 months.

        I know even corporate jobs aren’t guaranteed, but I think jumping to a startup is riskier because at least my very large corporate company (as past situations have shown) would still take forever to cut out any business units or jobs that need to be eliminated.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.

      Since start-ups can be so risky, if it were me, I’d take that $30,000 raise and treat it as if I’d never seen it. I’d toss it directly into savings/retirement and not alter my lifestyle.

    3. Bea

      I’m pro start ups and adventures.

      My cautions are your stability, can you afford to have them fold and be unemployed for awhile? Are they paying you via payroll or trying to pull a contractors scam? How well do you get along with the founders and do you know much of them at all? It’s an intimate setting, how do they manage and flex power?

      If you’re comfortable with some uncertainty and not pay check to pay check, the adventure is worth it. You can go back to the corporate world one day. You usually aren’t suddenly at a disadvantage for trying a job out and not having it turn into your life long endeavor.

      The folks here are conservative about start ups but I’m a liberal PNW business enthusiast. So dig down deep and follow your heart.

      1. Optimistic Prime

        I live in the PNW as well and I’ve seen people jump from corporate to startup to corporate so often I’m like hey, why not?! I would’ve never thought that before moving out here.

    4. Jady

      My husband left a steady job he disliked for a startup that did end up going under after about a year.

      Pros were good pay, decent benefits, lots of flexibility, the ‘bro-‘ culture which he enjoyed, being able to get his feed wet in multiple different job responsibilities, overall less scrutiny and formal processes and red tape. And although the job didn’t last, he believed that since he was one of the first handful of employees (and getting a ton of positive feedback and experience) , it put him in a prime position to be promoted rapidly as they grew.

      The down side was, of course, the risk factor. They did go under, after all. However, I will note that for us – it wasn’t a significant concern because we were financially stable even if he lost the job.

      He loved it and would do it again.

      On the flip side, some of the pros for him could be cons for other people. There can be an expectation of longer hours and passion for the job. You’re expected to do things outside of your typical job, you may be doing the work of 2 or more people. You may be doing a lot of work that you do not enjoy. If finances are stressed, it may create a lot of anxiety about the company going under.

      Also if they are under 50 employees (I think that’s the number?), a lot of laws don’t apply to them (US). I think FMLA is one of them.

      You definitely need to have a Plan B for if the job goes under. Personally I wouldn’t advise it if your finances are strained significantly.

      1. Bea

        50 employees is for FLMA. But 1 employee falls under OSHA and 5 employees for Fair Wage, 20 for Age Discrimination. The numbers vary drastically, 50 isn’t the magic number for employment laws :)

      2. all aboard the anon train

        The risk factor is my biggest issue because it’s just me in my household. I have some medical issues I know I’ll need to pay for in the future and while the $30K salary raise would help me pay for them, losing a job would leave me in a big bind.

        I think what you said about finances causing the anxiety is where I’m hung up. I do think the product has potential and I like the company and that the executive board and founders are really diverse (so many different types of women). My finances aren’t strained and I can pay my rent and bills and chip away at debt, but I think I’m always going to worry about money. The anxiety that comes from remembering what it’s like to live and grow up without much money.

        I honestly just don’t know what that Plan B would look like tbh.

        1. Product person

          I left corporate jobs for startups, and was the victim of a layoff or jumped ship as soon as I saw early signs (luckily finding another job right before all my former colleagues were laid off).

          It can be a fascinating experience, but without a spouse with healthcare coverage, I’d strongly recommend staying or looking for another job at a company that is past product-market fit. The statistics of startup survival as dismal, and in your situation I wouldn’t risk it.

          1. all aboard the anon train

            I mean, I’d have healthcare coverage at the startup, and if I ever got laid off from my corporate job, I’d be in the same bind in terms of no healthcare. It’s more the money to cover anything that might crop up health wise if I lose a job, but I know that’s an issue I face regardless of the type of company it is. I’m never going to have a spouse with healthcare coverage, so.

    5. Anon Passenger on the Anon Train

      I did! And I lost that job in less than a year when it went belly up and I have no regrets. I was working for a big player in e-commerce and had just lost all enthusiasm for the job. I was coasting after returning from a long vacation and I didn’t know how to get back into things when I heard from a former co-worker about the start-up. Part of it was great. I got to learn a shiny new technology working with people I admired and for a company that had a better mission than my e-com job. Unfortunately, the company was trying to do too many things at once and they didn’t get second round funding and became the local poster child for dot com excess goes bust. They might have succeeded if they had cut the business down to one core focus, but the founders had that go big or go home mentality and so we all went home…and learned they hadn’t paid the health insurance, taxes or 401K allocations. They eventually did, but it was very messy.

      I’m concerned about that 30k change in salary. If you’re going to be a contractor, you’re not getting a raise, you’re paying for your own benefits. Can you afford a short-term position on your record or will it look like more job hopping? And you really need a plan B. I was married when I joined my start-up. And I’ve worked for a variety of start-ups and small businesses for most of my career. It’s given me interesting work and a good variety of skills but it hasn’t been as financially rewarding.

      All start-ups have dreamers, but they also need do-ers. Are there enough do-ers in your start-up and how do you feel about being one? It’s a higher level of commitment to a job when you’re making a dream happen. I like that they’re focusing on improving the product, but how do they think that will bring them new customers? And what’s their long-term goal? Do they want to run the business or sell it and when?

      If you take the job, keep an eye out for changes. If little perks, like newspapers in the break room start disappearing, start looking. Same for if they start paying bills later. Check your 401K regularly to make sure your account is up-to-date. Keep enough in your checking account to act as a buffer against bounced paychecks. (Better yet, direct deposit into savings and transfer just enough into checking to pay your bills…it’s a great way to build savings fast.) Keep a good eye on your expense reimbursements and get an advance for any trips that will require a lot of money out of pocket. Some of my co-workers lost thousands in unpaid reimbursements. I’m not saying don’t do it…just look hard before you leap. But it could be that this start-up would better serve you as encouragement to find a different job that is both rewarding and stable.

      1. all aboard the anon train

        I’m wouldn’t be a contractor. It’s a $30K raise as a full-time salaried employee with healthcare and a 401K, so that $30K does make a big difference. I’ve been at my other roles for 3 – 5 years each, so a short stay won’t really look bad on my resume. The office is a co-working space or remote three to four days a week.

        I guess I just really don’t know what a plan B would look like. I’ve never had one for any job aside from funneling away money in a savings account in case I get laid off.

        I think my pros are the higher salary and the chance to get more e-commerce experience which is way more valuable than anything I have now. Unfortunately, most of the more stable corporate jobs are looking for the type of experience I can’t get at my current company, but a startup offers.

        1. Peggy

          How in-demand are your skills? If you’re laid off or your startup goes under, are there other jobs in your area that you’re qualified for?

          Losing a start-up job isn’t the end of the world, if the jobs in your field aren’t scarce where you live. You can spin the story: “I was ready for a change and took an amazing opportunity at XYZ, which was a crash course in A, B, and C and allowed for some incredible personal and professional growth. While ultimately the company (if it folded) or role (if you got laid off) didn’t have staying power, I don’t regret a thing because I was able to do D, E, and F during my time there. I gained some very valuable experience and skills, and now I’m seeking this role which is a good fit for [reasons].”

          I recommend negotiating severance as part of your package before accepting an offer. If laid off within one year, maybe 1-2 months of pay and benefits. Not sure what the norm is for your industry but it’s something you can ask for and is pretty normal for a startup negotiation.

          I think the extra pay and experience are worth the risk, as long as a layoff wouldn’t leave you jobless for a long period of time due to a lack of relevant jobs in your area. Pay down your debt but don’t throw every penny at it – build yourself an emergency fund so you can pay for 6 months of living expenses if you’re out of a job.

          Good luck!

  38. Social anxiety at work

    Hey ya’ll! I’m struggling with low-key social anxiety & imposter syndrome at work. I’m a mid-career professional, and have been able to keep a handle on it thus far but I’ve been asked to take on more of a leadership role (which involves leading meetings with higher-level team leadership, forming strategy and aligning teams on responsibilities). It’s stressing me out!

    I know that I can do these things (and do them well), but every time I have an upcoming meeting that I need to lead or presentation I need to give (even to small groups of 2-3) I shut down and find it hard to get any other work done the week before because I’m constantly worrying about it. How can I get over this? Help!!

    1. Parenthetically

      Things that help me:

      Decide when you’re “done” preparing — either when you feel 85% prepared, or when you can check off Tangible Markers of Preparedness A, B, and C (I’ve gone over the presentation twice, my notes and materials are all in a file, I’ve booked the conference room, and I’ve taken five really slow, deep breaths, or whatever is relevant to you).

      Actively seek feedback — choose a couple of trusted coworkers and ask them in advance of the meeting/presentation to be on the lookout for things you could do better and things they feel like you’ve got down. Ask them to shoot you a bullet point email afterwards.

      Force yourself to reflect on things that went well in every meeting or presentation. Sit down and write it out. “Meeting room was booked correctly. Didn’t have spinach in teeth or zipper down. Spoke clearly. Communicated the goals of the meeting. Survived entire meeting with no deer-in-headlights looks from coworkers.” Etc.

      Don’t just ask “what if,” ANSWER “what if.” “What if I bomb the presentation and nobody understands anything?” “Well, that’s not likely because I’ve prepared X, Y, and Z and I’ve done it a few times before, but it’ll be ok because I’ll follow up with the attendees and clarify.”

      Basically, anything that allows you to get outside perspective and be a little more objective about your performance is GOOD. Impostor Syndrome is emotional, not factual, so I find if I can use it as a tool to force myself to seek and acknowledge facts, it really lessens my emotional entanglement with “success.”

    2. einahpets

      I can definitely relate! I’m also mid-career and just started a new / slightly higher title role with bigger responsibilities. I am good at the technical stuff in my field, but this job is much more project management than I’ve done and sometimes I definitely get myself in a worry-loop that I am going to be found out for the imposter I think I am.

      What has worked for me in the last few years is finding a few contacts/informal mentors that are a bit further along in their career. They’ve been great at giving me the confidence boost when I am not sure I can do it or have a situation that is giving me a lot of anxiety.

      On starting those relationships — it was so so hard the first time to send the first email or text to each person, especially with my own social anxiety that has me convinced that everyone would just be annoyed/uninterested, but it hasn’t really worked out that way yet. If anything, now some of the contacts have even started messaging me with their own questions about ‘what would you do here?’ which gave me a bit of a boost of confidence to realize that others see my experience and opinions as valid.

      1. Social anxiety at work

        This is really helpful (and knowing that other successful folks also struggle with similar things is comforting, in a way). Thank you so much!

    3. AnotherLibrarian

      If you’re not seeing a therapist about this, you may want too. Mine has been incredibly helpful.

      Beyond that I think Parenthetically had some great tips. One of the things I do is make a massive check list of all the things I need to do to prepare, including time for review. When I have completed the checklist, I am done.

      1. Social anxiety at work

        Yeah… I’ve always told myself that it’s not “bad enough” for me to see a therapist but I’ve definitely just been pushing the problem aside and ignoring it :/

        It’s good to hear that you’ve found therapy helpful. I think I’m ready to bite the bullet and try it out… I’m so tired of feeling this way.

      2. Social anxiety at work

        Yeah… I’ve always told myself that I don’t have it “bad enough” to warrant therapy, but I’ve definitely just been pushing the problem aside and ignoring it.

        I’m glad to hear that you’ve found therapy to be helpful. I think I’m ready to bite the bullet and try it out… I’m so tired of feeling this way :/

        1. AnotherLibrarian

          It took a lot of phone calls until I found mine, but she has genuinely helped me transform my own social anxiety. It has been so helpful.

        2. AnonJ

          You might also consider a professional business coach type of person. My company engaged one for our newly formed leadership team and while I was initially suspicious, she turned out to be incredibly effective in helping us both individually and as a team. As a team we’ve worked on how we run our meetings, brainstorm/work through issues, make decisions, and present information and ideas. On an individual level she’s helped me with how I prepare for and lead meetings, present my ideas in an effective and confident manner, solicit and receive feedback, and truly be a leader who is aware and engaged with what is going on around me. Having worked with her for over a year now on the company’s dime, I could definitely see myself personally engaging with someone like her if my company wasn’t willing to do it. I went all in with utilizing her as a resource once I got over my initial skepticism, and I’ve got so much out of it and improved my leadership skills so much I just got promoted from Operations Manager to VP of Operations!

  39. KR

    Dear Commute OP in LA from earlier this week,
    I heard the traffic report on NPR today about how backed up LA is rn. I’m sorry and hope you make it to work soon.

  40. JJJJShabado

    Background: There was a User Group for the Software I work with in my area in the past. My supervisor had a big hand in it, but over time it stopped meeting/doing things. Someone is starting it back up again and sent an e-mail to my supervisor to ask if she was interested. She past it around to our department and I expressed interest. I had an e-mail exchange with the organizer and he seems to think that I have more interest in it than I actually do (organizing, being an officer, etc). I’m backing out of this because I don’t have much more interest than correspondence/occasional meetings.

    My question is that as part of our correspondence, he asked if I had any contacts. I replied no, but there was a day at a local college where there were presentations about the software and gave him the name of the professor. He wants me to contact the professor (I think I’m going to push that back to the organizer, since I never spoke with the professor). Can I suggest that he ask the professor to pass along about the User Group to the people who attended the presentation if there some kind of mailing list? Judging by me (since I’d presumably get that e-mail), I would not be annoyed if I got an e-mail about the User Group.

    1. Forking Great Username

      For privacy reasons, I would be very surprised if they’ll give you names and contact info of the people who attended the event.

    2. valentine

      This person seems so pushy, why not stop doing their admin/sales and return to the participant side?

  41. Moonlight Doughnut

    Calling fellow archivists!: One of the jobs that I’m applying for has a (required) open-ended question that states: “Please share an online location where we can see one or more finding aids that you prepared.” However all of the archives I’ve worked with have been internal-use-only or else super-small, and none of them have my finding aids published online. Help!: Should I write that none of my finding aid are published on the internet and offer to send some via email OR use a dropbox/googledocs link (which seems like it would look weird/unofficial).

    Also–has expecting this become standard in our field? If so it seems to greatly disadvantage archivists who work with small (non-tech-savvy) archives and those who work with restricted or otherwise non-public collections…

    1. GigglyPuff

      I think you’d be fine with explaining, maybe in the bottom of the cover letter and the email (if you are emailing your application in), and if you’re able attach a PDF of one of the finding aids you’ve done.

      1. Moonlight Doughnut

        Unfortunately, it’s one of those annoying online forms that doesn’t allow for any attachments. :( Otherwise, that would have been ideal.

        1. I think this is the job I'm hiring for

          I think that there is an opportunity for attachments, possibly only one, somewhere in the application form. If you want to attach multiple documents, just save them all as a single PDF.

    2. LostInTheStacks

      That answer sounds good! It’s a perfectly reasonable explanation, and I think either “here’s a dropbox link” or “I can follow up via email, let me know which method you prefer” would work. For what it’s worth, I’ve been job searching a lot recently and have never seen that question come up, so I don’t think it’s a new standard.

    3. cwethan

      I think it has become standard, but I also wouldn’t bat an eye if a candidate said “mine aren’t accessible online due to technology restraints at the institutions I produced them for, but I could email you a PDF.”

      1. cwethan

        ETA: I mean standard for finding aids to be accessible online. I’ve never been asked to provide one for a job or asked for one while hiring.

        1. Moonlight Doughnut

          Thanks! Definitely asking about online finding aids in the hiring process specifically!

    4. I think this is the job I'm hiring for

      Write a note in the box that your finding aids have been internal-use-only and say that you will bring a hard copy to the interview.

      1. I think this is the job I'm hiring for

        Yes, this is definitely the job I’m hiring for. There are two reasons for the question: 1. to see if the applicant can follow directions (i.e., didn’t just cut and paste from their resume) and 2. to get a sense of the applicant’s experience with finding aids, because this is an area we’re trying to improve in. Failure to follow directions is disqualifying in my mind; if you don’t have a URL to share but explain why, I’ll just want to talk to you more when we meet.

        PLEASE apply and don’t be discouraged by the question. Government HR processes are annoyingly bureaucratic for both the employer and the applicant!

        1. Moonlight Doughnut

          What a small world! Thanks so much for your insight and encouragement! I’m definitely still going to apply as it sounds like a great position and in line with my experience. It’s my first time applying through this particular online gov system, so I’m definitely a little nervous about making sure all the correct information ends up in the right place.

      2. I think this is the job I'm hiring for

        AND! Don’t worry about the fact that I’ve seen you asking this question here. If anything, I’ll give you props for reading AAM :-) You might need to change your username if I hire you and you want to complain about work, but that’s why I’m not using my regular username for these comments :-)

            1. I am Moana

              You know we’re going to need an update after the interview, right? ☺️ It’s the meet cute of AAM.

          1. Not So NewReader

            This is really great for the both of you.
            You both read AAM so now you know something about each other’s commitment to professionalism.

    5. bb-great

      I would just give a quick explanation and use dropbox or google docs so they have what they need without taking an extra step.

      I haven’t seen this elsewhere, but I don’t think it’s particularly unusual for jobs in general to ask for work samples. I do agree that working for a “non-tech-savvy” archives can hurt you in that it limits what skills you can develop on the job. But it’s also pretty reasonable that if you’re hiring for a role that requires knowing how to use EAD, you hire someone who can do that, you know?

  42. TempToHire Desire

    What’s the best way to move from “temp” to “employee”? I’m in my first week of a new temp position, and I’ve decided I really like the company and would enjoy full-time employment here. This temp position has an end date three months from now. My team of 25 people are mostly students happy to have a good paying job in between semesters. The team will be disband (laid off) no later than June 30. Knowing that, I’d like to position myself and prove myself so I may seek and achieve full-time employment. Do I need to wait until the end date is here? How do I approach this desire with my (temporary) manager? And what’s the best way to prove myself (since this temp position feels quite different from an actual employment position)? Thanks for all the feedback!

    1. Jennifer

      Do a good job. Keep an eye out for job openings. Ask if anyone there would be a reference towards the end of the job.

      It’s really going to depend on whether or not an open position is available and if you get along with everyone. I’ve gotten lucky because I was there when someone left, which seems to usually be how it works.

    2. The Original K.

      Definitely don’t wait until the end date is there. Do good work and look for openings, and let your manager know that you’d be interested in something permanent. Also, I would caution you against stopping your job search if what you’re after is a full-time position, even if you really like the company where you are. It sounds like things are kind of shaky (“no later than June 30” sounds to me like the team could disband sooner than that) and like the position you are in is a straight temp situation rather than a temp to hire, so odds are good that you’ll have to go through the hiring process for a different position at the current company. It’s good to have options.

      If there isn’t an opportunity to stay, get a reference from your manager.

    3. zora

      You can mention this to your manager at any time! You don’t have to wait for the end date.

      If you have a regular check-in with your manager, that is a good time, or whenever you get a minute in passing. “By the way, I really am loving working here, and I would be very interested in a permanent position if there are any available.” You can also ask her “Is there anything I can do to best position myself for an opportunity here?”

      Also, make sure you are really killing it. Do everything the best you can, make sure everyone knows that you are happy to help. And let your boss know that you are happy to take on any additional tasks that she needs (if you have time). You could even keep an eye out for ways to take initiative that your boss might not have thought to ask about, and then offer those things. Don’t do things without asking, but pointing out something you think you could improve on and about how long you think it would take, can be a huge help to a manager.

    4. Bea

      The others will start dropping off soon. Do well. Make good internal connections first. Then a couple months in start asking about openings or opportunities to come on permanent.

      I was the last one standing in a group of 10 years ago. They saw my potential just from my showing up and doing the job, the others would flake off or show less desirable behaviours to be trimmed out in multiple ways.

      You need to give it time. A week in, coming off as over eager to stay may be endearing but also they’re like “i dont know you or if you will continue to do a good job…so…” Ease into it.

    5. WorkingOnIt

      I think do a good job but also be blatant – they’re not going to know you enjoy the job and you’d be interested in staying on if they have permanent jobs unless you tell them. So maybe be there at least a month have a good attitude, do well and then speak to your manager directly say you’re really enjoying working here, you particularly like the company and was wondering if there were opportunities to either extend the temporary contract or join the permanent team. Keep an eye on available vacancies there as well and apply if relevant – or even have questions to the manager about it – you’d seen this great vacancy do they have any recommendations or think that your skills meet the job, you can use this as an opener as well to say you really enjoying working in this team but can’t see any open vacancies at the moment (if true) is this something they’ll likely to have in the future, you’d love to stay on. The squeakiest wheel gets the grease so even if it might not come naturally to you you need to be blatant about your interest early and not just rely on doing a good job and being a great coworker for them to think about asking you to stay. If you start too early before you’ve proved you’re any good/or got a grasp for the role/company then I don’t think it would come off well, but don’t leave it too late.

    6. Thlayli

      Definitely let your manager know you’d be interested in any full-time position, and make sure you do the best job possible.

      But it really does depend on whether there is any openings. If there’s no permanent job, there’s no permanent job.

      1. zora

        But if there isn’t a position when your temp job is up, keep in touch with your manager! I’ve had more than one situation where I did a short term temp gig and they liked me so much, that when they had a temp-to-perm spot open months later my former manager asked for me specifically. Keep it light and networky: maybe send an email every couple of months asking how things are going and giving an update on your life. Having the insider view of a company is huge, so make sure you stay connected, you might still get a job there in the future!

    7. WillowSunstar

      The way I did it, I did a good job and impressed the right manager. Also, it was partly luck, because the opening had been offered to someone else and she turned it down. Since I’d already been temping for a long period of time, I jumped at it.

  43. Anon here hi

    At my work, they are very social and extroverted. I’m more introverted and have a mean resting face, which I can’t help. It doesn’t mean I’m upset, I just look it. I’m newer, which doesn’t help either. People seem to avoid me- I have to force myself to smile because one woman looked like she wanted to jump in the trash bin just to get away from me. I’ve heard them talking about me too. I feel sad and angry because others don’t smile yet it’s okay for them. Why the double standard?

    Has anyone here ever experienced that? What do you do?

      1. Ainomiaka

        This is good. Pick some specific social things that you are okay with doing and make an effort to do them more. You don’t have to be everything all the time, but doing some social niceties on your own terms helps dispel the “never talks” illusion.

    1. Jennifer

      I hate to say it, but smile, smile, smile. People get hostile to “resting face” so bad these days. Some things are okay for others that will not be okay for you, especially if you already have a bad reputation and it sounds like you do. You may have to be overly perky and friendly and happy to compensate.

    2. Millennial Lawyer

      Being introverted isn’t an excuse to not be cordial with your colleagues – it sounds like they are getting an impression that’s way more off putting that just being introverted. Say hello/good morning when you see people in the halls. Actually smile when you do this. It shouldn’t feel forced to merely be cordial. Has nothing to do with your face when its resting.

    3. AnotherJill

      A good strategy ion this situation is to once in a while ask someone a question or two about themselves. Even just a “hi, do anything interesting this weekend?” on Monday. For most people. if you show a little casual interest, you’ll successfully navigate the extrovert/introvert gap.

      1. mediumofballpoint

        This is a good strategy. And compliments are great quick conversation starters. I like your scarf –> where’d you get it –> looks great –> awesome, social interaction checked off for the day!

    4. pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      Bribery. Any chance you could bring in bagels, coffee, or have a candy dish. If you can stand a bit of self-depreciating humor maybe put up a sign or send out an email that you realize that you have a terminal case of RBF but you really don’t bite and and to prove your not going to eat them, you’ve brought a treat to share. Then continue on not smiling because an insincere or forced smile is way creepier than RBF in my experience.

      1. LKW

        THIS. Bring in donuts. Put a big note on it that it’s from you so that everyone has a nice day.

    5. Aunt Betty

      I have RBF, too and I get amazing results when I consciously put a pleasant look on my face. That’s something that is entirely in your control and easy to do with a little effort.

      Also, make general chitchat in the break room or ask your coworker’s opinions on things related to the job. People love to give advice! You need to look for ways to provide social lubrication to leave people with a positive impression of you.

    6. WorkingOnIt

      I read in this book – How to be yourself – (which is about social anxiety) that if people are shy/anxious in social situations they should give themselves a ‘role’ to be able to sort of interact with people better. For instance I don’t know you could give yourself the ‘role’ of making coffee for people (not all day – but like once a day) it’ll come across as friendly, takes minimal interaction and you can build on it everyday or maybe someone will come along to help you, similarly you can say I’m picking up lunch/coffee does anyone need anything picked up/want to come along. You might build a rapport that way. Or maybe there are particular papers that need taking to HR regularly and you offer to take them for people…. It can be something small that will build up a general rapport –
      If someone looks off at your face again – just be like sorry this is what I look like when I’m concentrating!

    7. Thlayli

      You can exercise your facial muscles to make your resting face more pleasant, if that’s something you would Be interested in. If you want me to post more info let me know – I won’t unless you actually are interested.

      Otherwise, as others have said, be pleasant and cordial. Even if you don’t like people it’s rude to just plain ignore them. Manners cost nothing.

    8. Former Retail Manager

      I do experience that…fellow RBF sufferer here. Botox and fillers are on the horizon…..seriously. I don’t think mine is as bad as yours, but people who don’t know me often assume I am upset/angry if I have no expression because that’s just my face.

      But seriously, the suggestions of others are great. Bring donuts or cupcakes, make an effort to say hello in a cheerful voice to as many people as you can, and just casually chat for a bit when you can with as many people as you can. Since you’re new and opposite of most of your co-workers, sounds like they’re forming their opinion of you based on what they’ve seen and experienced thus far, so if you don’t want that impression to stick, do as much as you can to change it as quickly as you can. I have personally even made jokes about RBF to some people who then laughed with me and admitted that they didn’t speak to me before because they thought I was mad or intently concentrating. Nope…..just these darn depressor anguli oris muscles.

  44. Lady in New York

    I have to give my boss my 2 weeks notice today. I was offered a position at a company I used to work for (same job actually and coolest boss!). Current boss will pitch a fit and be so upset.

    Any tips on staying stern and strong when I resign? He is very needy and dependent on me. He will ask so many questions and combat my questions. He will ask for more than 2 weeks and I don’t want to stay more than 2 weeks, it’s a weird time period and not necessary for my position. He will be very against my resignation and be vocal about it (not in an abusive way, I hope, just in a “trying to change my mind” and “no you can’t do this to me” type of way). Resignations are awkward without someone making them more awkward and I would just rather he ask the normal questions and accept it as is but that isn’t how it’s going to be.

    1. CBE

      “My decision is made, my last day is X. What should I focus on in the meantime?”
      “It’s not up for debate. How ’bout those (Sports team)?”
      “My reasons are my own. I’m not putting them up for debate. Did you want me to write up some info for my replacement?”

      Etc. Etc. Repeat as necessary. You don’t have to answer his questions or engage in debate or negotiation.

    2. CatCat

      Give as little information as possible. If he asks for more than 2 weeks, no matter how many times he asks, “No, I can’t, sorry!” Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

      Give limited, vague answers to questions. If they get too personal, “Oh, that’s too personal for me to share.” If he gets super annoying about it, “My decision is not up for debate. Now here’s what I was thinking I should do to transition X work task. Does that sound like a good plan for X?”

      Just become a broken record on refusing to answer detailed questions, extend time, or debate (and change the subject on debate). You can also call out. “You keep prying repeating the same questions when I’ve given my answers.Please stop prying and debating me about it.”

    3. Jadelyn

      Be a broken record. Don’t let him suck you into conversations about why you’re leaving – decide on a really bland answer that can’t be argued with for “why”, like “It’s just time for me to move on.” and repeat ad nauseum.

      1. Lady in New York

        Excellent idea! I like the no ability to come back with more questions route. Thank you! :)

    4. Bea

      You can do it! Bite the bullet and get it done. 2 weeks of his insufferable brattiness is the last you’ll deal with until you dance right into your new job!

    5. DDJ

      You’ve already accepted a position elsewhere. “I’ve accepted a position elsewhere, this is my official notice of two weeks, at which time I will be leaving.” Put it in writing as well, sign it, and give it to him. If you have an HR department, submit a copy to HR as well, indicating that you’ve also given a copy to your boss.

      He can rant all he wants, it’s not going to change your position. Even if your job doesn’t start in two weeks, I agree with “That’s not going to be possible.” I’d leave out the “sorry” because it will make him think he might have more wiggle room than he does. And repeat. “You need to stay on a little while longer!” That’s not going to be possible. “Just an extra two weeks! An even month. It’s not that much to ask.” That’s not going to be possible.

      Figure out what kind of argument or request he could come back with that would be the hardest for you to handle, and just mentally prepare for it. Worst case scenario. Tugging at your heartstrings. Getting personal with it. What’s the lowest, most guilt-tripping thing he could say to you? Get ready for it, just in case.

      As you say, resignations are awkward. I think even accepting that you have a good idea of how this is going to go down is a great mindset to have. “Boss is going to make this awkward. It’s only two weeks. I can handle this for two weeks.”

      1. Lady in New York

        Awesome ideas and suggestions!! Thank you! It’ll be prob the most awkward resignation I’ve given since his personality is so “interesting.” Wommmmp. lol. Ready to get it done with :)

        1. Bea

          Type up a letter and say “this is my 2 weeks, my last day will be April X!” and turn to leave. It’s what I did. All you owe them is the 2 week notice not to listen to the crying afterwards!

          Then you can circle back later to ask how you should proceed with your leaving. What procedure documents he’ll want etc. Take control of the big baby:)

    6. valentine

      I hope this went well. If you ended up offering more than you wanted, you can still go back to your original plan. Try platitudes. Him: But whyyy are you leaving meee?! You: That’s just the way the cookie crumbled.

    7. TootsNYC

      Be amused.

      I mean, how silly is it, to badger someone who has given their resignation?

      So resign, and then if he starts in, just think, “there he goes again! what a doofus,” and say with a smile, “Boss, I gave notice. You know what that means, right? I’m leaving.”

  45. GigglyPuff

    Job searching rant: I didn’t get the job out of state, except I was really hopeful because the day after my in person interview, they contacted my references and asked them for letters of recommendation! Which was a really positive sign, except it seems like that might be policy. I felt so bad for my references, even my manager wondered why they asked for letters after learning I didn’t get the job.

    So went out and applied for another one that’s been posted for several months, few days later immediately got an email to do a first interview. Turns out they want to do, not a phone interview, but wants to do a “skype” (different software). Why????

    1. fposte

      A Skype interview is so much better than a phone interview, though. The flow is easier because you can see somebody on the other end. They’re also pretty common, so I think it’s tough to avoid them entirely.

      1. GigglyPuff

        Yeah, I mean luckily not too super standard for my industry it seems, but it’s my first, though I did have to do one of those horrible automated video interviews, so after doing that, this should be fine.
        I’m more annoyed at myself that I didn’t really just ask for the phone interview (they indicated they’d be fine with one if there were tech problems), super non-confrontational, since now I have to take time off from work (when I don’t really have the time), whereas before I would’ve just shut myself in my office and counted it as lunch. Plus my laptop is 12+ years old, so the quality of everything is super shotty.

        1. Jadelyn

          If you’ve got a good phone or tablet, you can use the skype app instead of on your old laptop. Just make sure you’ve got your account set up and logged in and test your connection with a friend or something before it’s time to go.

      2. T3k

        Ugh, Skype. I had my first Skype interview last month, did not like. I’m not a fan of the tool anyways (I prefer Discord) but it was made even worse as, some reason, it initially didn’t want to pick up the call, no matter how many times I clicked “answer” then, when I got that fixed, didn’t show my video to the interviewer initially. Thankfully when it comes to computer issues I’m pretty savvy at troubleshooting and had it fixed in a couple minutes but jeez, not fun.

        1. Bend & Snap

          We have Skype at work (they took away Webex and gave us Skype and it BLOWS), but consumer skype is pretty good. I did a few video Skype interviews for the job I just got and it definitely helped to make a connection with the interviewers.

          1. Peggy

            Skype for Business is hands down the worst product OF ANY KIND I’ve ever been forced to use in my 15 year career. It works approximately 20% of the time and when it does work, it’s not even a good product. I detest it.

    2. HRH The Duke of Coriander and Gomasio

      I also didn’t get the out of state job after 3 interviews. Good luck with the interview!

    3. Creag an Tuire

      So hold on, they contacted the references and asked for letters, and then you found out you didn’t get the job?

      Hate to ask this, but how certain are you that one of your references didn’t torpedo you?

      1. GigglyPuff

        I’m relatively sure none of them did. I’ve used one of them for multiple jobs I’ve gotten, probably the flakiest of the bunch, and my last manager was great and really supportive, and my current manager let me read the letter before they sent it (which I’ll admit it was a little more heavy on stuff I’ve done than actually about me, but it was fine).

        From the wording in one of their emails, the way they phrased it, I’m really leaning heavily towards they asked for letters for all the people that did the final round.

        1. Creag an Tuire

          Fair enough, then. I agree, that’s a really obnoxious process — not just calling references, but asking for letters? That’s a lot of work to put them through for a meaningless hoop.

          (Then again, I’ve never heard of asking references for letters in the final-hiring stage at all — the only time I’ve needed them is for an application into an internship program. Is this something specific to your industry?)

        2. Yorick

          They may be great references, but the company may have needed that extra information to make a decision.

    4. Bea

      We ask for references and letters of rec for the very last stage. If it’s down to two or three, you’re still very close but the other person edged you out.

    5. Sam.

      I had a first-round skype interview just last week! I’d done second rounds over skype before, but initial screens had always been over the phone. I really did prefer having the visual cues. That said, though, be sure you check over your space ahead of time – background noise, lighting, speaker volume, wifi reliability – and that you test skype out beforehand, as someone else mentioned. You don’t want to be figuring some of that out mid-interview. And if you’re being interviewed by a group of people, be prepared to not be able to see them all. I personally don’t find it distracting, but I know people who do. Good luck!

  46. Science!

    I applied, interviewed and got an offer for a new job! An internal position, in a different department with a small paybump. Moving out of academic positions is hard, but I think I’m ready. This is a position that I can see myself in for a couple of years, developing a skill set I’m not used to (customer service? My customers are usually my cell cultures!)

    1. Sam.

      Moving out of academic work can be hard! It took me time to adjust, but I’ve honestly never regretted it. Congrats on the new position, and good luck!

  47. Gone anon for this one

    Hi all. I’m on a train to a job interview in another city and typing this on my phone, so apologies if this is unclear.

    I have a friend working at my old company, same department. I’m being considered for a new position under my old boss. Problem is this new position would work closely with two teams and I am worried that it’s like the teams are the Sharks and the Jets. There was a clique problem when I was there and based on some offhand remarks by friend and former boss I get the sense the situation is worse, not better.

    So my friend offered to give me some “insider info” on people I’d meet who I don’t know. I thought she meant work styles, etc., but she went into great detail about why she doesn’t like one person on the other team, who I would work closely with. I was taken aback because I was curious about his perspectives on the actual work but the level of vitriol I got instead is very unlike my friend. And what she describes is nothing unusual or egregious. I wish she’d had better judgment than to tell me all this before I meet him for an interview, but it also makes me wonder if this sort of venting is typical for the office.

    I also wonder whether “stay out of any cliques” will be harder if not impossible with a preexisting friend there. A job breaking down work silos is one thing, a job trying to negotiate office cliques is another. Wondering about all this before the in-person interview is also giving me great pause. I’ll ask thoughtful questions and try to get a sense in the interviews for what office culture is like, but if I’m getting warning bells at this stage, is it smart to listen? If the interviews don’t allay my worries should I just cut and run now?

    1. Jennifer

      Oh lord, this drama doesn’t sound good. I concur that if you have a friend there, you would be in her clique.

      However, I would say it’s better to be in a clique than to not be in any cliques. I have problems here because I’m not in one.

      1. Gone anon for this one

        Yeah, I can definitely see that. I’d rather have a different job than have to navigate cliques at all, to be honest. I wouldn’t necessarily want to be in a work clique with my friend’s work buddies, and I also don’t want to worry that getting lunch with my friend sometimes puts me in there automatically. Now that I’m done with the interviews, though, I’m feeling slightly better about it, so we’ll see how the situation develops. Sorry your workplace’s cliquishness is causing issues for you, that’s really unfair.

    2. Technical_Kitty

      You can try the old “be nice to everyone and take no sides” tack. You might have to actively cultivate friends in both groups.

    3. Blue

      Oof, that does not sound good. On the plus side: you went into this on high alert, knowing you needed to specifically scout out more information re. office culture. You might do some info gathering and decide you can deal with whatever crap is going on or find that your friend has a warped perspective from being there so long, but if what you observe and learn doesn’t significantly assuage your concerns…yeah, I’d cut and run. Fast.

  48. Katniss

    My office holds a yearly “Spring Cleaning” competition. Usually it just involves wiping down and decluttering your desk, and if you do you get entered into a raffle. The other year I won a nice plant because my desk is always clean anyway.

    This year they’re ramping it up to ridiculous proportions. The CEO will be wandering around deciding who “passes” and who doesn’t. They’re diving us up in to teams to add a peer pressure aspect, and if you don’t fit their requirements, your entire team loses. And the standards of a clean desk are ridiculous: no personal items in your drawers whatsoever and a “maximum of one personal item, such as photos” in your actual cubicle.

    Not looking for advice as my entire team is not going to participate, but I just have to know what kind of thinking leads a company to think this is anything but insulting and demoralizing? What train of thought made someone think this was a great idea?

    1. Jennifer

      A culture that doesn’t want you to have any personality would think this sounds great.

      Good luck to you and your team, I fear your not participating may cause problems though.

      1. Katniss

        Luckily my boss and her boss are in agreement on this, so it won’t just be peons saying “no, thanks”.

    2. ThatGirl

      Hi :)

      your workplace is ridiculous, indeed. There’s no reason for anywhere to be so depersonalized, and especially when you’re not a public-facing office. It just serves to demoralize.

      1. Katniss

        Seriously! We never have clients here, so it’s got to be that someone higher up has ridiculous standards that they think we’ll all love catering to.

    3. Alice

      Wait, the CEO is going to be wandering around, opening people’s desk drawers to check for personal items? WTF

      1. Katniss

        Yeah, if I didn’t fear repercussions I’d fill my drawers with tampons or something else that I’m sure would shock the CEO.

        1. Decima Dewey

          What about switching out personal items? Fergus fills a drawer full of tampons and a pair of size 4 women’s sneakers. Meanwhile, Lucinda fills a drawer with beard grooming stuff and a ukulele.

        2. Not So NewReader

          Eh, someone ought to put the tampons ON the desk saying that they are on the desk since no personal items are in the drawer and they are allowed one personal item ON the desk.
          /don’t do this. Just thinking out loud.

    4. kbeers0su

      I feel like this is a situation where one of the higher-ups just “read a great book about how your life can change if only you” and it’s about decluttering and now they’ve taken it to a whole new level. I hate how someone’s obsession can get passed along to their employees like this…

      1. Jadelyn

        I was just coming to say this. Someone higher-up read a book, or watched a documentary, or took a seminar, and they have the zeal of a new convert so they’re taking it out on everyone around them.

    5. CatCat

      It’s amazing how someone can take a lowkey little office event with a potential for a fun prize, and turn it into a demoralizing nightmare.

      “Jane had a tampon in her desk drawer so she and all her team are disqualified. Thanks a lot, *Jane.*”

      “Ted had separate photos of his two kids on his desk. Way to ruin it for everyone!”

    6. Bostonian

      “no personal items in drawers”

      They… search the drawers for cleanliness?

      Holy hell, there’s no way I would be cleaning out the week’s worth of gym clothes and various snacks I keep in my drawers at all times!

      1. Katniss

        Right? My gym socks and gym underwear live in that bottom drawer. That is their rightful place, and there they shall remain.

    7. zora

      omg WWHHYYYYYY do people have to take something simple and fun, and decide it’s NOT BIG ENOUGH and then turn it into a complete, competitive nightmare?!?!?!

      Stop. Ruining. Things. ggrrrrrr

    8. PizzaDog

      Oh cool I didn’t know Ray Holt ran a company.

      This is so weird. Surely the CEO has better ways to spend his time.

    9. WorkingOnIt

      Urgh I hate this – it’s essentially micromanaging because the CEO is a neat freak or associates cleaniness with organisation. I need papers spread all over my desk and the ability to randomly stack stuff because if I can see them then I know where they are and I don’t know it just works for me. With any of these types of obsessions with tidiness I feel like my personality is under attack. There’s no one way to do anything. Although I’d put away confidential papers etc at the end of the day, and try to straighten up ‘to appear’ correct sometimes I needed those papers just the way I had to them to be able to deal with the same thing the next day. I know it pisses off neat freaks but having my desk micromanaged and tidy being equated with organised/smart makes me feel like I’m being treated like a child with a messy room rather than an adult with a different processing way than you and that pisses me off.

    10. Cowgirlinhiding

      Play along – on the day he is doing inspections take everything off your desk and out of the drawers (what are those boxes stacked in the corner?) and leave only one pencil and pad of paper. Everything else empty.
      Wait for reaction. Priceless. You should win or not but CEO night get the picture that he took it too far. Once he is gone, everything goes back to normal.

      1. Katniss

        I am very tempted to do this!

        My coworker was thinking of making one giant collage of pictures, so it would technically be one picture, but on her entire cubicle. Or a giant framed picture of the way her desk used to look.

      2. zora

        I Totally didn’t think of this. I would actually be willing to do that for one day just to make a point.

        Of course, it would actually suck if I couldn’t find a place to hide my things in the building, because I take the bus and it would not be fun to lug my stuff back and forth.

    11. smoke tree

      This kind of reminds me of when my old employer would take pictures of messy desks to shame the employees during all-building meetings. They would also take pictures of clean desks as examples of what everyone else should aspire to. Exactly 100 percent of the clean desks were owned by interns.

    12. Not So NewReader

      I hope you smile a little bit:

      Our store was going to implement handbag searches. We knew it was coming but not when. One day we get the word TODAY is the day. One by one coworkers came over to me. “NSNR, you’re a married woman…” I just told them to put it in my purse. Pretty soon, my purse was packed, they had to really push to get their items in there.

      Everyone else went before me. No problems. Finally it was my turn. My bosses pulled out various pads and tampons, there were several sets of BC, some rolling papers and condoms. They got about half way down and came to the bottle of “love gel”. By then they were BEET RED, they packed everything back in (not sure how) and told me to be prepared for future searches.

      You know, I did not blush at all.

      1. Blue

        Uhhhhh. What are they even looking for in these searches? That totally deserves epic embarrassment (for them, not you, obviously.)

      2. valentine

        This was so kind and lovely of you. I want this in a movie, with Sally Field as the new person who kills the policy.

      1. Mephyle

        And in case it’s not clear, this combines a running gag that started here a month or two ago (“At least it’s not…”) with a topic that was thoroughly discussed this week (the dreadful inappropriateness of workplace weight loss competitions).

    13. valentine

      I’d be worried they were planning layoffs. If there’s no timeframe, pass all the stuff from desk to desk during the competition. I don’t suppose he’d chortle if everyone put their stuff in his space while he’s doing the rounds.

      1. only acting normal

        I didn’t think layoffs, but – speaking from experience- I did think they’re planning to move to hotdesking.

    14. WillowSunstar

      Wait, inside the drawers? But isn’t that the entire reason of drawers? OMG, I keep all my Toastmasters books in a drawer. And at least one feminine product, because we’ve all been there when all of the machines on all of the floors are out and you’ve spent your last quarter. And the tea stash in the the other drawer, so I can finally use it up. This is one of the things I first liked about my current job…having an actual cubicle with drawers to put things in. Drawers are meant to be used, and it’s not like anyone sees what is in them when they are closed, so who cares?

  49. Laura H

    Tl; dr: I don’t want to waste my tax refund.

    I have a question that’s in a grey area of work and not but putting it in the Friday open thread because I think I’ll get more of the type of answer I’m wanting. *Alison, if this actually does fit better in the weekend thread, please delete and I’ll post it there tomorrow instead.*

    I’m getting a tax return that’s (for simplicity’s sake) $550. How would you split it percentage wise between an IRA, savings, and regular checking?

    I’d like to pop in at least one month’s contribution into my ira ($60/mo) I’m looking at purchasing a new laptop (picked and carted already) as well that’s under $275 within the month. And I want to possibly unofficially earmark some for rent ($120/ mo split between my two pay periods usu $80 first pp and $40 second pp.)

    I’m good with my money, but I want to continue developing good habits. And I figure that starting with the (smaller) large amounts develops your habits for bigger amounts down the road.

    Thank y’all.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Woo-ee, let’s see if I can give suggestions here without tipping into official advice :)

      It would really depend on your individual situation. One good thing to keep in mind is that while IRA money is not inaccessible to you should you find yourself in a pinch, there are real and definite costs to dipping into it, and you might want to err on the side of caution if you think you might need that money later on.

      That’s not an argument against HAVING an IRA, mind you — but keeping out money for the laptop is a good idea, and if you’re concerned about rent being a stretch on your budget, you might want to keep the rest of the money in a savings account rather than a retirement account.

      The most painless way to contribute to an IRA is to do it like a 401k, and make your contributions as payroll deductions if possible. Personally, I’m not a fan of putting “windfall” type money into a retirement account simply because of the likelihood of wanting the lump sum for other things.

    2. Master Bean Counter

      My approach to “extra” money is a 50/50 split, usually. 50% to savings or debt payoff and 50% for fun.
      Worry about bumping your IRA contributions when/if you get a raise at work.

    3. Boredatwork

      Technically – no one gets a “refund” you simply overpaid on your taxes, therefore decreasing your weekly paycheck.

      If you are making regular contributions to a retirement fund already, and don’t have outstanding credit card debt and have a solid emergency fund (typically 6 months of living expenses), I vote you spend the money! all of it!

      Otherwise, pay off a credit card or build up that emergency fund.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        Well, a regular refund from a merchant is also a return of overpayment, so it’s not an inaccurate term.

      2. Bea

        Refund is the correct word in the accounting sense. Your point should be that the comment writer should actually change their W-4 so that they do not withhold so much, I have my down to a science so I get less than $100 dollars back but don’t owe anything. I’m good with my money, it does me better in my pocket and not in the interest free pot the government has it in until the next year.

    4. Emily S.

      Do you already have an emergency savings fund that would cover 3-4 months of living expenses?
      If not, the money should go to that. In a savings account.

    5. Scubacat

      Generally speaking, I like to divide my tax refunds in half. Half goes to something fun (say, like a laptop). Then half to savings (hello retirement!). Its training your brain to link a reward with the action of saving for the future.

  50. KR

    Having so many issues focusing. I need to go to therapy or something to try and get my life together. I feel like my work output is just so bad right now and I’m making stupid mistakes but I just can’t make my mind focus.
    I think part of it is that I have a lot going on right now and my husband is away so everything at home falls to me. We had bad sandstorms yesterday so what was planned as a relax-and-recharge evening turned into dusting the entire house. I still have to vaccum. It couldn’t be put off – the dust and Sand was everywhere and it still is after running the Roomba and dusting, it was just too late to turn on vaccum.
    I am trying to be gentle on myself and make myself focus and get things done. I wish I could just make myself do what I need to do. Thanks for listening.

    1. Recently Diagnosed

      *points to name* As someone who spent the first 28 years of her life pretty sure she had ADHD but never getting tested, I encourage you to reach out about it. I also see a therapist on a bi-weekly basis for some other things, but getting treated for ADHD has turned so many things in my life around that I just assumed were always going to be personal flaws of mine. Internet hugs.

      1. KR

        Thank you. I’ve been wanting to go see a therapist but the process of finding someone and calling my insurance company to see if they cover that person and so on is overwhelming, so I haven’t been able to do it yet. I appreciate the hugs.

    2. Jessi

      Can you throw money at this situation? Hire a housekeeper/ assistant for a few hours each week?

      1. KR

        You know, I have honestly been considering it. I got my couches steam cleaned a few months ago and it was AMAZING. The same company will steam clean my tile for a good price and it sounds wonderful. We have the cash to throw at the situation. I will do some googling to see if there’s a way I can help this with money.

    3. LilySparrow

      Are you sleeping? I don’t sleep well when my husband’s away, and sleep is key to everything else working right (mind and body).

      1. KR

        I’m not sleeping super well, you’re right. I’m trying to make sure I get three meals in me a day, lots of water, and sleep. Thank you for your comment.

        1. Traveling Teacher

          When my husband has to travel, for me, it’s really helpful to put a soothing nature sounds soundtrack–like an ocean one or quiet rain–on while I’m falling asleep. Just having a little something is great for me to cover up all of the squeaks and bumps in the night that freak me out when I’m alone!

    4. Not So NewReader

      Do you have someone who will touch base with you on a regular basis- by email, phone, text whatever?
      I had an aunt. We would call each other, “Whatcha doing today?” It’s amazing how just talking over small, mundane things like daily activities can be so helpful. And when something unusual happened, one would ask the other, “Do you have a plan for that?” If no, we would talk through options. She lived over a 100 miles away from me so the question was not rude, it was practical. She was not going to come over and help me. She could talk through options with me, though.

      While this should not be in place of therapy, it might be a good addition to your life, if you have a person who is willing to talk with you regularly. It should be someone whose opinion and ways you respect, a thinking person.

      Meanwhile check out your self-care. Make sure you are hydrating and eating good foods. This,too, can help support your thinking process. Again, not a replacement for therapy and other things but indeed a supportive activity that is a good solid piece of your overall plan here.

      1. KR

        Thank you for your comment. My friends have been great for me. I’m very used to my husband being away but this time it’s been harder than usual.

    5. Thursday Next

      It’s hard to “make” yourself focus. That’s not always a fair expectation of yourself! It sounds like you have some unusual circumstances now, with a sandstorm and your husband being away, and it’s great that you recognize you should be trying to be kind to yourself. Therapy might be one way of practicing self-kindness right now?

      1. KR

        You’re so right, therapy is the way I should be practicing self kindness. It’s hard because this is mainly affecting work. I have to make myself do it because it has to get done. Thank you for your comment. I appreciate the support.

  51. GD

    References question. I’m job searching for the first time in 5 years and have recently found a posting in another department at my (large, public) university that I have a strong interest in. I’m wondering how I should handle references if it comes up– my manager is pretty toxic for a number of reasons– but if she found out I was looking she would handle it REALLY poorly (to give you an idea, she still talks about a job *candidate* we had three years ago that withdrew her application to take a job elsewhere after saying she wanted to work at our university to be closer to family– she’s very adamant this person is some crazy liar…). As such, I’d only want her contacted if I was the finalist for the position, if that. How should I communicate that if I’m asked if she can be contacted?

    The next best option as a reference would likely be my old boss above my manager– we had a good relationship and she works in another department at this university. The only potential issue is that she left our department over a personal scandal (an affair)– but I don’t think the department I’m applying to would know that. I also have a few trusted peers that I’ve worked with that I know wouldn’t tell my manager I’m looking– but I’m not sure if peers make for the *best* references, even though I work with some of them on a near-daily basis. I’m guessing any of my peers at my previous job are now outdated references since I’ve been in my current role for 5 years?

    Also, if you have any tips about navigating a job search around a toxic manager besides the reference issue– I’d love to hear stories just to feel like I’m not alone!

    1. Ali G

      It’s perfectly reasonable to ask that they not contact your current employer/manager. It’s actually pretty standard, because most people don’t want their current employers to know they are looking.
      I wouldn’t worry about the “scandal” with your old manager. The only thing that matters is that she supervised you, and she would agree to give a positive recommendation. Peer rec’s aren’t as strong, but if that is all you have at this point, I would do one.
      Good luck!!

    2. Blue

      Is there someone higher in the hierarchy than you who isn’t your direct supervisor? I work in higher ed and have twice used people who were, for all intents and purposes, peers, but who officially had higher levels of responsibility and fancier titles. I worked with them pretty closely on a number of projects, so they were able to speak to my work despite not having the supervisory relationship, and its been effective thus far. And I agree that you shouldn’t let the “personal scandal” prevent you from using your old grandboss as a reference if she’s willing!

  52. LostInTheStacks

    I have a theoretical question about teachers and discrimination laws. As part of my research recently, I watched an oral history with a World War II veteran who was blinded in one eye. When he became a teacher shortly afterwards, the principal warned him that if the kids found out, they would taunt him/try to get away with things on his blind side. He said that never happened during his career, but it got me thinking. Are teachers protected at all from hostile work environments created by their students?

    Let’s keep it as simple as possible and say it’s limited to verbal harassment regarding something like a disability, which doesn’t raise to the level of being criminally threatening but would ordinarily be covered by the laws if it were coming from a boss or a coworker. Does the administration have any responsibility for controlling the situation? Do the students (or their parents, I suppose, if they’re minors)? Or is it exclusively the teacher’s problem, since part of their job is to manage their classroom and monitor students’ behavior?

    1. Alice

      I wasn’t in a public school, but I was supported every time I went to my manager and said “student X is behaving inappropriately; I’d like you to talk to him/her about it.” They would never throw the student out, but they would give them a talking to and in a couple cases threaten to call their embassy (because their tuition was being paid by the embassy, not just because they were a native of that country).

    2. Millennial Lawyer

      One of the main challenges of teaching is that you have to manage unruly minors who can be really offensive. You can’t sue your students. There would have to be something else going on such as colleagues tacitly allowing it/joining in/telling him he can’t teach because of student reactions, etc, and again, that involves colleagues, not really the students.

      1. Millennial Lawyer

        Also, teachers are usually unionized and have guidelines for how they need to be supported and evaluated. There are specific strategies that teachers would be trained to use in classroom management and would hopefully be supported if they have assistance. There are likely internal grievance processes that a teacher could turn to if they felt they weren’t being supported, and may have legal recourse if they felt they were being penalized without being supported enough. That said, it’s their responsibility to master these techniques. And again, can’t sue your students.

        1. LostInTheStacks

          That’s more or less what I expected, although I had somehow totally forgotten that teachers unions existed and would also play a role. Thanks!

    3. krysb

      I have a friend who was a temp teacher for the local high school. She said the worst part was the boys sexually harassing her.

    4. Oxford Coma

      Are teachers protected at all from hostile work environments created by their students?

      Were you looking for an answer other than hysterical laughter? My family and social circle is full of teachers, many of whom work in distressed districts in a major city. In the past ten years, their collective experience has included:

      Two stabbings with shivs
      One chunk of meat bitten out of a shoulder during a cafeteria gang fight
      Multiple broken fingers while trying to fend off assaults
      One deep dog bite (a HS student brought her chihuahua to school)
      One accusation of kidnapping/rape, because the student didn’t want her parents to find out that she was spending the weekend with her 25-year-old boyfriend

      1. LostInTheStacks

        Well, those are really different examples; you’ll notice I specifically said VERBAL harassment that does NOT rise to the level of criminal behavior. And I’m a little put out by the first sentence of your response, honestly… I thought it was a reasonable question. I know that, in actuality, many teachers do have to put up with more than they should. I was just curious about what the legal opinions/practices surrounding that would be if someone wanted to escalate the issue.

        1. Oxford Coma

          The point, which I apparently did not state explicitly enough, was that none of those obviously severe and/or illegal actions ever amounted to any (legal or practical) recourse for the teacher or (legal) penalty for the student. If stuff at that level is getting swept under the rug, and it is, you’re SOL for problems like verbal harrassment.

          Yes, your question is reasonable. The reality of the situation, however, is not. Thus why there is a teacher shortage. People are sick of it.

    5. A Teacher

      Should we be? Sure. Are we? It depends.

      I’ve been physically assaulted to the point of pressing charges twice–neither in my classroom, both in the hall where I was helping to break up a fight. We are told to “be a good witness” but if we seriously stood around and watched the fight, well how do you think that would go over?

      I’ve had kids call me names and in a few cases get suspended but most of the time they get a warning–nothing like being called a “f—ing b—ch” and then have the child come back in the next day to class. Sexual harassment has occurred as well. Most kids don’t call most teachers names. Most kids are decent human beings that have their moments. They are why I like teaching.

    6. Not That Jane

      I don’t have a useful answer to this, but wanted to chime in that I have been told about this exact situation. A former colleague with a language-related learning disability misspelled things on the board occasionally, and a few super-smart middle school students actually started quasi-bullying the teacher about it. I know it was a frustrating and difficult situation, and this teacher didn’t feel able to complain or raise it as a concern to anyone, even when it rose to the level of “I need a new job rather than dealing with this every day.”

    7. Middle School Teacher

      I think it depends a lot on the union. I think here, if I were subjected to a repeated pattern of harassment due to disability, I would contact the union. However, as Millennial Lawyer said, part of the job is dealing with unruly kids. And kids can be jerks (just like anyone can be a jerk). You would have to manage that.

      I would be making my admin and union aware of the harassment, though. That was a case here where a teacher launched a human rights complaint against her board because the teacher was harassed by a student racially, accused falsely of sexual assault, and other things, and the board did nothing to protect her. The teacher won her case.

    8. nym

      I had a math teacher in high school with a visible disability – his right arm was paralyzed and shriveled from non-use. He addressed it on the first day of class by explaining it was an injury from a motorcycle accident when he was only about a year older than we were at the time, and as far as I know, no one ever brought it up again to his face or behind his back.

      I think if another teacher or administrator had heard comments they would have addressed it, but I recognize that my school/peer group may not have been average public school or average teenagers, and that might be different from what you are theorizing about here.

  53. MissGirl

    I had a strange interview that left me perplexed on how to best handle a few things. While it’s come and gone, I’m curious how others would’ve handled it because I could have done things differently.

    I saw a posting for Position A on a company’s site. While I met a lot of the requirements, it was a stretch for me experience wise. I decided to go ahead and apply. I wrote a small paragraph on my resume labeled summary which I customized to explain why I’m a fit for that role. The same day I also saw a posting for Position B, which was more in my current wheelhouse. I didn’t apply because the position had been posted for four months and I figured it was too late.

    A week later I had a phone screen with the recruiter about Position A, who thought I might also be interested in Position B with my background. The next step in the process was a half hour phone interview with the respective hiring managers. I asked if I could move forward with both since the interview with the recruiter was more generalized about the company not the position. My thinking was a conversation with the hiring managers would give me a much better idea of both roles.

    My interview with Position A went fine though I was concerned about the workload (occasional 80-hour work weeks). Then I had the interview with Position B Manager on a Friday at 5 pm. Right off she asks why I’m even interested in the position since I applied to Position A and they’re so different. Her tone came off as adversarial and it threw me. I tried to explain how well my resume lined up to the position and how excited I was about it. It almost seemed she hadn’t reviewed my resume. There were other things that she said that also felt defensive.

    I was rejected the next morning but wondered if should’ve done some things differently.

    After the interview, I wanted to send a thank-you letter but hesitated because I wasn’t sure how to handle a few things. All my communication had gone through the recruiter so I didn’t have her email I address. It would be easy enough to figure it out, and usually I would send an email directly. I couldn’t tell by her attitude if reaching out directly would make her madder or have her think better of me. I considered mentioning I did want to apply to her position, but because it had been posted for four months I didn’t. I wasn’t sure if this would help or make me sound flaky. The rejection came before I had time to decide.

    I also wondered later if I should’ve sent over a second resume to the recruiter with a summary geared more toward the second position for that hiring manager. Not sure if that’s how she knew about the other position or if the recruiter mentioned it. My resume doesn’t specify the position I’m applying to.

    Also, should’ve I have picked one position and not moved forward with both?

    I did send an email after the rejection thanking her, asking to be kept in mind for future positions, and if she had any feedback. She never replied.

    1. Jennifer

      It sounds like that manager was a jerk, to be honest. Not much you can do about jerk.

      That said, I haven’t had luck applying to 2 jobs in the same place, if one rejects you it seems like the other does too. Or did in my case, I guess the one that interviewed me told the other one “oh, she doesn’t have X,” and I got an auto reject letter.

    2. Bea

      You asked and they said it was no biggie and your first interview went well. #2 was just an asshole, I’m sorry! You don’t want to work for someone who gets salty that you have options and skills that spread across different positions.

    3. MissGirl

      Thanks, I wanted to make sure I didn’t break some unwritten rule about interviewing for both positions.

  54. CC

    Does the rule of ‘gifts only flow downwards’ apply when your boss is co-hosting a baby shower for you at work? My boss, two of my coworkers in my department, and two other coworkers are all hosting a baby shower for me, during work hours. I would like to get them host/hostess gifts. Probably something simple, like foodie gifts from Trader Joe’s. Is this appropriate? Or any other gift suggestions?
    Thanks!

    1. Millennial Lawyer

      I’ve never heard of someone giving hosts gifts. They are hosting as a gift to you without the expectation of something in return. I’d give them a card conveying your appreciation.

    2. [insert witty user name here]

      I respectfully disagree with the comments above. I absolutely got hostess gifts for my sister and friend who hosted my bridal shower. They were, in fact, small foodie gifts from Trader Joe’s, and a thank you note. I would be on board with going against the “gifts only flow downwards rule” in this case. And I think your inclination to keep it small and consumable is spot-on.

      Flip side: as a party host, I would never *expect* a hostess gift, so I’m not saying it’s a “must-do” thing – I just chose to and would again for any party in my honor.

    3. Bea

      Trinket gifts are always okay in my mind. It’s gifting large things that get awkward.

      I give everyone a coffee cup that reminds me of them and candies for special occasions. I’m not leaving the boss out because oh noes gifts flow down. It’s a trinket. Snacks are regularly appreciated for most people.

    4. Bend & Snap

      Hostess gifts are a thing where I’m from. It might be regional. And yes, I think it’s appropriate in this context.

    5. General Ginger

      I think small foodie gifts from TJs would be appropriate for them as thanks for hosting, in this situation.

    6. nym

      I’m in a region where a hostess gift is part of the package (even though I’m from a region where it’s not, and it feels weird to me) and it would be perfectly fine to gift up something small in this case. The go-to around here is houseplants, which are hard for me because my cats try to eat anything leafy green and some are poisonous — I would love a foodie nibble from TJs instead!

      Yes, I have one cat that will dig kale out of the grocery bag and put toothmarks in it if I don’t put it in the fridge right away! Also rosemary, strawberries, and the plastic bags they come in. Silly cat.

    7. TootsNYC

      With a PERSONAL shower, it is appropriate to give a gift to the person who has thrown you the shower. (I once wrote an etiquette column for a weddings publication, and this is the sort of thing I had to know.) A frequent suggestion was to send flowers to arrive the day before all the prep work had to be done.

      But for a WORK shower, a gift to the host is inappropriate.

      Write a thank-you note, or just say thanks. That’s enough.
      And the next time there’s some sort of shower, be part of the hosting–in other words, pay it forward.

  55. Amber Rose

    Mini rant: The firemen came, as they do every year, to do a compliance hazard report. This year they balked and panicked because we have a quite large number of compressed gas cylinders (around 30 of the big guys and a bunch of the li’l ones) and there’s no way of knowing from outside.

    Yes? So we have for all the years the company has been around. Anyways welders with their acetylene are arguably more dangerous than our swamp gas and I’ve never seen a “warning: we employ welders” sign anywhere.

    This place hasn’t blown up since the previous owners were here, and only because they thought that a good place to store paint cans was directly above a piece of heavy machinery. :/

    Also someone got hurt yesterday because they tried to fix a chair with duct tape and it obviously didn’t hold, and I really want to put a sign on my cube that says I CAN’T FIX STUPID.

    1. Thlayli

      Are the cylinders stored correctly? There are guidelines on how to store gas cylinders, including location and distance from buildings, cage types needed, appropriate signage etc. If you’ve met all the guidelines then the fire assessors would not be upset, you must have missed one of the guidelines. This stuff is legally regulated.

      I’ve never seen “we employ welders” but I’ve seen appropriate signage everywhere acetylene and oxygen are correctly stored.

      1. Amber Rose

        We didn’t miss anything. Like I said, it’s not been a problem for the last decade. This dude was upset we didn’t have external signage for some reason. Maybe he was new.

        1. Not So NewReader

          It could be a new reg or they could be tightening up on some regs. My thought was that the inspectors meet and say “Okay this year we are targeting all A, B, and Cs. We are going to write anyone who does not have these things in place.” Then the following year they do all D, E and Fs.

          I think my husband nailed it. His thought was that these folks are supposed to find something wrong. This is their job and it could be even what they are evaluated on, I don’t know. So I just decided that when an inspector comes something WILL be wrong. Hopefully, it’s easy to fix and then we move on.

        2. Thlayli

          If it’s not currently a requirement in your area then this is an easy fix. Just send them a link to relevant regs and say there’s nothing in here about external signage, we request you alter the report findings to reflect that we are meeting all regs. But make absolutely certain that you are correct. The regs and guidelines are updated constantly and it is possible they misunderstood the latest update, but it’s also possible you misunderstood it. It’s highly unlikely they just invented a new rule that doesn’t actually apply in your location and went on a rant about it.

    2. FF

      I don’t know why this would generate a *rant* unless the inspector was unpleasant. In our region, we require external signage. They were concerned because it’s dangeous to not have posted signage when cylinders are in use. Entering a building and finding unexpected cylinders is not good – and size, context and color are never guarantees. As an inspector, I loathe the excuse “it’s been fine for a decade” because all I hear is “it’s been dangerous for a decade”. So, now you know! That’s the purpose of many inspections – to identify gaps and promote correction. Our rules and regs are for our safety and your safety. And they apply to everyone – so we usually like to treat everything the same so that we don’t assume that unlabeled = safe. Say “thank you” and put the sign up?

      1. Not So NewReader

        If the guy was ranting that is NOT cool. Inspection is more like a teaching job. Explain what is wrong and explain why it needs to be remedied. Ranting does nothing.

    3. LAM

      This place hasn’t blown up since the previous owners were here…

      This made me chuckle. Thank you.

  56. princesswings

    I have to interview candidates to replace one of my assistants this afternoon, for the first time in nine years. Please tell me they’re more afraid of me than I am of them.

    1. Um

      Given the power dynamics in play here, I think it’s fair to say they’re probably more afraid of you.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yep. Some of them are wondering if they will have something to eat next week or not.

    2. DDJ

      I always have to talk myself down a little bit before I conduct interviews. “You’re the one DOING THE INTERVIEW, why are you so nervous about it?” Seriously. It’s been so long since I’ve been interviewed that I think my brain just gets confused about the whole thing.

      I reckon at this point, you’re probably all equally afraid of each other! You’re having those feelings, that’s ok! But based on the power dynamic, you really do have less CAUSE to be afraid. I hope the interviews go well and that you find a great candidate!

  57. Fabulous

    On Monday I sent an email to my remote boss asking for a 20% raise. I outlined my reasoning in the email; it was basically a recap of my recent quarterly performance review. She’s actually going to be in the office next week and scheduled a half hour for us to sit down and talk about it. I’m terrified!

    I’ve asked for a raise once at a past job and was denied. At this job, I was hired on for $2 lower than I asked for. And now I’m asking for $2 ABOVE my original ask in order to bring me up to the industry average for my job.

    How does one get through this kind of conversation without having a panic attack!? My heart starts to race just thinking about it!

    1. BRR

      I asked for my first raise last year and was petrified. I had a sheet of information for my manager (I know how she processes things) and I had a similar sheet with additional talking points that I can follow. I practiced my “pitch” out loud several times and thought of questions I should anticipate. What I still nervous? YES! But I had practice and notes to guide me. Good luck!

    2. zora

      1. What is the very worst thing that could happen? But realistically.
      Is she going to fire you for asking? (I doubt it). She says they can’t afford it? Then you can ask when it might be possible/how to get there.
      Now remind yourself you ARE GOING TO BE OKAY even if the worst possible thing happens. Because you will, right?

      2. BREATHE!!! I know, such a cliche, but it really does help. Every time your heart starts racing, take 5 deep breaths. And back to #1: YOU ARE GOING TO BE OKAY.

      Don’t be terrified!!! It will probably go fine! Come back and let us know what happened!

  58. Hellanon

    Guys. I am rapidly getting to BEC stage with my direct report, who’s on a PIP (second written warning) because of overall work quality, and who just keeps on making stupid mistakes with her work. I have been coaching, coaching coaching, correcting correcting correcting and… crickets, in terms of improvement. Checklists, following the written instructions, issuing a request that basically comes down to “don’t make any decisions without asking” and – nothing. No improvement.

    What do you do? I know being put on a PIP with language that includes “up to and including termination” is supposed to help, but how do you handle the interpersonal aspects of when it doesn’t? I am scrupulously polite & respectful with her, but I just want to ask her what is going through her head…and then get to the next phase of PIP-land so I can hire someone competent.

    1. Alice

      Maybe you can start thinking about the interview process and how you’ll improve it next time to avoid bad hires like this? It won’t make the PIP move any faster, but it might give you a sense of control that makes the waiting easier.

      1. GD

        To that end– we have student interns and with about half of them, it’s a struggle getting them to follow basic directions. I convinced my boss to swap out some of our interview questions and we got some very good and very telling responses this time around that I think will make a difference next year. The best switch was replacing her “How do you handle feedback?” question with “Tell us about a time when you didn’t agree with feedback you received, how did you resolve the situation?” and boy did we get some illuminating answers to that question! Including a fair number of students that apparently don’t attempt to resolve situations like that at all.

    2. Creag an Tuire

      It sounds like you can’t actually fire her until The Process is complete, but can you say, nicely but firmly, “You still seem to be struggling with this — should we continue, or should we start talking about what your strengths are so we can start thinking your transition and what kind of recommendation we can give you?”

      1. Former Retail Manager

        YES!!! If this person is not getting the picture from the PIP, I wonder if she even realizes that this is 99% sure of ending with her being let go? I think you need to spell that out for her and let her know that she isn’t improving to the degree that you need and see if she’ll tap out on her own.

        1. Creag an Tuire

          Yeah, it’s a combination of that and letting her know that you’re willing to recommend her to jobs that would play to her strengths (Admittedly, I’m hoping here that she has some good qualities…) and that she has options other than “ride this plane crash all the way down”.

          I’m saying this as someone who’s been on the other end of a “this is definitely not going to work out” conversation, FWIW.

    3. WorkingOnIt

      Be ‘brutal’ or blunt if you’re being so polite they may not be taking this too seriously and if you’re always coaching they may see this as ongoing training rather than something final. Make a meeting be really straightforward, I’m afraid we’re not seeing any improvements in your working and with PIP the next step will be termination, then give a time-frame (and stick by it – provided this is all HR approved.) But you’re maybe being too polite and kind at the moment which perhaps is doing this person a diservice they may not think they’re doing as badly as they are because although they’re on PIP you’re coaching them and they’re not being reprimanded. Say I need to see you do x, y, z by this point otherwise we will need to set up termination, if we have not seen any improvements in this timeframe. They may well be upsetting, but they can either really put their back into it, or look for something else – or they may even to decide to leave on their own accord. Give them feedback during the remaining timeline- don’t make it a one off and then return to coaching they’ll be thinking things are fine or be completely in the dark about how things are going and maybe scared to ask you. Arrange regular feedback meetings be very serious – I still need to see x, I’m afraid you’re still not meeting expectations and we are still on the timeline for termination, make regular clear official meetings rather than coaching them. I’m sure it will feel majorly uncomfortable for you but it is actually kinder as the person who is likely being terminated will have options, or will at least see this very clearly in their head – for whatever reason we’ve all been blinkered to obvious things- and will not be blindsided by their termination.

      1. Hellanon

        Oh, it’s spelled out. The written counseling memo included those exact words. And this is a grownup with a work history & a master’s degree! I am documenting and continuing to coach on process/bring mistakes to her attention… it’s the degree of not engaging with the necessary improvement, this weird passivity, that’s got me scratching my head.

        1. What-about-us

          Maybe they don’t think they can – have clocked out and are looking for other jobs. Or not – perhaps directly ask – you seem disengaged from this process are you not clear on what you need to do to pass PIP.
          I’m not sure what documenting means – are you writing notes or are you meeting and saying this isn’t acceptable? Also feel that having a direct conversation rather than a memo would clarify things. Even if they’ve had a work history they might never have found themselves in this position before. But equally maybe you have been clear and they’ve given up on this job and are waiting it out while they look for another

        2. Not So NewReader

          It could be that this job is not for her.

          Does she even check her own work before passing it on as completed work?

          Have you asked her what her plan is to prevent some of the recurring mistakes?

          In all likelihood, it’s not you, as another poster said, she has just checked out and putting in a physical presence until her time is over.

  59. Super stressed

    I need advice about how to reach out to a formal supervisor/mentor about potentially working at his organization! Here’s the situation:
    >Interned for Org A while in college. Org A is consultant, so although I was their intern I was on a job site at Org B.
    >Got job offers from both Org A and Org B
    >Accepted offer from Org B
    >Supervisor at Org A said that the door is always open for me, has made casual comments about how “we’ll get her next time ha ha”, etc.
    >Org A and Org B still have working relationship, so my current and former supervisors interact regularly, and I work with people with Org A.

    Anyway, I’ll be ready to move on from Org B soon (My supervisor at Org B is aware of this, so I don’t need to worry too much about keeping things quiet) and I’d be interested in working for Org A. My question is about how I raise my interest…do I email my old supervisor? Do I call him? I have no idea what to say!
    To complicate things, I am not 100% sure that I would want to work for the company (I don’t want to work there if I’ll be travelling all the time, for example, which is a possibility because of the nature of their work), but I do want to explore the option.

    Help!

    1. Master Bean Counter

      Send a quick email.
      Hey old supervisor I’m getting ready to move on from company B are there any openings at company that you think would be of interest to me?

  60. newbie

    Any tips for settling in at a new job? I’m in that uncomfortable ‘learning how to do things while doing them’ phase. It’s getting me down, because I’m coming from a job where I was doing super awesome, and I’m missing that feeling a lot right now.

    1. BadWolf

      I was there recently!! Things I told myself: This is part of the learning process. You’ve done it before and you’ll do it now (you weren’t magically awesome at your other job). As you go, it will start to snowball (instead of every single thing being new, a couple things will be familiar, then more and then more and then the new things are fun problems to tackle). It’s a bit like exercise — your brain has to make some new paths and get back into learning shape.

      Reward yourself for tackling something new! New tool for your hobby, nice meal, etc.

    2. AnotherJill

      I always liked that first part of a new job. Listening, looking around, figuring out who had the real power, what the interpersonal dynamics are, etc.

  61. Kris

    My 17-year-old son wants to apply for a retail job for the summer and into the next school year with one of his favorite chain stores. He’s inquired in person at the local store where he’d like to work and discovered that he must submit an online application to the chain website. He will not be available to work until early July. When would be the best time for him to submit the online application (eg, now but indicating that he will not be available for a few months vs. shortly before he is available vs. only after he is available)?

    1. Buckeye

      Some online applications have an “available start day” field, in which he could put whatever day in July he will be officially available. If that’s an option, he could go ahead and submit it now.

      If not, I would wait until 2-3 weeks before his available start day to submit the application.

    2. Lindsay J

      I would do it shortly before he is available. Like the beginning to middle of June.

      Most retail shops don’t have very long hiring processes, and generally won’t hire someone now to start in a couple months. When they want to hire someone they want someone who is able to start in like 2 weeks max.

      I also don’t think most ATSs would hold onto the application and wait to spit it out until a job opens closer to the time he is available. It will take it and send it to management right now, and they will reject him because they’re looking for someone to start in May, not in July. Or it will just sit and languish in the ATS forever and not be seen by an actual person because it doesn’t fit their criteria at the moment, and when they are hiring for a position starting in July in like June or so they will have fresh applications to look at.

      I don’t see any real advantage to applying now, and several potential disadvantages.

      1. Kris

        This was my thought, too, Lindsay, but my husband was more of Buckeye’s mind. To complicate matters, for the three weeks immediately preceding his availability, my son will be completely out-of-pocket, working as a sleepaway camp counselor. I think maybe the best thing for him to do is apply for the retail immediately after returning from camp and be ready to beat the bushes for babysitting and carpooling jobs if the retail job doesn’t work out immediately. Thanks!

        1. Buckeye

          I’ve never worked in retail and so submitting early may be detrimental as Lindsay J points out. His best bet is probably to wait like she suggested.

        2. WellRed

          I agree, for retail, he should wait till he gets back from camping cause if they don’t hear back timely they’ll just keep going down the list of candidates

  62. Annie Moose

    Whoops, just saw Alison’s comment on the other thread about doing a dedicated post for it. Please save your stories for that!! (and feel free to remove this post entirely, Alison, so it doesn’t take away from the official one)

  63. DouDouPaille

    Not a specific question here, but more of an observation. Wondering if others can relate. I’ve been really depressed lately that I don’t seem to be able to live up to my career potential. I’m 48, and after 25+ years in the working world I make less than 55K a year and only had “manager” in my title once in my life. I’m currently in a job I’m way overqualified for — I have been searching for MONTHS for something else, but there just isn’t much in my field in this area. I wish I had more to show for all my years of education and effort.. all my friends are already partners in a law firm, running their own startup, published writers, whatever. I know part of the problem is that I graduated into a recession in 1991 and it took a couple of years to even find someone to hire me, then I changed careers in the mid-2000s and basically had to start over at the bottom. The other problem is trying to balancing my career goals with my husband’s. Sometimes we have to move for my career, sometimes for his, but either way, someone’s career suffers during the transition. Sigh. Of course I am grateful for what I have, but I am just so bored in this job and feel like I should be 2 rungs higher at this point. Staring down 50 and thinking I’m on a downward slide to obscurity and retirement, and it’s probably too late to ratchet up the ladder now. Or maybe I just don’t have the energy anymore. Someone please snap me out of this Friday the 13th funk!!

    1. MechanicalPencil

      Hey, I understand. I’ve reached a milestone birthday and I’m not where I thought I’d be in life either, both professionally or personally. It’s extremely difficult to feel like you can’t go anywhere or do any better despite how much you try. I try to take my wins where I can and let the other stuff go. Keep trying to find a job. Maybe look at a slightly different industry, something that’s related but not the exact same industry.

    2. Alex

      This is very relatable and I’m only a dozen years post-college. I’ve really only had two “professional” jobs, but neither of them feel like they are on the level of what I think I’m capable of doing. I’m also moving for my partner’s career so I will be starting over in a new place with no leads. So I have somewhat resigned myself to the fact that my career will never define me or be the source of pride or self-esteem. The only really bummer for me though is I still am paying off student loans for degrees that never seemed to help me get ahead career-wise.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

        I can totally relate. I was at OldJob for 20 years was doing well (even had a Title). Then the Company was taken over by another and instead of getting a Gold watch, I got a Pink Slip. I was out of work for 2 years and when I did finally get a job, it was one that I was over qualified for (but after two years of NOT working, it was a dream come true). I’ve been at this job for 5 years now. I definitely do not see myself retiring from this current job and I am actively looking for something else that is more challenging. On the plus side, I do work with some very nice people at this job and there’s never a dull moment. I’ve not given up on finding my dream job, so I send out my resumes KNOWING one of them will get into the right hands, at the right company at the right time.

      2. General Ginger

        This is so relatable. I’m staring down 40 right now, and feeling much the same. To some degree, feeling that my career will never define me or be my primary source of pride/self-worth is freeing, but at the same time, it’s incredibly frustrating, as well. I have to remind myself that my experiences are not others’ experiences and can’t be, that I can find other areas to challenge myself in, but the lack of financial security aspect is really tough.

    3. WorkingOnIt

      I’m younger but similiar issue with regards graduating into a recession, it’s depressing comparing myself to others especially those younger who are way above me as they skipped the recession, or those within my age group who’ve got their lives put together and escaped the recession effects, or even much older people who have steady careers, own their own home and have security. What I’ve had to try to do (I’m definitely not always successful at it) is try to compare myself to my previous self, I was able to do this with my salary for instance, like I’m sure compared to other people at my level of experience/qualifications my salary wasn’t that great in my last job, but compared to my prior job it was actually a big bump upwards. Same in terms of responsibilities and the name awareness of the company. You’ve had different life experiences than other people, try to only compare yourself to you, and don’t look down on what you’ve achieved compared to what others had, you’ve no idea what’s going on behind the scenes for them. (Once again I have to remind myself this all the time.)

      It’s definitely not too late to move upwards, it just could be tough – like most things are. I think it would be good for you to go for it, you may feel worse down the line if you ‘slid into obscurity and retirement’ without a fight . Something I had to look at was how I was marketing myself on my resume – are you actually doing yourself a diservice in terms of value you give, what you’ve achieved and what you do? I really hated a particular significant job on my resume and looked down on it, and that probably hurt my ability to move forward, try and look at all your jobs objectively rather than perhaps feeling you should have been doing better, which inadvertently means you’ll probably undersell yourself.

    4. WellRed

      I’ve got a friend or two who are really hitting their professional stride and I always thought that would be me (I am the “smart one.”) I’m 48, burned out but not unhappy and frankly feeling broke. But I also feel unmotivated and unsure what to do next. However, circumstances are forcing me to dust off my resume so that could help.

  64. Countess Boochie Flagrante

    Those of you who interact with clients regularly… how do you manage explaining really obvious things without being condescending?

    This is on my mind this morning since I just got a very snarky email from a client about how an expected recurring transaction didn’t take place AGAIN, now it’s scheduled for next month but oh he’s sure there’s going to be some reason why we won’t process it next month, blah blah….

    Well, the reason the recurring transaction didn’t happen is that there’s no money in the account to pay it. I spent a good twenty minutes just trying to phrase my response email in a way that couldn’t possibly give the impression that I was being snarky back at him. Probably not helped by the weasel in my brain telling me my answer should totally be “Do you properly understand the concept of MONEY, sir?”

    Since I’m communicating in writing, I can’t use my normal strategies of tone management and casual word choice — I have to maintain a certain level of written formality, and of course there’s no tone in text. QA would not appreciate me adding “lol j/k” to a formal client email!

    1. Red Reader

      Is it the kind of thing where you can do something like “Llama Herders Inc attempted to process that transaction on Thursday the 12th at such-and-such time, but was unsuccessful due to insufficient funds. Is there another account that should be used for this month, or would you prefer that we process it out of the same account again?”

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        Not quite that wording, but it was close to what I ended up with. I think a large part of my problem is that NOT providing steps to avoid the problem is obviously a no-go, but pointing out “there’s no money in the account to place that recurring order, to avoid order cancellation please ensure the account is adequately funded before the next scheduled order date” feels like such a DUH solution that I’m just rubbing it in.

        1. Red Reader

          Nah, I feel you. That was the worst part of working as a cashier to me — because the people who aren’t expecting to have their payment card declined are usually super embarrassed about it, and the people who are (WHY??) are frequently awful. No, I won’t let it slide “just this once.” No, I won’t give you my employee discount. No, I won’t let you take stuff without paying for it. NO, I AM NOT THE ONE TAKING TOYS AWAY FROM YOUR CHILDREN AND SPOILING CHRISTMAS, YOU AWFUL AWFUL PERSON.

          But yeah, the frequency with which I got “What am I supposed to dooooooo?” I mean, I’m just the cashier here, all I can do is put back some of your purchases for you, I’m not the one who can remedy the fact that you don’t have enough money for what you’re trying to buy.

          1. WillowSunstar

            Considering that most companies let you check your balance online at home before you go shopping, I don’t see why more people don’t do that before going out shopping.

        2. zora

          I try to pretend in my head that I’m telling them something else that is NOT obvious, and then match my tone. And also pretend in my head that they asked nicely, instead of being a snarky brat. ;o)

          Honestly, your wording is not “DUH” for him, obviously, because he doesn’t get it, so I don’t think he will read it as snarky at all. He will read it as factual.

        3. Not So NewReader

          So many jobs end up being explaining obvious things to people.

          Gadget does not work. “Is it plugged in?”

          Machine does not run. “How is the gas tank, is it full?”

          One thing that has helped me some is to think of times where I did not plug in the gadget or did not check the gas tank. This stuff happens.

          It’s a little tougher when a customer/client makes the same mistake repeatedly. If your setting is more formal, I would go with giving the EXACT same explanation you gave the last time. Have your wording picked out and keep using the same words.
          If your setting is less formal (which it does not sound like it is) I will talk about memory triggers OR just do a sample memory trigger. “Yes, you can expect our bill to hit your account on the tenth day of every month. That way you can remember, the tenth is when the bill is paid.”

          It is also helpful if there is a service charge for late payment. This will catch those who are concerned about being on time. There are some people who will never get it, though.

    2. AnotherJill

      I used to go through this with students. Why did I get a B- on this assignment? Did you read my comments? No. Well, read them and then see if you have other questions.

      It does get really hard not to bring out the snark.

    3. Tuckerman

      I think it helps to give them the opportunity to save face, so the other person doesn’t get defensive. There’s always the teeny possibility that this was somehow your fault (or technology’s fault), so I like to leave room for that possibility. I’d approach more like I’m trying to gather information than I’m trying to teach them a lesson. “It looks like the account had insufficient funds. Were you expecting the transaction to come from a different account?” Basically, making room for the possibility that they sent a form indicating a new account, but it got lost in cyberspace, or Klingons intercepted it, or you missed it.

    4. Bea

      Just remind yourself that what’s obvious and standard to us isn’t to everyone else.

      I’ve explained basic things to everyone from consumers to executives who fly into a tantrum over goodness knows why.

      If it’s on the phone, stay calm and collected. If it’s in email, give them the details without adding any sass, most people do not feel it’s condescending they’re like “oh…right…there wasn’t money in there because bookkeeper didn’t transfer on time or whatever”

      Also having dealt with overdrawn accounts, unless this is a consumer, they’re probably spiraling the drain financially and are making their problem yours suddenly.

      A factual response with expressed concern for their inconveniences gets things done 97% of the time. The other 3% will be offended any chance they get.

      Almost two decades of dealing with humans has not rotted my heart out, I actually miss my CSR duties *doh*

    5. That Would Be a Good Band Name

      Another thing I had to remind myself of was that they don’t realize you are being snarky. It sounds that way in your head, but they don’t know you and aren’t reading it in your voice. This assumes you are using neutral, professional words obviously.

      I’d go with starting out with an apology, followed by what you found when you researched the issue. “I’m so sorry for the frustration of this transaction not going through. When I researched, it shows on our end that the account didn’t have the funds for this to process. Let me know if we should continue with this account or if there’s another one you would prefer to be used. Thanks so much!”

    6. Sam.

      Ok, I’ve been dealing with something like this from the other side, so I’ll just say kudos for being self-aware and thoughtful about how you’re coming across! Mine isn’t a client relationship – if I worked at a llama farm, and all the trainers were responsible for ordering food for their assigned llamas, this office would process the orders. Their point person replies to virtually every inquiry from a llama trainer with something like, “You can submit your food order at any time through X system, and it will arrive within 3 days.” It’s always very curt and reads as, “You’re an idiot for not knowing this,” which I’m sure reflects her opinion of all of us.

      The problem is: the overwhelming majority of the time, that’s NOT AT ALL what the trainer actually asked. And then she gets mad if you mess up the thing you asked about and she ignored (or didn’t get? I can’t tell). It’s completely infuriating to semi-regularly have to say, “Yes, I [still] know that. I’m asking [same exact thing I already asked in different words.]”

  65. Confused Publisher

    Shout out to Alison and AAM commentariat today.
    I was at London Book Fair on Wednesday and dropped into some of the seminars between meetings. One was titled ‘How to get ahead in publishing’, and one of the panelists referred to this website as an invaluable resource for workplace information – especially for small employers without dedicated HR departments; at that point I nodded so hard my head nearly fell off. When someone asked a follow-up question, she then went on to talk about llama-wrangling and I nearly whooped out loud.
    I had to leave before the end of the session, so I don’t know if Fergus, Wakeen, rice sculptures or teapots made an appearance.

    1. TootsNYC

      I spoke to a bunch of college students (a former college colleague of mine is a professor and brought some students to my city, and arranged me for me to speak to them).

      Once I got through all of the “my specific job specialty” bits, I went on to “general work” stuff, and recommended the site, and the book.

  66. Interviewing Hell

    How necessary are full suits for interviewing? I find it incredibly challenging to find a suit that fits properly because of my body. I am short, fat, and large chested (female). I cannot afford to have pieces individually tailored, especially when many of the potential employers are requires 2-3 in-person interviews. I typically wear a nice dress and coordinating suit jacket. Is that okay?

    An example – last week I had an interview and wore a black dress and a gray jacket. They invited me back this week and I wore the same dress (it is a simple and unremarkable black dress) and a white and black jacket. I’m anticipating they will invite me back next week and I will probably wear a skirt and sweater as I’ve seen enough now to know they’re a little more relaxed in their dress code.

    Thoughts or suggestions?

    1. fposte

      It’s field and region dependent, but I think in most fields what you’re talking about is fine. And unless you’re really out of step with your field, it may not be worth the extra effort and expense of doing suits just to be in step with the formal few.

    2. SoCalHR

      I feel like your state and the company culture really makes a difference here. I’m not a huge fan of suits so I pair blazers with other pieces as well. But I’m in Southern CA so I think it works.

    3. Can't Sit Still

      A cautionary tale about suits: I finally broke down and bought a nice suit for interviews. I had it tailored to fit (I am also short, fat and large chested) and I looked great. I wore it once. I now wear jeans to work every day. Don’t buy a suit if you’ll only need it for interviews.

    4. The Original K.

      I have suits but I often wear dresses with jackets (sometimes without – I have a couple of more formal long-sleeved dresses) for interviews and it’s never been an issue. I’ve never worked anywhere with a formal dress code though.

    5. Lindsay J

      I haven’t needed one. I usually go with black dress pants and an contrasting suit jacket. Usually the jacket is in the light gray family somewhere with a contrasting texture as well.

      It sounds like your outfits are appropriate, and it seems like they must be okay for the field and area you’re in because you’ve made it to the second and third interview. So it doesn’t sound like you need to change anything.

    6. [insert witty user name here]

      As someone who is not so short, fat, and large chested, suits look RIDICULOUS on me. I look far better in a dress with a sweater than a suit jacket. I think what you’ve described sounds perfect. Unless you are in a very formal or conservative industry (high level finance, law, politics), I think there is more possibilities than just suits for us. You can dress it up a little with conservative looking shoes and accessories, and make sure you “look the part” in terms of hair/makeup/nails/etc (not saying any of those have to be elaborate, but make sure your hair is neatly groomed, if you wear makeup, it is well applied and not overdone, and your nails look neat – no chewed off fingernails, bare nails are preferable to chipped polish, etc) (sounds like you probably know this stuff – just putting it out there to say that an overall look > specifically wearing a suit if it doesn’t look good on you)

  67. Fabulous

    I just saw an email this morning from the admin of a sister office talking about how they’re going green and will no longer be purchasing coffee cups for employees. They’ve switched brands of coffee to something less expensive, and as of May 1st will no longer provide artificial sweetener either. I can’t remember if creamer was on the cut list too. Thank GOD it’s not my office because UGH I need my coffee with creamer and 2 splenda.

  68. Rice Teapots and Chocolate Sculptures

    I’m looking for tips for when you’re at BEC with your job. Unfortunately I can’t look for a new job until at least the start of 2019. Basically, I was promised a promotion a year ago by my previous manager who left right after saying it was in the works. I got a new manager in the fall (who I do like) and while I did eventually get the raise that was promised to me, my manager hasn’t been very clear about whether it’s even possible to get a title bump now.

    Normally I would ask what I would need to do for a promotion but since this was promised to me over a year ago I am admittedly impatient about it and don’t want to wait until 2019 (promotions are usually given at the start of the year) . I feel incredibly unappreciated and truthfully don’t think the better title will solve that but I want the public recognition and what was promised to me. I’m still doing my job well and have kept my irritation in check but I am incredibly unmotivated and every time I think about this, I get overwhelmed with how I was screwed over. Any advice? Thanks!

    1. Jennifer

      Probably look for another job? If they’re not gonna, they’re not gonna. Promises mean nothing, especially when someone leaves.

      1. GD

        Just to echo what Jennifer said– I’ve had 4 bosses in the last few years (same manager though)– they all promised big things that never came to fruition after they left. That’s maybe a slightly extreme example since we’ve had crazy turnover but yeah… should have started job searching years ago.

      2. Rice Teapots and Chocolate Sculptures

        While I’ve been keeping an eye out, unfortunately I don’t vest in my retirement for another 10 months and it’s pretty sizable. It would be a huge hit for me to leave before then.

      1. Jerry Vandesic

        Exactly. Start planning for your next job. Do things that will bulk up your resume in ways that will help you get the next job you want. Training, public speaking, mentoring, coaching. Think of the next 10 months as a training regimen for getting your next job.

    2. Graphic Design Bear

      I feel really silly asking, but I’ve seen BEC used a few times on this site but my Google searches come up empty when I try and define it, what does that mean?

      I appreciate the help!

      1. SCAnonibrarian

        Apologies for the cursing and the slur: B!tch Eating Crackers. BEC. Basically when you are so fed up with Jane that all she has to do is sit in the break room and eat crackers on her break and HOW DARE SHE EAT CRACKERS AT ME LIKE THAT SHE’S SO HORRIBLE CANT SHE TELL THE CRUNCHING IS INTOLERABLE!!

        It’s an exaggeration of that relationship-failure point where the other person can’t even breathe without you being exasperated and upset with her.

        1. Graphic Design Bear

          I love it! I’ve definitely been at that point with some people, lol.

          That’s a really useful acronym and I might start using it : D

  69. Can't Sit Still

    My advisor asked if I would be interested in speaking at my commencement, as an “inspirational” speaker. No, not really. I find “inspirational” speakers repellant, generally, or at least the audience reaction to them. The audience is always so grateful that whatever it was didn’t happen to them, but they want to glory in every last gory detail. My advisor was particularly gleeful about how everyone cries during the speeches.

    Clearly, I’m missing something, because to me, inspirational speeches always seem to be about the audience reveling in someone else’s pain, instead of, you know, preventing it from happening again. What am I missing? And why do people feel like this is something that has to be shared at work or school? Get your suffering porn on your own time, if that’s what you’re into. Leave me out of it.

    1. SpiderLadyCEO

      I’m with you. I have yet to hear one that isn’t trauma porn that wasn’t a speech from a sports film. You know, the ones where the head coach tells them all they will beat the other team.

      Maybe you should give one of those. ;)

    2. fposte

      I didn’t know this was a thing, and it sounds pretty gross. (I am not old enough to actually have watched the game show Queen for a Day, but it makes me think of it.) I’m with you on a hard pass there.

    3. TotesMaGoats

      From the other side of the table, I always find it awesome the things my students have overcome or accomplished to make it where they are today. The value is someone else hearing that overcoming whatever barrier and finding success can happen and does happen all the time. Plus the students who haven’t graduated yet and read about what you accomplished may find encouragement from your story.

      I’d consider it a compliment. You don’t have to get gory with details. And certainly, if you don’t want to don’t do it. But the decades of stories I’ve heard from people coming from poverty, drug addiction, abuse, serious health issues, etc and achieving their goals of a degree, yeah I cry. I cry like a baby at graduation, always have. I cry happy tears over people crossing the stage that I don’t even know. The smiles, they get me. The parents (and kids) screaming and cheering from the stands. It why I work in higher ed.

      I digress. Don’t do it if you don’t feel comfortable but those speeches are very impactful.

    4. Casual Dave

      Go and do an untypical speech.

      Eg a sort of variant on ant and grasshopper where after all the hard work / lazing around the ant gets eaten by an aardvark and the grasshopper wins the lottery.

      1. TootsNYC

        yeah, tell jokes.

        Or complain. “Here’s what all the rest of you, the ones without the trauma, are doing wrong”

    5. Millennial Lawyer

      There was a whole commencement speaker contest at my school. A lot of people consider giving a commencement speech a big honor, and are proud to showcase their accomplishments.

      One of the speakers gave a speech about how he overcame his undocumented status and became a lawyer – it was really inspiring, and also drew attention to a political issue that other audience members might not have been aware affected someone they knew, which made it more personal to them. You’re absolutely entitled to NOT want to do that (it’s definitely no one’s responsibility to put themselves out there like that!), but some may see it as a great opportunity to encourage people to action, such as donating to a cause or writing a letter to an elected official.

    6. Temperance

      FWIW, I regularly participate in an initiative to talk to lower-income students/teen parents about careers.

    7. AnotherAlison

      Hmm, I actually find it encouraging and meaningful. I suppose I can understand why you wouldn’t want to do it, depending on your personal story, but I know a lot of people who were in my own personal situation and took a different path because graduating college and supporting themselves didn’t seem possible to them. I believe if someone can do something, others can do it, but they need to know it has been done. That’s the value I see. Not the tears.

    8. WillowSunstar

      It depends on the speech. I’ve heard many inspirational speeches in Toastmasters that weren’t just based on someone’s trauma. Some of them were given by people who had lost a lot of weight. Once speech I heard last year at the intl. contest was from a man who walked over a mile in hot weather to his first job interview because he didn’t have a car at the time, but he got the job. You don’t have to have tons of medical details to compose a good inspirational speech, but a good one should typically show that something was overcome and/or a challenging goal was reached. And yes, you can totally include what you learned about preventing the negative thing from happening again. There are no rules about giving speeches that say you can’t, at least not generally. It’s your speech. Do what you want with it.

  70. Liza

    I’m wondering how people handle interviewing when you’re just starting or switching careers. I’m applying for entry level jobs in my desired field. I have a solid range of qualifications and some vocational training and limited volunteer experience (which I have learned to make the most of in application forms), but my field is renowned for people making sideways moves and so I’m competing against candidates with considerably more hands-on experience. How do I stand out from the crowd when I’m likely to be one of the least experienced interviewees?

    1. Ali G

      OMG are you me? I would be interested in hearing some advice too! I am trying to pivot from “technical lead” in my field to more communications, development, management. I have “experience” in all those things, but they have never been core parts of my jobs, so I’m trying really hard to leverage skills I can bring to the areas I am lacking. But I know I am competing with people who went to school for this, or who have been doing it already.

    2. zora

      Good answers to situational questions.
      Good questions for them.

      Write out stories to answer common situational questions (A time you disagreed with a coworker, a time you had to deal with a difficult customer, etc) and make sure you have solid stories with a beginning, middle and end but short and tight.

      Look up lists of good questions to ask in interviews and think through what is really important to you. Management style? Communication style? Performance review/evaluation process? And have some thoughtful questions prepared. I actually write mine down on like the 3rd or 4th page of my notepad that I will have with me, and then I can glance at it to remember mine when it’s my turn to ask questions.

      The more thoughtful you are about the more nuanced things and soft skills, the more a good manager will want you to work for them.

      1. zora

        As in, since you possibly can’t compete with others on technical skills, make it clear you will be a strong employee who listens, communicates and takes initiative. Those are the things that are harder to teach and in support positions are arguably more valuable.

        1. Liza

          Thank you! I’ll have a think about how I can demonstrate soft skills, and I’m researching questions to ask as we speak. I do have a couple of particular situations that I can draw on for certain things but it’s a little bit hit and miss as to whether they are applicable to those given in the interview, as my experience is so limited, but at least I’m beginning to learn what the common questions are and I can piece together some answers in advance. Thanks again!

  71. Me--Blargh

    So I canceled that out-of-town interview.

    I ran numbers (as best I could) with what it would cost to live there, what they were paying, and what the hiring manager had told me his best estimate was on the 40% employee cost of insurance (not including dental; that was another 60/40 split with the company, and no vision at all). I considered the job’s dead-end status — no upward or lateral trajectory within the company. I would have to leave again to get anywhere. I considered that I’ve been looking in StL since day one, and that none of the non-admin jobs I applied to have responded to me, except the one where the position was in a city three separate people warned me not to move to.

    Did I make a mistake? I don’t think I did. If the job were here, even with the horrible insurance situation I probably would have gone for it because I pay half the amount for housing here and could save escape money. I can’t afford to move so I would have had to have help, and it just wasn’t worth it to move for a dead-end job where I couldn’t even save anything. If there had been a bunch of other jobs to which I could reasonably be hired, then I would have done it, but I’ve been looking for 18 months and all I’m finding are the same shitty jobs as in this city. StL is just a bigger version of Spfd. Oh, and every single one of the decent ones have accounting/finance/invoicing/budgeting/expense spreadsheets, etc. etc. etc. :(

    My gut was just twisted into knots the entire time over it. I’m not afraid to move or take risks. But it just felt wrong. After I made the call, I felt so much better. I did tell him that the insurance split was the deal breaker. I doubt they’ll change anything, however. He was super nice about it.

    Of course, now I feel horrible again. And to top it off, I got rejected again yesterday. Maybe this book is just shit and it’s time to forget about it. #idontwanto

    1. Corky's wife Bonnie

      You didn’t sound jazzed about the job initially and I think you made the right decision, your gut told you it was wrong and you listened to your gut. I am so sorry you’re having such a hard time, but you’ll find something. Good luck, fingers crossed for you!

    2. Nynaeve

      These decisions are so personal, and I think this was a Kobayashi Maru situation–no winning no matter what you did (unless you used cheat codes, like Kirk). In the end, you only make the best decision you can. It’s really normal to doubt yourself during long-term unemployment, but you sound like you had really good reasons for making the decision you did.

      Good luck with your book and ongoing job search. I think of you often and am hoping the best for you (as I know many other AAM commenters are also).

    3. Caledonia

      I did this too when I was job searching. I was offered a job but I really didn’t want it (my heart sunk when I was offered it) and I knew as soon as I got another opportunity I would be gone (which had happened to them before) so I turned it down.

    4. Me--Blargh

      Thanks all.

      I probably would have taken it if offered, if the insurance had been covered. But to go from Exjob, where I had medical, dental, AND vision and paid maybe $40 a month to paying $200 a month on the same salary, with my housing cost doubling on top of that, just was not doable. I was so afraid I’d just trade getting stuck in one place for getting stuck in another only twice as expensive. And not even the expensive place I’d like to get stuck in!!!