open thread – June 22-23, 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.

{ 1,473 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Ree

    I know there are often(OFTEN) questions on Open Thread about working remotely/finding remote work, so apologies for what seems to be a frequent ask…

    My question/advice seeking is:
    I am specifically ONLY looking for remote work. I’m two classes away from finishing my bachelors degree at Western Governors University – which, as a side note, I will FOREVER be grateful to the AAM community for suggesting this school, it has been amazing! I started in October 2016 with 12 transfer credits and will be done will my WHOLE degree in July 2018! I’ve literally never been so proud of myself!
    So, thanks to being able to complete my degree remotely(as well as my husband’s job likely relocating us in the next year or so) I now should/need/want to work remotely too!
    I have a background in project management and my degree is in education(but not as a licensed teacher) which coincides well with HR, training, training management and project management.
    I clearly state in my cover letter that I completed my degree remotely and am seeking fully/mostly remote work and I’m also only applying for jobs that are remote – is there anything else I can do? I expect that the positions I’ve been applying for are super competitive, but am hoping for some AAM gems of wisdom!

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      FlexJobs is worth the money IMO. They curate and validate job listings for remote work.

      Congrats on your degree!

      Reply
    2. rageismycaffeine

      I don’t have any suggestions, but I did want to congratulate you on your degree, that is wonderful! You SHOULD be proud!

      Reply
    3. WGUmaybe?

      Which degree did you get? I am considering their Instructional Design masters but don’t want to work in schools.

      Reply
      1. Ree

        So I actually started out in their K-8 Elementary Education program, but due to timing of completing my degree(I calculated out when I would finish at my current pace after a year), I knew that I would likely move before my demonstration teaching would begin, so I asked to be switched to their Educational Studies program(it’s not listed on the website but it’s an option for already enrolled students) which is a non-licensure program.
        From what I’ve seen in job listings for private sector positions, if you want to design course material for training or schools(as in, create the content but not work for a school) Instructional Design experience or a degree would be perfect.
        I love how WGU is setup – you teach yourself the curriculum and then you take a cumulative test or complete a project(or five, in some classes) or do both to prove you know the material.
        The key is being a good test taker, people who aren’t really struggle with the format at WGU. Also if they aren’t self motivated, because while there are instructors to help you, there are NO timelines to follow, you get your work done at your own pace(I’m not sure what the Masters side is, but the Bachelors side is 12 credits per 6 month term minimum completion or you get placed on academic probabtion)
        There’s some post graduation job help/job board, but the Alumni network isn’t like a state college(based on what I’ve seen from my husband’s side as a traditional state college grad), but I was able to join the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society and that’s good for networking as well.
        I can answer any other questions you might have that are more specific too!

        Reply
      2. DizzyFog

        I have a masters in instructional design and work 100% remote at a job I found via FlexJobs. :) If you have an interest in creating training, go for the masters and really learn to do it well. You can have a great career in instructional design.

        Reply
        1. DizzyFog

          Adding because I hit Submit too soon and forgot to mention – I’ve been working as an instructional designer for 20 years and I’ve never worked in a school. I worked for a college once, but I was supporting professors rather than working with students. I’ve also worked in healthcare, for a social-service non-profit, for the military, and various corporate industries. There are a lot of options out there!

          Reply
        2. WGUmaybe?

          Thank you! This is so encouraging to me. I’ve taught adult education courses in a variety of settings for 12 years, and creating new teaching strategies is one of my favorite parts, so as I move to a phase of my life where I want more full-time work, Instructional Design is very appealing.

          Reply
    4. Doodle

      Aside to Ree: would you be willing to share how you did the education bachelors at WGU without licensure? That’s what I’d be looking to do, but I thought all of their BA/BS options were only offered with the license. Thanks in advance — I’ve looked at this for a long time and am hoping to finally make the jump.

      Reply
      1. Ree

        I started in the Elementary Education degree with licensure and then after a year I asked to be moved to the Educational Studies degree(without licensure) – that Bachelor’s degree isn’t listed as something you can enroll in publicly(it is in the Student Handbook), but it is an option if you’re a current student(hope that makes sense) They have that degree in place for those who change their minds about becoming a teacher or if anyone fails demonstration teaching. It basically swaps the demonstration teaching for 5 additional classes that are setup like a masters thesis/capstone project.

        Reply
        1. Doodle

          That’s awesome, thank you so much! Didn’t realize that existed, and it sounds like that would work for me.

          Reply
    5. Rachel

      oh man I wish I could leave you the name of my company…we’re a training company and we’re constantly looking for new instructional designers and training specialists. And half our staff are remote contractors…
      I’ll just say this: there are lots of great training and change management companies in the Washington DC area…

      Reply
      1. The Grammarian

        Also, look for management consulting jobs. Some are part remote, part travel, or all remote. Change management can include training, which requires instructional design knowledge.

        Reply
      2. Database Developer Dude

        Rachel, and Ree,

        Perhaps the two of you could use Alison as a go-between if the issue is not broadcasting this on the comment thread?

        Alison,
        Is this something you’d be willing to do on a case-by-case basis?

        Reply
    6. Triplestep

      Higheredjobs dot com allows you to run a search that returns only remote jobs. Not sure if your education degree would align with those, but I do see things on there that seem like they’d appeal to trainers – not just teachers/professors.

      Reply
        1. Triplestep

          I stumbled on it years ago – I do not work in higher ed, but I guess for folks who do, it’s one of the go-to sites. But they also list categories that appeal to me (design and construction management) and lots of administrative jobs, so you don’t have to be in higher ed to find something there.

          Reply
      1. Kate Daniels

        Thank you so much for this recommendation! I’ve been casually on the lookout for remote work and the jobs listed on this site are so much more suited to my background than the ones listed on other websites that tend to have more of a tech focus.

        (Thank you also for asking this question, Ree! I was going to ask something similar today, but you beat me to it and even managed to be the first comment.)

        Reply
        1. Triplestep

          You are very welcome! Their search engine is really good compared to many, and – even though I do not have the expertise in areas for which they post remote jobs – I was still impressed that you can filter on that one option. So many search engines lack this.

          Reply
    7. Sue Donym

      VirtualVocations is another job site that focuses on remote or telecommuting jobs. I’ve been browsing the listings but haven’t signed up for the paid version though, does anyone have experience with this site?

      Reply
  2. FaintlyMacabre

    Two questions:

    I interviewed for a job in April, but didn’t get it. (I had previously applied for and interviewed for the position about two years ago, but the spot wasn’t filled.) On the day that I got the rejection notice, I got a response to my thank you letter from one of the people I interviewed with, saying that she would be leaving soon and to keep an eye open for the position to open up again. And now it has. I will reapply, and my understanding is that I can just resubmit my materials. Do I put a line in the cover letter acknowledging that I met with these people two months ago?

    For another job, in the ad they put “no phone calls”, but I’m confused about if it is possible to work remotely. A few things in the ad make it seem possible, but it is never explicitly stated. Can I email the address given for where to send the resume and ask, or does “no phone calls” mean no questions? I doubt I would move for the job, so it would be a mutual waste of time to apply if it can’t be done remotely.

    Reply
    1. 1700

      I think no phone calls would be if you were essentially wasting their time by not following basic instructions, but seeing as you were told to apply by someone you previously interviewed with, have previously interviewed and can’t undertake the work unless you’re clear it’s flexible, it seems like you can call or email to ask these very specific things

      Reply
      1. FaintlyMacabre

        The two questions are about two seperate jobs, I guess that was unclear. I’ve never applied before with the people who said “no phone calls.”

        Reply
    2. The New Wanderer

      For the second job, I would assume “no phone calls” means no questions as a general rule because they know no one is calling unless they have questions or want to jump the queue somehow. They can’t really put “no emails” if that’s the method for applying…

      I think you can either put in your email or cover letter (if they are different) that you are open to remote work, or something like “I am not looking to relocate but would excel at this position in a remote capacity because of {reasons}.”

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        No phone calls really could go “No phone calls with questions answered in the ad” or “No phone calls, I don’t care how good your question is, I already talked to 8 clueless people today.”

        Reply
    3. Anonymosity

      For your first question, yes. “In March 20xx, I met with Natasha and Wanda regarding this position. Although ultimately I was not selected, my interest in joining the Avengers remains strong,” or something to that effect. Even if Natasha is leaving, if she and Wanda thought you’d be a strong candidate, Commander Hill could still ask them about your previous interview and they could mention that.

      Reply
    4. Bea

      I’m baffled at the misunderstanding of no phone calls.

      It means don’t call. Use the email address provided for all correspondence. It’s because they can answer at their convenience. You certainly can ask questions but don’t call them to do so!

      Reply
    5. ..Kat..

      Wait until they contact you for an interview and ask about remote work possibilities then if you would only want this job as a work-remotely job. If this is not a deal breaker, wait to ask until you interview (and wow them!).

      Reply
  3. Alternative Person

    I have had a week.

    The Super Part Timer extended her break, meaning it starts this week rather than next it meaning we’re picking up her slack already. I already got some of it today via getting one of her clients who doesn’t particularly like me because I make said client take notes (I know).

    My manager is possibly engaging in some punitive passive aggression because I’m tentatively planning to drop some hours in the near future (I’m potentially going to work at a better place part time). I know it sucks for him, because the senior managers don’t value skilled staff, let alone receptionists, but well, given how I’ve been treated recently he can’t be surprised. I can’t be sure because he’s one of those best not to ascribe malice to what might be thoughtlessness types but still.

    My Training leader sent me a very blunt e-mail basically laying out a schedule (I’m off course because my manager won’t authorize time/clients for the training practicums which she knows), and backhandedly saying I will have to shell out for the course again (rest assured, I won’t be using this training company again if that ends up being the result), if I don’t start meeting deadlines but, things going well, I will be back on track by the end of July. I wish she had contacted me first because now I’m all spiteful and I don’t want to do work. I’ll be over it tomorrow, but it stings. I’m already mad enough at myself for being off schedule, I don’t need it rubbing in.

    Idiot co-worker managed to get completely lost on his way to the satellite office, irritating one of the pushier clients. I know he doesn’t go there often but he should know better. He said at the main office earlier, he wasn’t sure of the way, he should have double, triple checked before he left (we have step by step picture directions available on the network). I’m halfway between him not checking the directions, and a deliberate attempt to not be sent to the satellite office. I hope the client forgives him because if they don’t, I might have to pick up that work screwing my own schedule over even further.

    Commiserations to those who had weeks like mine.

    Reply
    1. rageismycaffeine

      I swear there must be something in the stars, or the phase of the moon, or something because *everyone* I know has had A Week.

      I also commiserate with everyone in the same boat, and with you. I will raise my glass to you when I have my “I made it to Friday” drink tonight.

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        My week actually involved my saying “I can take on Urgent Project A and get it done by deadline, possibly a day earlier, but I can’t do that and Urgent Project B by that deadline” and my boss saying “Okay, we’ll reassign B.”

        But for said boss, it involved someone casually mentioning that they weren’t almost finished, or even started, with said Project A because they had gone on vacation instead and I guess hadn’t thought to check in about that? So he had a Week.

        Reply
    2. 13 days left @ toxic job

      I’ve heard the solstice highlights what’s out of whack in your life (if you believe in astrology) so maybe that’s it. I found out the other coworker at my level is also quitting his job, which means my office is going to be down two senior employees (him and me) by mid-July. We’ve both been treated so badly at this job I have the naive hope it will make our boss take a reckoning of his behavior, but frankly I doubt it.

      Reply
      1. Alternative Person

        That’s an interesting thought. I’m not so into Astrology but it’s also nice to think the universe is telling me I’m doing the right thing by working to get out of my current main job.

        Hope things get better for you soon.

        Reply
      2. Anonymosity

        I did a thing on Solstice Morn to remind the universe of what needs to be IN whack and yes I included job shit in that.

        *shakes fist at universe and 13 days’ crappy boss*

        Reply
        1. 13 days left @ toxic job

          ooh setting intentions for what should go well is a good idea. Maybe I’ll burn a piece of paper that says ‘no micromanagers, no tantrums, no screaming in the workplace’ and put that out in the universe.

          Reply
      3. SaraV

        I think most people have heard also how the full moon seems to affect some people in their jobs? ER’s supposedly get way busier, the number of difficult customers increases for retail and food service, etc. So, summer solstice craziness doesn’t surprise me.

        Reply
      4. Monkey Herder

        I also have 13 days left @a toxic job!

        I have spent a large part of this week muttering ‘not my circus, not my monkeys’…

        Onwards and upwards :)

        Reply
    3. OhGee

      I had an actual hell week that involved a coworker who is going through stuff accusing me and my two teammates of terrible behavior toward him, in front of the whole staff. Commiseration indeed.

      Reply
  4. The Tin Man

    First of all, thank you to everyone last week who had recommendations on my difficulty in hearing people with accents on conference calls.

    I basically need to vent and someone to tell me a variation of “Not your circus, not your monkeys.”

    I have a coworker, Randy, who people don’t take seriously. I work in a manufacturing-style environment in a business operations role. He does the scheduling. It isn’t a complicated job but he works very hard and takes his work seriously which is critically important in that customer-focused role. I’ve cover his job sometimes when he’s out and I can’t stand it.

    Problem is, Randy is socially awkward. It’s something that is a bit hard to put a finger on but he just seems to be on a slightly different wavelength from everyone else. Ours is an atmosphere with a decent amount of lightly giving each other a hard time. He will occasionally try to do that and it falls completely flat. Other employees have made comments to indicate they don’t take him seriously. In a one-on-one setting I usually say something like “I get that but he works very hard and takes his job seriously. I know I certainly wouldn’t do as well as him in that job day-in and day-out.” The other person typically agrees and stops at that point. I was also glad that grandboss put a quick stop to it when people started piling on Randy in a meeting.

    With all this as a background, I know he wants to take on more responsibility. I have a hard time picturing that happen here because it would be hard for him to change perception and have people take him seriously.

    I need someone to remind me there is no way to diplomatically say “People here don’t take you seriously, if you want to take on more responsibility you should find another job” to someone I am not close to. I even have doubts about how he would do with more complex responsibilities so I should count myself among those who don’t take him seriously. That said, he’s not a bad person and deserves a chance to grow and prove people (including me) wrong.

    Reply
    1. Mimmy

      No advice on your question this week, but I too have difficulty with hearing people with accents, so thanks for bring this up – I will go definitely check out last week’s thread.

      Reply
    2. KR

      Not sure about the rest, but I know for me it is really hard to give people a hard time jokingly. I think it’s because I’m kind of a socially awkward and nervous people pleaser. There are very few people I can joke with like that because I’m terrified that the joke will fall flat like it usually does and then the person might be offended. Is he good at his job? If he is I might try to impress upon your coworkers that just because someone doesn’t joke around as well as they do doesn’t mean they aren’t deserving of respect professionally.

      Reply
      1. The Tin Man

        I appreciate the input, I may have over-emphasized the joking around because it was my example. It is more than that but it was the most concrete thing I could think of. I think it is big on my mind because I think he is just not the type to do that and it just felt like he did it just because he hears the other people do it. I’m not big on the teasing either so I don’t usually partake.

        Reply
    3. Catalin

      This may not be your circus, but you might be feeding the monkeys. When people doubt him, just tell them he’s great at his job. No need to reinforce their feelings of awkwardness.
      Bob: Ugh, that Randy, right?
      You: You know what? He’s great at his job.
      Bob: he’s just so weird
      You: Still great at his job.
      Bob changes subject because there’s no conversation to be had here.

      End result? Everyone consistently hears, “Randy is good at his job.” No comma, no qualifications. Full Stop.

      Also, Randy knows he’s awkward. If you want this to be a place where he can get more responsibility/advance, do your best to make it a place like that. It sounds like you have a good head start on it (and thank you for caring about the odd ducks). Maybe kick your efforts up just a bit, that’s all.

      (Sincere apologies if this is mean in any way; I’m a bit socially under-built. I’m really giving you a high five.)

      Reply
      1. The Tin Man

        Not too harsh, you make a good point and I agree that in acknowledging that my prefacing a defense of Randy with “I get it” it can feed the monkeys.

        When engaging with someone, especially when I am contradicting them, I tend to lead with agreement and then make my point. It can be effective at times but in this case it doesn’t matter that I agree and Randy can drive me crazy. What matters is that I am sticking up for someone and trying to nip a toxic situation in the bud. Adding toxicity doesn’t ever help that.

        High five! I’m also socially off at times and am pretty constantly worried that people just tolerate me and talk about me when I’m not there and that I don’t mesh with them as well as I think I do. Hearing them talk about Randy feeds that paranoia.

        Reply
      2. Jules the Third

        Yeah, not your circus, but Catalin’s got great advice on how not to feed the monkeys.

        To give him any advice, you’d really have to get a lot deeper into his skills / qualifications / goals / ambitions than you are. You can point him to resources that you have used (like, say, AAM); I know people recommend Toastmasters a lot for people struggling with communication. In general, this kind of coaching is for good managers or *maybe* team leads to do, or good friends.

        And to KR’s point – I *hate* environments full of ‘jokingly giving people a hard time’. It’s So Bro, and you’re turning off / losing good people because of it. I also work in manufacturing / production (parts procurement), but our floor has a diverse, skilled workforce (computer repair and upgrade). They joke, but positively – like ‘hey, you Eagles superfan, congrats on that Superbowl win’ not ‘Oh, those Eagles got lucky.’ Management invests in training and coaching. People who are good at their jobs stay and grow instead of leaving for greener pastures.

        I think you’re not a manager, so you have limited ability to guide culture, but ‘joking hard time’ is *really* easy to become ‘harassment’ of people who don’t quite fit. Like Randy.

        Reply
        1. The Tin Man

          Y’all are the best. I love that here people can give truly constructive criticism.

          Jules, you have a great point. The only teasing I do is with people I am friends with. That’s why I don’t engage in it at work except in extremely generic ways. And I am going to become more self-aware to see if I actually engage in that behavior more than I think I do. Recently we have a new hire that I think one plant manager has gone too far teasing. Even if the new guy lets it roll off it’s not a good look. New Guy does a great job and I am clear and concise in giving him that feedback, no teasing. I don’t know him well enough to tease. I would have hated if I were treated like he has been when I started, even if it is “good natured”. I was convinced he knew the guy teasing him beforehand but no, he did not.

          As you said I’m not a manager but I will take this to heart and, while I don’t think I engage much in this culture while still being accepted, I will step up my self-awareness game and be an example of how I would like things to be – a place where coworkers can have fun but also work hard and give sincere feedback.

          My default nature is often as a follower, hence my saying I do some generic joking around to fit in. I will be more confident in acting like myself to shape the culture, not shaping myself to act like the culture.

          Reply
    4. June

      That’s great you want to mentor Randy!
      Few questions that might help –
      1. Could he learn more soft skills at first (software, time management, process improvement, etc.) and then later on, leadership? Sometimes folks need to be seen as an expert to get the respect they deserve. I know, folks should respect him for his work ethics but maybe this will change their perception of him.
      2. Could he read leadership books or attend classes? Since you are his co-worker, maybe start a lunch time book club with you and Randy. Maybe Randy will see some of his flaws and start changing.
      I hope this helps!

      Reply
      1. The Tin Man

        1. Soft skills are definitely in need of improvement. One big thing I’ve noticed is that he seems to prioritize being busy over being efficient. I have offered ways to improve his process but he pretty swiftly shut it down. It feels like he sees his job on a very granular level (i.e. “Fill out this, click on that, send this to that person”) and not so much on the big picture level. He also acts much more knowledgeable about our product/process than he is. That seems a big thing that rubs people, especially plant managers, the wrong way. Our boss has tried to get him more involved in seeing the field but he nature of his position makes that difficult (though does not absolve my boss of responsibility to make that happen).

        2. I think something like that could help shift his mindset. I am in a different office so I couldn’t really do a lunchtime book club. On top of that, I don’t feel I know him well enough to do that. I am also selfish and protective of my lunchtime. Something along the lines of even recommending a book is food for thought, though (lunch pun not intended).

        Reply
    5. Jadelyn

      I’m not clear from you post – does Randy report to you? Because if not, that’s a conversation his manager should be having with him, and it’s definitely not your circus or monkeys.

      Reply
      1. The Tin Man

        Nope, Randy does not report to me. We have the same boss and 95% different duties. Thus why I know the answer already.

        Reply
    6. LCL

      Schedulers tend to be seen as socially awkward because they are. The job makes us that way. You are exactly right, he is on a slightly different wavelength than everyone else. The job is a little disorienting because to be a good scheduler you have to become unstuck in time. You are always looking forward to future schedules, and backwards to see what was done in the past, and you lose track of what day it is exactly. And, because the work schedule greatly affects people’s lives, you have way more indirect power over workers’ lives than you want. And if you have to deny days off so they can’t do something they want, you are the enemy, even though denying vac is the worst part of the job and the part that will make you lose sleep. And when you do it long enough you can become really jaded by the short notice requests.

      So, you want to help your scheduler become a little more in synch with your group? Help find or train him on duties that are concrete. For me that is delivering vehicles for service and repair. For you in a manufacturing environment, I’m sure you can find something hands on. Maybe start with machine inspections, or stocking supplies, or?

      Reply
      1. The Tin Man

        Ah, I was not clear. He schedules orders for customers, not people shifts and work calendars.

        That doesn’t erase your suggestion of course. I think him having time in the field to see the operations would help with some of it. As I said in another response some of the awkward is him acting far more knowledgeable about our manufacturing process than he really is. This can especially rankle the plant managers.

        I think some responsibilities to plug him into the day-to-day of the operation would help; he is a bit insulated in our corporate office. Step 1 would be finding a way to make him more efficient at his job so he has more time in the day to take new responsibilities. Unfortunately, being in the corporate office makes it hard for him to spend time in the field at any of our 10 sites that he supports.

        Reply
        1. LCL

          There is probably at least one forward thinking manager at one of the remote sites that would welcome the chance to have one of the ‘office people’ come and learn more about how all the parts fit together. All of this is really on your boss. Does Randy actually talk to the customers, or just write the production schedules?

          Reply
          1. The Tin Man

            Randy talks with the customers. He doesn’t handle anything on the sales side, they just tell him “We need 500 of widget A at 7:00AM tomorrow”. If it looks like one plant is getting over-ordered he works with the plant managers (and sometimes sales) to make sure all orders can be filled.

            I agree that much of this is on our boss. I like boss a lot but this is a weakness. He is very busy so if you don’t advocate for yourself professional development can fall by the wayside. Plus side is he has always enthusiastically supported me when I have advocated for myself.

            Reply
            1. LCL

              That’s why Randy is such a PITA to the plant people. To do what he does requires knowledge of his area an inch deep and a mile wide. Or centimeter deep and kilometer wide. The customers will ask questions of him, and he has to come up with an answer. Again, this is on management to get Randy and a plant person to work together.

              Reply
          2. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

            Back when I was a Material Cost Planner at a manufacturing plant, there was nothing I loved more than when I had the opportunity to go on the floor and do some assembly or pick products using our crane system. There was something about practical experience with the services and products my position supported that made me much more confident in and enthusiastic about my job, and I’ve carried it forward into my new position as well by asking for (and getting!) similar training here.

            Reply
    7. KaleighImSorry

      I’m not a fan of giving people a hard time, even jokingly. To me it is kind of like tickling — not everyone is ticklish, not everyone wants to be touched, and not every joker/tickler means well/knows when to stop.

      While I do believe that shared adversity can bind people together, I don’t think it should be created, and joking about someone who struggles with joking is punching down.

      You have a mean spirited office, even if they are mostly nice people. They are mostly nice people EXCEPT to Randy.

      Reply
    8. M

      Some people just don’t know how to playfully bust someone’s chops and accidentally default to unfunny or even mean without realizing it.

      Example: in an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 9, they had to do a roast. One of the drag queens was super sweet and somewhat naive and not on the same comedic level as the others. So, when she got up there, her jokes were more just really straight forward mean comments that she tried to say in a different tone, and it fell flat. The roastee had thick skin, so she wasn’t offended by the statements. Others had the same theme in their jokes (specific things about her appearance, about her personal life) that were brought up at least once by each person, but the delivery was worlds different. The queen chalked it up to the fact she’s just too nice and knows she isnt funny so she tried too hard and landed on her face.

      That could be what’s happening here. He could be trying to emulate the coworkers and miss where something turns from a lighthearted joke with understanding to at best something unfunny and at worst mean. IDK what to do to fix that or stop it, and I’m not sure how much this is part of why people don’t take him seriously, so i dont have any advice other than he just probably isn’t reading the room or trying too hard to fit in.

      Reply
  5. Peaches

    I posted last week about wanting to talk to my boss about transitioning my role from sales support to more admin work.

    Well, I met with my boss Monday, and laid out all of my thoughts. He basically asked that I please stick with it through the end of 2018, and he will ensure things improve. I want to believe him because I know he cares about my happiness, but I just can’t see things changing (i.e., the antiquated system I have to work on every day, with no end in sight of improvements). He insisted though that his vision for my position was “what I was describing to [him] that I wanted to do.” He did say, though, that if I still didn’t like what I was doing down the road, we would find something else for me to do that makes me happy, and is beneficial to the company. I was honest and open with him and told him I was afraid if at some point I didn’t want to do what I was doing now, I was afraid he wouldn’t want me working here at all. He laughed out loud and said that would NEVER happen, and that everyone here loves me and would be devastated to see me go.

    So, even though I’m not sure I made TOO much headway at the moment, at least he knows how I feel, and I know that there is an opportunity to do something else here at some point.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      He basically asked that I please stick with it through the end of 2018, and he will ensure things improve. I want to believe him because I know he cares about my happiness, but I just can’t see things changing

      If he really can ensure that, get him to get it in writing.

      Reply
    2. CustServGirl

      It sounds like he really does value you as an employee! I hope thin gs improve as much as they can despite the restraints, and that he makes you feel more valued and that down the road you can develop a position or transition into a role that is a better fit for you.

      Hang in there!

      Reply
      1. Anon for now

        Hang in there, but also start getting things together for a job search. Brush up your resume/cover letter and start looking at job postings. If you see the perfect job, apply and get some practice interviewing again (or even possibly a job offer). If you get a great job offer then you can tell your boss to transition you or you take the new job. If the job doesn’t change by the end of the year, kick the job search into high gear.

        Reply
    3. .

      idk… to me it feels like stringing you along (and I know there is probably me projecting things) but really… 6 months is a long time to stick it out for a very vague promise/future. I’d at least update my resume and keep an eye out for potential jobs more in line with the direction you wanna go. If not just for the feeling of getting somewhere and doing something to change the position you’re in right now, cause your boss sure won’t.

      Reply
    4. Nita

      Ahh, I don’t know… I almost left my job over being pigeon-holed into a certain role, and when I was trying to hand my boss my resignation I was told this would change. Nope. I mean, management honestly tried to give me the experience I wanted, but between my current work taking 100% of my time, my billing rate being too high for doing some of this work (the plan is for someone more entry-level to cover it), and new projects getting snapped up by others who were more familiar with the process, it never happened. Promises are great, but they don’t necessarily materialize. Still here and overall reasonably happy – the flex time is to die for – but of course, that was a disappointment.

      Reply
    5. Artemesia

      Start your job search now. His is the classic way to keep kicking the can down the road. No, he doesn’t care about you; he would cut you lose in a heartbeat if it helped him. He won’t remember this vague promise come 2019. Start your job search on the QT and since you don’t need to move, you can wait until something worth moving for comes along. At worst you will see what options you are likely to have which helps either sucking it up where you are, or moving on. He has shined you off. Start looking out for yourself. Hope you find something that lets you do what you want to do. But don’t suffer through half the year and then discover it is just the same in 2019 as it likely will be. It would be different if he said ‘we can transition you to XYZ in September.’ He didn’t he said ‘by and by, maybe, we’ll check and see, just keep doing what you are doing, don’t bother me.’

      Reply
      1. Peaches

        There are a few reasons why I’m having a difficult time leaving. One, it’s an 8 minute drive from home. This gives me the flexibility to go home for lunch every day. Two, I can flex my hours. If I want to take a half day on a Friday, I can just work 9 hour days Mon-Thurs. Three (and perhaps most importantly) I anticipate being pregnant within the next year, and maternity leave/benefits are great here.

        Reply
        1. WellRed

          Well, then I hope you find a way to like sales because I don’t think this situation will change. Did he give you specifics about why it can’t be done now and about what, exactly, he envisions 6 months from now?

          Reply
        2. neverjaunty

          But none of this explains why you should believe his vague assurances. If the benefits of working here are all that, accept that they likely aren’t going to change. Vague assurances that things will in some way be better in six months are vaporware.

          Reply
  6. not my regular name

    Tips for how to best talk to your boss about not having enough work to do when you’re still relatively new and learning?

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      If you’re new, that’s actually a great time to bring it up. I think you can say something along the lines of “I’m still figuring out how things work in the office and what my role is exactly. I’ve done X, Y, and Z since I’ve been here, but I’m curious if there are other things you want me to do. Am I structuring my day right?”

      Reply
    2. ExcelJedi

      I think that’s the easiest time for that! Usually managers give you a smaller workload to start so you can learn things, so you can just say, “I feel really comfortable with what I have on my plate right now, and I think we can ramp up my responsibilities.”

      It might not work if your job has a set timeline for training (like some customer service jobs), but other than that it’s worked for me in the past.

      Reply
    3. Mickey Q

      Whenever I’ve done this I’m gotten boring busy work that nobody else wants to do. Then it becomes a permanent part of my job description. It’s better if you can tell them what you want to do.

      Reply
  7. Delicate Little Flower?

    I have a manager who is just awful. She yells at people, swears at people, and admonishes people about mistakes in front of other coworkers – sometimes in front of people who aren’t even involved on her “team.” The client we have makes crazy demands and it’s super hard to keep up with everything. Instead of working with us (team of 5) to find out how to best distribute the tasks, my manager just assigns things randomly and gives vague deadlines. Of course nothing is completed by her imaginary deadline and she flips out. I had a closed door meeting with her earlier this week and she was trying to figure out how to phrase something. She said she was annoyed that she couldn’t “say what she wanted” because she was no longer allowed to speak to me “like an adult” because she was afraid I would cry. This was a reference to the meeting we had last week where I had a very negative reaction to her aggressively asking “What the f*ck happened?” when discussing an issue with a project I’m working on.

    She’s been my manager for 8 months. I started therapy a few months ago and I’ve been having health issues that my doctor is having trouble diagnosing (I’m assuming both are related to her “management style”). A team member tried to switch team but my boss’ boss (who thinks my manager is “great” – ???) denied the request. The person then went to HR and even they denied the request. Multiple complaints have been filed against my manager and no one seems to care.

    I’ve been job searching but it’s been so hard! I want to just quit and be done with it! My boyfriend said he would be really mad if I quit without another job lined up, which I completely understand, but I’m legit going crazy. I feel nauseous driving to work and often cry during my commute just thinking about what fun conversation I’ll get to be involved in.

    Is it okay to just quit? How do I make my boyfriend understand where I’m coming from? He doesn’t like his job either, but I’m literally getting yelled at every day for really minor things and I’m also worried about my health issues.

    Reply
    1. Middle School Teacher

      I think you can. Could you temp or work retail while you job search? At least it’s something.

      Reply
      1. Hamburke

        I was so unhappy with my previous job. I interviewed directly with several companies that weren’t a very good fit (I actually taught one of the interviewers how to automate the position away while in the interview) and then interviewed with a temp agency specializing in accounting support – a field I wanted to get into – while still working. I apparently did very well in the interview (dispite getting lost on my way in and being late) they had a long term position for me within a week. I had a 2 day Gap in employment that I requested. It’s been 10 months, I’ve been hired on there as an employee and done very well there. If I didn’t like the placement, I could have told the temp agency that it wasn’t what I was looking for and found another placement.

        This is definitely something that easier to do in some fields, particularly administrative or support positions, rather than others. OP – I’m not sure what field you’re in but it’s worth a look. Freelance is another option.

        Reply
    2. Anonymous Educator

      Is it money your boyfriend’s worried about with you quitting without having another job lined up? Like you two couldn’t pay rent? If so, could you temp in the meantime?

      Reply
    3. Another Person

      Well, it’s not like you’ll get a good reference from her. If she’s only been your boss for 8 months it doesn’t matter.

      I say take care of your health first. You can always get a temp job if you need money.

      Reply
    4. The Original K.

      Is your boyfriend worried about supporting you financially if you quit? If so, could you and he lay out a plan to ensure that you’ll be OK financially for x amount of time? If you and he are intertwined in that way, I do think it makes sense for it to be a discussion between you because losing your income affects him too.

      Reply
    5. Trout 'Waver

      It’s easier to find a job when you currently have one. But if it’s affecting your health, you need to protect yourself first. And honestly, if your boyfriend isn’t on team you, you need a new boyfriend.

      If you share a household with your boyfriend, sit him down and go over how you two would pay for everything if you didn’t work for 1 month, 3 months, or longer, depending on your circumstances.

      If you don’t share a household, he has no standing to say anything critical about how your manage your job, finances, and health.

      Reply
      1. The New Wanderer

        Generally speaking, you shouldn’t need to start therapy and have multiple doctor visits for escalating health issues just to survive a job (for people without preexisting conditions). Your boyfriend may not like his job either but is he dealing with that himself? Would he?

        If you need the income and more importantly the insurance, hang on a bit longer but job search like your life depends on it. If it helps your sanity, talk to the other team members and see if they’d be willing to go up the chain as a group to discuss your manager’s treatment of all of you. Individual complaints are being ignored, but maybe presented with a united front the upper management might take you seriously. Don’t stay in the current job much longer if there’s no relief in sight.

        Reply
      2. Forking Great Username

        Well, it’s possible for her boyfriend to be on her team and not support her quitting her job if they can’t realistically pay their bills without her income, unless she has a significant amount saved up. I don’t think it’s fair to jump straight to “you need a new boyfriend.”

        Reply
        1. Trout 'Waver

          Well, I did post “if your boyfriend isn’t on team you, you need a new boyfriend” rather than “if your boyfriend isn’t on board with you quitting, you need a new boyfriend.”

          Reply
        2. Ellie

          Oh, I do. Any boyfriend who can see she’s in bad shape because of a job and not want to help/prioritizes the job is no boyfriend worth having.

          Reply
          1. Forking Great Username

            I feel like you’re purposely ignoring half of what I said. If he is prioritizing them having a place to live, then yeah, I get it. Sometimes you have to stick it out a miserable job while searching for a new one because YOU are team you and don’t want to be homeless.

            Reply
    6. The Tin Man

      Whether it is okay to just quit depends on a lot of things, including your savings. Well it is always okay to care for your health, but it is a calculated risk. I know full well the oppressive job can be so draining that you have nothing left in the tank to thoroughly job search when you get home at night or on the weekends. How quickly do you think you could get temp work or shift work that could be would help pay some bills while you search for a job more in line with your career goals? I’m a big fan of the “Get out and get temp work to fill the gap and stem the bleeding” strategy. I see it as a middle road from sticking it out in a bad situation and quitting with no backup.

      Reply
      1. Jules the Third

        +1000 Look at your savings, etc and talk over the whole issue with your boyfriend. He may be more comfortable with it if you can tell him a reasonable plan (eg,
        – I’ve got 2mo rent / food / utilities $$
        – I’ll defer any other spending
        – I’ll spend at least x hrs / week job hunting
        – If I don’t get a Career Job in 4 weeks, I’ll start Side Job to bring in money until I find Career Job)
        than if you’re talking about quitting while you’re crying on his shoulder.

        In the end, you have to balance the needs of your mind (not getting yelled at) and your body (having rent / food). A chunk of savings helps that a lot.

        On the plus side, record low unemployment right now. Good luck with the hunt. No one deserves a boss like this. Stony non-engagement may help with her.

        Reply
      2. Safetykats

        And your healthcare. Is your healthcare through your correct job? They will have to offer you COBRA, but it is insanely expensive. Will you be able to keep seeing your therapist if you’re j T working at all?

        Reply
    7. Ambpersand

      Do you have any savings you could live off of for a few months if your job search took a while? Or would you be willing/able to work part time (retail, freelance, anything?) until you could find something full time? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, I would quit. That sounds like behavior that not only isn’t going to change, but is likely to get worse and continue to impact your mental health. And if your mental health isn’t great, your job search is probably going to suffer. I’m not a risk taker or a gambler, but if I were in your shoes- I would quit.

      As for making your boyfriend understand, you might not be able to if he doesn’t understand the full scope of things. But this might be one of those decisions you have to make for the betterment of yourself, even if he doesn’t get it.

      Reply
    8. I See Real People

      I’ve been in your shoes and it is so awful! You’re not being delicate or sensitive…Being abused at work really takes its toll on a person’s health! I hope you find something soon. I wonder if you could get steady work through a temp agency while looking for a permanent place? At this point, anything else would be better for you.

      Reply
    9. DataGirl

      I did this. My last job was a psychological nightmare and I got to a point where I was having panic attacks every day driving in to work. Thankfully my husband was supportive, so I gave my 2 weeks notice and said I wanted to stay home with my kids (true). Then a week later I got an offer at a place I had previously applied to. I got to be home for three weeks to relax and recover and then start a new job that has proven to be much better for me. You have to take your finances into account, and health care especially if you need therapy/doctor’s care. Find out if your health care ends your last day or the last day of the month. If the last day of the month, try to quit after July 1 so that you have coverage to the end of the month. Then there is COBRA (I’m assuming you are in the US, if not, disregard) but it is VERY, VERRRRRYYYY expensive so keep that in mind. Best of luck, whatever you decide.

      Reply
      1. Hamburke

        Cobra is expensive but you have 30 days to sign up and it will retro back. We counted on that last year when my husband changed jobs and new company insurance didn’t kick in until after the first month.

        Reply
    10. Samiratou

      I’m very sorry, that sounds awful.

      Do you have savings or any other options financially if you were to quit without something else lined up?

      Reply
    11. AnonEMoose

      I’m so sorry; this sounds awful!

      How explicit have you been with your boyfriend about what is happening and how it is affecting you? I ask because I know that when I’m describing an issue that affects me, I tend to minimize things to one extent or another. And your boyfriend may need to know that this is more than you not liking your job.

      This is your job stressing you out to the point that it is affecting your health, and that is not something that is likely to improve. So I think your first step is to sit your boyfriend down and tell him exactly what is happening and why you need to leave. Because I think that, if you don’t get out of there, there is the possibility you could end up in the hospital. I say that because I want you to know that I don’t think this about you being fragile, or weak, or not able to ‘stick it out.’ This is about a highly toxic environment that is damaging you.

      It might help if you have a plan for how you’re going to handle things. I don’t know what you do, but would temping or freelancing be an option? Could you find some part time work that would at least keep money coming in while you look for a job? Make a deal with your boyfriend that if he helps you through getting out of this place and finding a new job, you’ll do the same for him once you’ve found a new job and settled in, or whatever other goal makes sense for the two of you?

      Reply
    12. SpaceNovice

      You’re at the point where quitting without something lined up could be a viable option. You’re on the verge of a breakdown, and that could keep you out of work a lot longer than simply quitting and job searching. I am certain that your boyfriend can’t fully understand it as awful, so you’ll need to lay it out somehow.

      I’ve heard of someone sending an email of everything you want to say to someone, then asking them to come talk to you only after they’ve read it before. At the very least, crafting that email and not sending it will give you a gameplan. This is so complicated to explain how awful it is that you need to have an idea of what you want to say before you talk to your boyfriend. You should think about what points/words have clicked with him in the past to make him understand a situation you’re explaining and see what you can do there. I’m afraid I don’t have better advice than that, but someone else should.

      Reply
    13. Temperance

      Honestly, I do not think you should quit without another job lined up if you’re having health issues. It’s a terrible idea to lose your insurance.

      Reply
    14. CatCat

      Do you have the financial means to support yourself if you just quit? If so, I’d say go for it, but if not, I would stay and work on the exit plan.

      Do you think she might fire you if you made it clear that you are looking for another job? It might be better to do that and get fired if you can sustain yourself financially on unemployment benefits.

      Reply
    15. Not Today Satan

      I have quit twice without jobs lined up and both times I have no regret whatsoever. A job is not worth what it’s doing to your health. Plus, if you’re anything like me, the stress of a toxic job can make it harder to find a job (yes, I know the common wisdom is the opposite). Best wishes.

      Reply
      1. Another Person

        Agree. I know I totally blew an interview once because it was at the end of a terrible day at toxic job and I was in no state to interview successfully.

        The good news was it was no problem getting time off for interviews because by that point I had so many doctors appointments anyway it wasn’t a big deal to say I had another.

        Point is I regret staying until I found a new job. I’m still trying to recover so I know I’m not performing 100% at the new one. A truly toxic job takes a heavy toll.

        I don’t advise other people stay in toxic jobs that are actually harming their health either.

        Reply
    16. Namast'ay in Bed

      I’m hoping the “my boyfriend said he would be really mad if I quit…” was hyperbole or a tl:dr of a much more involved and nuanced conversation, because otherwise he’s an ass. Someone who sees you miserable and getting sick from work and thinks “whelp as long as they keep getting a paycheck I’m happy for them to keep suffering” is not someone you want in your life and you deserve better.

      I was going through a similar situation just over a year ago where the stress and misery from work was taking over my life and making me sick. I’ve been in the dry-heaving-on-the-way-to-work club and it sucks. The only thing that helped me get through it was my incredibly supportive boyfriend who saw how unhappy I was and actively encouraged me to quit with nothing lined up. It took me a while to get to the point of actually doing it because I come from a family where employment and career is very Important and being unhappy at work was just an accepted part of life, so it took me a really long time to get to the point where I was ok with the idea of quitting a job with nothing lined up.

      Back to practical advice – I don’t know the nature of your relationship with your boyfriend, if you are living together or not, but you guys need to have a serious talk. If you aren’t living together, does he know how miserable and sick work is making you? If you aren’t, then there’s a chance that he doesn’t fully understand the impact work is having on you. It’s one thing to hear “my boss is insane and work is awful and I hate it”, it’s another to see you losing sleep, crying while you’re getting ready in the morning, or just generally being stressed in your casual daily existence. If he doesn’t know about this or fully understand, this is the time to make him understand.

      If he knows all this and is still on team suck-it-up, ask him what quitting your job would mean for him. Do you share household expenses that he would have to carry solo? Could you guys afford that? Could he afford to do that and doesn’t want to? Is he unhappy at his job but stays so he thinks you should do it too? Would he be embarrassed to have an unemployed girlfriend? All questions that you should discuss seriously. Other people have posted good advice about determining what your financial future might look like and if/how you could survive without income and for how long.

      But if you have a solid financial plan and/or if you don’t share expenses then he eff right off about being mad. I’m sending you good vibes and internet hugs!

      Reply
      1. JessicaTate

        +1 to this. My first read of your post was that it seemed to me like you had both a job problem and (possibly) a boyfriend problem. As Namast’ay said, maybe the “my boyfriend got mad” line was just TLDR shorthand for something more nuanced. But I have to say, if he got “really mad” – that doesn’t line up with any form of supportive that I’d be comfortable with. He could disagree and reasonably discuss why this might be a BAD idea. But, man, you already have a boss who’s getting really mad at you all the time… you don’t need a boyfriend who pulls the same kind of crap. (Again, assuming “really mad” wasn’t shorthand for something actually more supportive.)

        Good luck to you!

        Reply
      2. MamaGanoush

        This will not sound nice, but no matter how excellent a person your boyfriend is, remember that if you are not married you have little to no standing to get his financial help. And you won’t be able to get insurance thru his employer either. My spouse and I lived together for some years and we did support each other financially, but I was always aware that I could end up without his support and planned accordingly. (Or something could happen to him that would prevent his helping to support you— again, you have to plan for that.)

        Reply
    17. Artemesia

      I don’t think you should quit without having something else lined up. Especially when your BF has made it clear he doesn’t want to support you under those circumstances. Get some strategies during therapy for distancing yourself from this monstrous manager and get cracking on the job search.

      Reply
    18. Delicate Little Flower?

      Thank you for all the replies! Apologies that I’m not going to reply to each and every one, but I do appreciate them all!

      I’m saddened and also comforted to hear so many other people going through a similar situation. I don’t need to be “best friends” with all my coworkers, but is it too much to ask that people be respectful? My manager being so aggressive and swearing at me puts me straight into panic mode.

      I think the big thing I’m missing is a plan – I went straight to freaking out (I tend to “flight” instead of “fight”). My boyfriend and I do live together, so money is a concern. I do have some savings since I was living at with my parents after college and then we moved in together a few years later. The idea of temping or retail would mean a pay cut, but it would be better than nothing! It’s also smart to look into what would happen to my insurance. Maybe I can space out the next appointment a little more.

      His boss is a jerk, too, but they don’t always work at the same location, whereas my manager sits across from me. Every. Day. So when I say “my job sucks,” and he says “my job sucks too” it’s not quite the same. If that makes sense. And he has been concerned about my wellbeing, and I don’t think he thinks I’m faking it, but just maybe that I’m exaggerating things (which I have a tendency to do, but this is very, very different). Even when I’m home I’m freaking out about work, so I’m always upset and then he’s upset because I’m freaking out. Hoping I can get him to see that even if I’m making less money it’ll be better for both of us if I’m less miserable. I hadn’t thought about bringing it up that way before!

      But thank you everyone! I will try to use this weekend to start a plan, even if it’s a temporary one.

      Reply
      1. Not Today Satan

        I’m now temping, getting a little more than half of what I got paid at ToxicJob. I probably wouldn’t want to live off this longterm, but I can pay the rent and groceries. I’m a thousand times healthier and happier and that’s what matters. I don’t even think about work when I get home, whereas I used to lay in bed obsessing over work. Life is short.

        Reply
      2. Double A

        If you have a nervous breakdown, your therapist and doctor can put you on FMLA leave. During this time, you may not get paid (you’ll have to use up all your sick leave and PTO), but you will keep your benefits. You can use this time to rest and job search. You can quit during FMLA.

        I did this. It was totally the right choice when I was in a job where I was falling apart. My therapist diagnosed me with Adjustment Disorder, which is basically like ” you cannot reasonbly cope with whatever situation is in your life right now.” Talk to your therapist about options.

        Reply
      3. halmsh

        If you’re on your way out anyway, use your sick time and PTO to give yourself a break while you hunt. You might even want to explore your therapist providing documentation. You could also look into going on leave (FMLA or other workplace approved leave) if your therapist thinks your stress levels merit it, which would allow you to keep your insurance for a little bit.

        When I was harassed at work and was going through the investigation process by my vindictive and incompetent HR team, I regularly took PTO to give myself a break, knowing that my employer did not (as yours does not) have to right to inquire as to whether I was ‘actually’ sick as long as I got my work done and kept the time limited to less than a certain number of consecutive days, as was our policy. Give yourself these breaks if you can. Go offsite for lunch if you can. Take walks around the block when you’re feeling stressed. Anything you can do to give yourself mental breaks while you plot your next steps is helpful.

        Reply
      4. Mad Baggins

        You have all my sympathy. I definitely suspected that your boyfriend was picturing “my job sucks”=his situation. And it’s very hard for him to understand your situation objectively since he hears about it through you when you’re upset, so you can’t use him as a barometer for how upset you “should” be.

        As someone who was in a very similar situation, I would recommend
        1) as others have said, explain to your boyfriend what quitting your job now would look like in terms of your finances and what you would do with your time (retail, job hunting, self-care)

        2) mentally check out of work. It is so stressful to deal with someone’s unreasonable demands because you expend so much energy trying to guess what they want and then managing their feelings. And then you expend even more energy trying to change things for the better. Stop trying. This is how things are, you cannot improve them, and you don’t have to. Just do the bare minimum, do not emotionally invest in your work or interactions with your boss, just be a robot and conserve your energy for job hunting. This will make your day-to-day life less draining on you and is really the only thing you can do about your current job.

        3) make sure to carve out meaningful time for rest and recuperation. Even if you dissociate from your work, it’s still exhausting to deal with a crap job, so make sure you take time and space for your well-being. Maybe that means lots of bathroom breaks at work, maybe that means you read AAM or other websites to recalibrate your “what is normal” sensors, maybe that means working extra hard at job hunting because it feels proactive and positive, maybe that means meditating or exercising or getting massages or going to bed early. When you feel drained and just want to sit there, that can also be therapeutic, as long as you are doing what makes you feel relaxed and recharged.

        Good luck!

        Reply
    19. Leela

      I had a job that was so bad. I used to bike into work and once a car very nearly hit me. My first thought was “if it had hit me I wouldn’t have to go in today though….”

      I felt like I was getting up every morning to go get shot. Workplace abuse is a very, very serious problem.

      Reply
      1. Totally Minnie

        I had a similar experience. I went to the dentist before work one mornin and he told me I needed a root canal. My immediate response was “that’s fantastic! I don’t have to go to work today!”

        That’s when I realized how truly toxic my job had become.

        Reply
    20. Not So NewReader

      Under the heading of using a different route to get to the same point, can you ask him to help you look for a job? Maybe he can scan some ads or maybe he can put out some fishing lines for you.

      Some people cut directly to action plans. “Situation X sucks.” Other person, “Okay let’s fix it.” They don’t want the details or degree of sucky-ness.

      It sounds like he IS responding to what you are saying. Perhaps you need to say forward moving type things.

      ha! One thing that worked for me in my marriage was to say, “Let’s get your lousy situation fixed also.” Sometimes when we feel the least strong it’s our turn to lead. This can go like this in coupledom. Maybe you need to strike up the lead that you BOTH can get decent work places.

      Reply
    21. Upthedownstaircase

      If you decide to stick it out —
      1. Disengage. You know how when you walk down your street there is always one neighbor whose dog goes nuts barking? It doesn’t matter who you are, what you are doing, what your intent, how fast you are walking – that dog is going to bark. Accept that at your office, that dog it going to bark.
      2. Document everything. Jobs assigned to you, deadlines, status updates, progression, any changes in direction.
      3. Communicate. Manager assigns something to you, you email her a summary of what you’ve been assigned, how you plan on approaching it, what resources you need/will use. Update her on status as the deadline approaches (and if it looks like you are going to miss it).
      4. Network with coworkers to keep apprised of each others assigned tasks and availability.

      Reply
    22. neverjaunty

      Your boyfriend sounds like he’s part of the problem. He’s MAD that you want to quit because he doesn’t like his own job? Wow.

      Reply
    23. Jane of all Trades

      Definitely not “delicate flower” – getting treated like that would take a toll on everybody! I agree with other comments that you should look at your savings, and your spending, to figure out if quitting is a possibility right now. Look at what your fixed costs are – rent, utilities, insurance, and so on. Are there things you could cut, like Starbucks trips and the like? How long will you be able to pay your bills based on this budget you have created? Hopefully you’ll be able to just quit.
      If you decide that you can’t quit right now, do you have enough vacation days that you can at least take Mondays or fridays off for the next few weeks so you can decompress a little while you save money and hunt for jobs? And also, if you can’t quit, is there anyway to lessen the impact this person has on you? Like would giving her attitude back, or just doing a stoic face l, or even saying “I am a professional and expect to be treated as such. Please yell at somebody else if you feel you need to yell” help? Sometimes with bullies like her in my experience they bully more when they see that they’re having an impact. I know it’s super hard, and it’s appalling that you’re having to go through this at all, but maybe that would help. Think of it this way – what’s the worst she can do. Possibly fire you? (But probably not even). Well you want out of there anyways, so she literally has no power over you.
      Best of luck!

      Reply
    24. WalkedInYourShoes

      Over my professional career (30+ years), I have encountered several toxic managers who made a toxic environment. So, I can empathize with you. When I was just in high school and worked an after-school job that paid $2.25 an hour, I had a manager to told me that I was lazy and did not work hard enough. My job was to transfer magazine subscriptions into written orders. She placed my desk next to the door of the bathrooms in the back room. It was awful. I was constantly berated and decided that my school work and my self-esteem shouldn’t suffer. So, I quit. In college, I worked at a prominent university where the professor to whom I reported berated me for not being able to read his illegible hand-writing as I tried to type of his minutes and notes. He had some personal issues that influenced the toxic environment. During one summer jobs back at my home town, I had an Engineering manager at one of the well-known semiconductor companies drag me by the arm through the building and yelled at me. (He was reprimanded). Then, I after college I worked for a manager who threw binders and verbally abusive when something did not go his way. I found another job within the industry, because I wanted to be a marketing manager. My manager at that time was a micro-manager, didn’t like the way I dressed, talked, etc. I was 25 while everyone’s average age was between 35-40 years old. Yes, I was let go; however, when the owner of the company who loved my work asked how I was doing, he reprimanded the manager who was immediately demoted and then, extended my old job back. Thankfully, I declined. This is where it all changed.

      I realized that I, too, had some very challenging personal issues that I did not realize transferred into my work life. I came from a bad home life where my dad was physically and verbally abusive. My boyfriends were similar to my dad, and I thought that how my dad treated me is how people should treat me. For me, I did not have a good family support system. It was very lonely and scary.

      It took about 3 months of not having a job, depression, traveling, walking alot, and doing alot of soul-searching of what is happening and how I can break the cycle. I realized that everyone has value, each person is unique, and can be a positive influence personally and professionally. So, my job search was totally different. I married someone unlike my dad who made me laugh, smile, and stands by me through good and bad.

      I started taking interviews at a temp agencies to get out of the industries that I had previous experiences: semiconductor, finance/banking, health care, insurance, retail, and food/restaurant. I interviewed at many companies. I turned down ones that reminded me of my dad and the other toxic environments (personally and professionally). After 3 months of interviewing, I landed at a great company where people were positive and supportive. My manager was super amazing! It was one of the life-changing moments where I realized that there are really good managers. This was at a well-known storage company of that “time”. One of the co-founders was my manager. He referred to me as a colleague not as one of his employees. He set the bar for my ideal manager from that time. I stayed with that company for 5+ years and had several great managers with the same values. Sadly, the dot.com bust happened and I started a young family. Personal things affected my professional life. My daughters were born with severe food allergies and one my new managers, a CEO of another well-known startup eventually acquired by another well-known company was so toxic. I didn’t realize that I was experiencing post-partum depression and commuted 1.5 hours each way to work with reporting to a manager who had major gender biases. After 3 months, he brought me into his office to say that he was letting me go because I took several months off recently. I told him that it was maternity leave. He responded that if women wanted to raise a family and have babies, that they should stay home. With that I had no option except to take a package and leave. It affected me personally and professionally. (Many employees left and those who were hired after me were miserable and eventually quit).

      I look back on it and realized how I should have filed a complaint with the EEOC. I did meet with an attorney, but I knew if I sued the company that I would be known in the area for someone creating “issues”. How times have changed!

      I took a consulting and contract role to meet my children’s growing medical needs. During these years (2003 to 2014), I continued to work as a consultant and contractor. I managed to work for great managers who were my former colleagues. All awesome! Sadly, the former colleagues who recruited me at the 1st start-up, and I no longer talk. It was a hard lesson of biases that I had experienced and learned when a toxic situation is starting.

      In 2014, I transitioned back into a full-time role. In 2016, my great manager left the company. Then, a new VP started, she was passive aggressive and would not tell you directly what she wanted. For example, she said that she was transparent and 3 months later, she hired someone above me and did not tell anyone except two people. Our entire team was blind-sided. This person was extremely narcissistic, negative, and always demeaning. Like you, I brought my concerns to the VP who would not put things in writing. Another red flag. How I knew it was time? I couldn’t sleep or eat. I cried and complained at home and never in front of anyone at work. I knew that I was a rock star and had good professional relationships with my hiring managers in all departments. So, when he said that he had complaints, I didn’t believe him. He went on and on with a laundry list that was not “positive”. I brought up my concerns. However, after 2 weeks under this new manager and constantly questioned/berated, I put in my two week notice. and note that “what goes around comes around” or if you believe in karma. That manager was eventually fired, and the group had the highest turn-over. Someone was always quitting.

      Although my husband told me that I needed a job before I quit, I called a friend and colleague where I work as a PT in the evenings to see if they need more help. They did. I continued to do consulting and continue with my job search for a FT role. I have been lucky with finding roles with former colleagues who were a positive influence.

      Here’s my 2 cents of advice: 1) life is too short; 2) remember you are a valuable person personally and professionally; 3) having health issues is not worth keeping a job, there are alternatives even if it is a temporary job; 4) notice the little and big red flags, e.g., negative words; 5) network – reach out to at least 5 people within your LinkedIn network and develop a list of all the positive accomplishments – this will help you in your job search and future roles, 5a) list down what is your ideal role, company, team, manager, etc.; 6) Find a positive support “circle” like this site, go back to someone of whom you think highly and give you positive feedback; 7) don’t give up hope in finding a job; 8) you’re almost there; 9) people who are negative and treat others unfairly will always be like that and never change. (those are my personal experiences)

      Reply
  8. The Other Dawn

    It was announced this week that my company is being sold, which was definitely unexpected. It’s been a pretty sad week for everyone, as most employees are long-timers and just about everyone in general loves working here; it’s a great culture, management cares, we don’t have slackers, and it’s just a great place to work.

    So, I find myself in the position, again, of having to figure out what I want to do next. I was a ‘Jill of all trades’ at my first company; unfortunately it went out of business after 18 years. I then had to figure out what I wanted to do since I have a variety of skills and could go in any direction, mostly, within the industry. I ended up picking a job I absolutely hated. Everything about it was wrong: the boss (most especially—micromanager, rigid personality, condescending…), the culture, the job itself. In less than a year I moved on to my current job, which I really like. I have a better idea of what I want now, but I’m still feeling like I really could go in a few different directions.

    Onto the issue. We have not yet been told what our future will look like with the new company, but it’s well known that anyone in my type of work would need to commute about 35 miles to their center of operations. The alternative is taking a job, if offered, in something totally different, but close by. We’re in limbo for a while, but hopefully only for a couple weeks. We’re all thinking, do we hold out to see what we’ll get or do we jump ship now if something comes up? Forego severance in favor of job security? I do want to hold out to see what they say, since I think that’s the smart thing to do. But, a position came up and I have to admit it’s very attractive to me because the salary is 30k more than I make now and it would allow me to aggressively pay down my debt. Also, it’s a much smaller company, which I miss. BUT…it’s an hour each way without traffic and it contains elements of that previous job I hated. I’m trying hard to figure out if I didn’t have the boss I had when I had that job, would those elements have been OK with me? I’m thinking it was 75% the boss, and 25% the content of the job. Also I would be back in the position if having a very small amount of people to get a lot done.

    I’m thinking I’ll make a list of all the things I like about this job, the things I like in general vs. what I don’t like now and in general. Maybe that will help me figure this out.

    Any tips?

    Reply
    1. SophieChotek

      Have you applied for the other position? It seems like it might be worth applying?

      I was also going to ask (similar to what Alison said yesterday with the freelancer), but then you mentioned, debt: if you stay (hoping for job security) — does that mean you lose severence if there is no job in the end?

      Would you be okay for X months (even with debt) if you feel this concerned about other job prospect and the aspects you don’t like? Can you be “picky” and apply for other jobs?

      Are there other jobs in your industry in your geographic region?

      I guess those are my first questions. Sorry no tips! I am sorry this is happening! Especially when its a job you love — that sounds like the worst.

      Reply
      1. The Other Dawn

        No I haven’t applied. I’m trying to wait and see what we’re told in the next couple weeks before I do that. The closing of the sale and subsequent conversion won’t happen for several months. If I’m not given a job offer I assume I’d get some sort of severance as long as I stay until the end. I could afford to be picky right now, but probably not in a few months time. There aren’t a lot of jobs that open up in my area for what I do.

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          I went through a merger where whole departments were cut. The people who saw the handwriting on the wall and moved quickly got the good jobs. The people who hung around waiting to see what was going to happen ended up in a market for jobs already mined by those who moved quickly. They did a lot worse. In your position I would be aggressively job searching. You dn’t have to take a new position but you are likely to be better off in the long run if you find out what is out there and move if there is a good opportunity. There would have to be huge severance to make it worth waiting around for the shoe to drop for.

          Reply
          1. Lora

            +1. Survived mergers, takeovers, etc. If the severance isn’t at least 3-6 months, heck it, not worth it. Only time I ever saw a reason to stick it out was when a company was offering a minimum 6 months severance + 1 month for every year you’d worked for the company. The old timers retired early, others got their next gig lined up and volunteered to be laid off so the VP/Directors wouldn’t have to pick and choose who to lay off (which was appreciated, it sucks having to let people go).

            Reply
    2. Shannon

      I went through a similar sale last year. People left, people stayed, people were laid off, a lot of restructuring was done (more than one person was essentially demoted). It was a bit of chaos. I kept saying to people “you have to do what’s best for you”. If you want to wait and see what happens, go for it. If a good opportunity comes along, go for it.
      What if you looked at the new job outside of what is happening at your company. Would you leave your current job for it?

      Reply
      1. The Other Dawn

        Would I leave if I wasn’t going through this? Hmm. I’m thinking not since I’m happy where I am. I guess if I wasn’t happy here, it would be considered but I’d definitely be trying to get something closer in distance and closer to my current job.

        Reply
    3. SpaceNovice

      I would say apply. Even if you decide it’s not a good position, the process will help you determine what you don’t like about it and help you narrow your focus down. You’ll get practice with interviewing, too. At worst, they don’t interview you and you don’t have a lot of time lost.

      Reply
    4. CAA

      I think you should apply for the new job. Likely by the time they get around to making an offer you’ll know more about your current position and how it might be changing and can make a more informed decision as to whether to accept or decline. In the best of both worlds, you might get an offer that’ll pay you $30K more and be able to work the start date so that you can get severance from the old company too.

      Either way, stay or go, it sounds like you’ll have to deal with a longer commute. That does suck.

      Reply
    5. 13 days left @ toxic job

      I was in a very similar situation two years, my work shut down and I ended up taking a far away job that was close to what I was doing, for more money, but with elements of work I didn’t love. The job actually didn’t end up being bad at all, it was more the commute that made it completely unsustainable. Even the elements of the job I didn’t love weren’t so bad, but that was less because of a change in bosses and more because the workload was lighter at the second job.

      This is all to say, consider commute really carefully. It can make an otherwise great job really awful.

      Reply
      1. The Other Dawn

        The one good thing about this commute is that it’s to a quiet corner of the state, against traffic, and I wouldn’t be hitting the “problem” highways. But that area also gets a lot of snow, which would be difficult I’m the winter.

        Reply
        1. TardyTardis

          Studded tires are your friend if your state allows you to run with them. Snow isn’t anywhere as bad as say, black ice to drive on (with studded tires).

          Reply
    6. Surrogate Tongue Pop

      Re: In limbo, it’s usually more than a couple weeks. I’ve been through several merger/acquisitions, and at my current company, we closed the deal in December, it’s nearly end of June and we’re still in limbo about jobs. We know we have jobs, but in my company (which got acquired), we are still in the dark about how we fit into new company job families, whether or not our salaries will be affected, what benefits we will be on in 2019, and so forth. I went from being Jill of All Trades, to quasi Jill of All Trades (for now) and we won’t have a feeling of being settled probably for another year.

      I wish you all the best, being part of a merger/acquisition is never fun and causes lots of internal thoughts and scenarios.

      Reply
    7. New Job So Much Better

      Ugh, I feel for you. After 18 years at my last job, the company was taken over in a merger and everything changed. Luckily I found something much better before deciding to leave. I love your idea of making a pros and cons list. Good luck!

      Reply
    8. Not So NewReader

      You can apply for the job and say no later. But the problem is you could have applied for a job that you would say yes to later.

      My vote is no, do not apply for this job. Two hours of drive time is mind-wearing. After a year or two your mental endurance will not be where it is now, because of all that driving. You are saying there are elements you don’t like. Combine that with fatigue from all. that. driving and you have a bad mix. The extra money could end up getting used for car care and health care because of this job.

      Look for jobs that you are sincerely interested in, put your time into applying for those. Applying for jobs is a huge time suck especially if we are working full time. Make all your minutes count toward something. Not much different than budgeting and being deliberate about handling money. Handle time with the same forethought and discernment.

      Reply
      1. The Other Dawn

        Yeah, I’m leaning towards not applying. After seeing the job description, thinking about it a lot more, talking to a few people that are familiar with the company, and just noticing a little while ago that the position has been vacant for quite a while, I think I’ll pass. The thought of applying for it doesn’t excite me, which is a big red flag for me. And I’ve had the long commute + hating the job, and I basically cried everyday until I found a new job. I don’t want to get back into that again.

        I’m looking at job postings everyday to see what’s out there, so if I find something more to my liking I’ll apply.

        Reply
    9. ..Kat..

      You are looking, which is good. At this point in your search, because you are searching early, you can be pickier about what job you would accept.

      I would recommend cutting expenses as much as possible so that you have more of a money cushion – in case you need it.

      Also, if you are in the USA and have employer based health insurance, get all of the maintenance healthcare that you can while you still have good insurance.

      Good luck. I am sorry that you are having to deal with this.

      Reply
  9. Justin

    Just a nice moment. My job has very longterm projects, and accordingly I’ve only really had two since I got promoted last fall. Finally coming to a point of getting feedback on a major submission and received glowing remarks. More importantly, with my anxiety issues, the parts of the submission I was slightly concerned about were indeed the parts on which they offered constructive criticism, helping me trust that my instincts match reality more specifically.

    So i got this goin for me, which is nice.

    Reply
    1. SpaceNovice

      A great moment! I’m glad for you. The trusting your instincts thing is hard on me, too, but I’m realizing they’re getting honed to be right as well. I hope things keep on going well for you!

      Reply
        1. SpaceNovice

          It’s extremely difficult, especially when you’ve got a boss that gaslights you due to lack of understanding the problem. And thank you!

          Reply
    2. Catalin

      YEAH! WOO! Get it!! It is SO HARD to work on these types of projects with such limited feedback, and you NAILED it. Congrats!!!

      Reply
      1. Justin

        Yeah. I get plenty of incremental feedback that sometimes make me hesitant, but knowing it is all combining into a well-received whole is huge.

        Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      My wise friend use to talk about worrying for the sake of worrying versus worry that happens for a reason. One thing he said we all should do is pay attention to our gut. We are supposed to be intuitive and we are supposed to be able to logically deduce what is coming up next. This is necessary for our survival and quality of life.

      He said when we encounter a worry we should take extra notice of how we feel. Compare those feelings to the feelings that we had the last time we were worried and we were CORRECT about the worry. By learning when we are apt to be correct, we can start to intervene in the unfolding concern and take action steps. In your example here that could mean reviewing our work or asking a mentor type person for inputs.

      I used to worry about leaving the coffee pot on at home. There were days when that was just worry for the sake of worry. But the few days I did forget the feeling came over me, “No, I actually DID leave the coffee pot on.” I went back and sure enough, it was still on. It takes time and practice to figure out when a worry has actual basis.

      Reply
    4. ..Kat..

      Constructive criticism is the best. They like you and want you to succeed and are telling you how to succeed.

      Reply
  10. T3k

    So, I’m a bit stuck between a rock and a hard place and wanted people’s opinions on this.

    For background, my last job I finally broke into the industry I wanted to be in. The kicker is it was only 6 months contract, so I’m stuck once more trying to find the same position elsewhere to continue. I’ve had several interviews related to the job, but no offers. Now here’s my issue: I’ve come across a few more positions but they’re at terrible companies. As in, they made the news in the industry within the past couple years of being bad, laying off employees, overworked, even employees commenting things like “don’t take unless you’re desperate”.

    So, my question is, should I even bother applying for these positions? I really need more experience (at least a solid year if not two) but is it worth it at terrible companies? Or should I just look for non-related jobs in the meantime and just hope I can break back into it later? (the job has skills that can carry over to non-industry jobs, but ideally they like people with experience in their field).

    Reply
    1. Nita

      It really depends on how hard it is to break back into the field once you’ve left it – maybe co-workers, or anyone in the same field, can give advice on that? However, if it looks like you can make a sideways move and then get back in, toxic jobs are 100% not worth the strain on one’s mental (and sometimes physical) health. They can totally mess with your life outside of work too. And if you can’t make the sideways move and the toxic jobs seem like your only option, take a hard look at whether staying in the industry at all is worth it to you.

      Reply
      1. SophieChotek

        Yes, I was thinking a similar thing.

        You do have had several interview with other companies (not the toxic one), so that sounds really good, even if you aren’t at an offer stage yet.

        Like Alison said yesterday with the freelancer, can you afford to not work for a few months, versus taking toxic job.

        Since I don’t know what industry you are in and I understand you’re coming off a 6 month contract, but are there other opportunities in the industry where you coudl keep your foot in, but not work at toxic job. (Like if this was “writing or editing”, literally an editing job/write this article that will only be a week’s worth of work, while also working the non-industry job) sort of thing.

        Sorry I don’t know…but maybe all my unhelpful comments can help point you to a better idea!

        Reply
        1. T3k

          I could last several more months, but I get rather antsy without a job (entered the workforce during the recession, so my work history is pretty spotty with unemployment periods).

          Eh, yes and no. It’s easier to move sideways if you’re still within the company, but when my contract was ending there wasn’t anything else available that I qualified for (I did talk to HR about one very similar position but never heard back from them while I was still there or since).

          And thanks for the comments :) I’ve been feeling like I suck at this but at least I have gotten several interviews (at nicer companies) during the past several months so at least that’s good sign.

          Reply
    2. cajun2core

      Apply for the jobs. I regret not accepting a job offer I had that would have gotten me back into the industry I want to be in. The job had a number of red-flags. I am still in a dead-end job that I hate because I did not take that job.

      Reply
    3. June

      I think it depends on the type of terribleness and what you know you can handle. For instance, I do okay with being overworked, but I have a harder time with difficult personalities. I would take your potential positives (gaining experience, staying in the field, and networking) and weigh them against the negatives that you’re going to have a hard time with personally.

      Reply
  11. SophieChotek

    I had my first interview last Friday after year of searching and applying. I still don’t know the results, but I don’t feel like the interview was a complete disaster. They did ask for my references, so that might be a good sign. Even if I don’t get the job, the fact that I finally got an interview was encouraging. And even though it wasn’t one of those “amazing” interviews, I felt so much less nervous than I might otherwise have been because I read and re-read Allison’s Interview guide.

    Reply
      1. SophieChotek

        Thanks. And that is what I a telling myself a year+ without an interview…if nothing else, this was good practice and hopefully I can go into another interview with more confidence.

        Reply
    1. Ali G

      Yay! Sounds promising! Right there with you. Been searching since January and I just found out yesterday I have a phone interview on Tuesday! So excited. It’s only my second phone interview in my whole search. I have yet to wear the new suit I bought for interviews :/
      Good luck to you!!

      Reply
    2. nep

      Great that you got the interview. Well done–and way to persevere. Keep us posted.
      Wishing you all the best.

      Reply
  12. MLIS Career Advice?

    I have a MLIS (research and resources specialization) and I’d like to pivot into user research/design research. If you did this, can you share how?

    Reply
    1. SE-No

      There is a whole lot of bad advice/misunderstanding of what UX research actually is. My wife’s a UX researcher and I could ask her for some direction? She graduated from a school that is internationally renowned for her program and really learned a lot in her Master’s studies.

      I know that her main focus with research includes a lot of workshops/diary studies/interviews, and focus on talking to customer’s and then incorporating that knowledge into her companies digital products.

      Reply
    2. ux-adjacent

      I’m in a UX-focused office where we’re looking for someone who can be a sort of technical librarian/document strategist. Your background sounds exactly like what was discussed during strategy meetings for writing the posting. (I’m not convinced the listing accurately captures the discussions, but it’s a weird market niche where I don’t know if there’s a generally accepted industry title?)

      anyway, I listed the posting as my website so you should be able to click through if that sounds intriguing

      Reply
  13. Anonymous Educator

    For those of you who have been involved in hiring (even if you weren’t on the hiring committee or the actual hiring manager), can you share a time you hired a candidate who looked good on paper (or even was a great interviewee) who turned out to be a dud? Or a time when you took a risk on someone who didn’t look good on paper or didn’t impress in the interview but ended up being a great employee?

    Reply
    1. AdAgencyChick

      Hiring is hard. REALLY hard. And hence, I have examples on both sides!

      I once hired someone who wanted to transition into a junior copywriting role from having been in HR. This is not a typical transition, and he had taken some initiative to put together a small portfolio — of conceptual ideas, though, not fully written materials (visuals and slogans, not, say, a brochure).

      I was really impressed by his initiative in putting together a portfolio and by the way he presented himself in the interview — more confident and articulate than I typically see in candidates for a very junior position. So I hired him without making him take a copywriting test. Turns out he was articulate in speech, but not in writing. When he had to compose anything more complicated than a headline, he floundered. I felt awful when I had to fire him.

      On the other hand, a few years before that I had been interviewing two candidates, again for a fairly junior role, and it would have been a career change for both of them. One of the candidates really impressed me with her interview skills; the other was really reticent. I wanted to hire the first candidate, but my direct report wanted the second. Since my direct report would be her direct manager, I let her make the call. The second candidate turned out to be stellar — hard worker, super conscientious, organized, and super pleasant to work with. (The shyness was real, though; she was always one of our quieter employees and although she was too junior to be involved in a lot of client presentations when I worked with her, I assume she’s had to work through that as she’s advanced in her career.)

      Reply
    2. anon for this one

      I’m not a manager but I’ve been on many interview committees.

      For the candidate who looked good on paper… he turned out to be a blatant racist. And when your racism comes out during a job interview, when no questions naturally led that way at all, it’s pretty bad.

      For the risk… we had a candidate who was okay on paper, but not outstanding. However, she had a really great letter of recommendation, so we interviewed her based on that. She turned out to be a great interview and a great employee, but I guess that doesn’t really fit your criteria for this one.

      Reply
      1. DCGirl

        I wasn’t the hiring manager for this one, but…

        Two jobs ago, I started on the same day as another team member. I was hired as a Senior Teapot Marketing Specialist; he was hired as Teapot Marketing Specialist. From Day One, that frosted his cookies and he told me repeatedly that he was not hired at the higher level/salary because he 1) announced he was gay during the first week and/or 2) a minority group member. I found him going through my desk one day trying to find my offer letter for evidence for his EEOC complaint. The fact was that he had no experience in marketing but was hired because our manager thought he had transferrable skills and was trainable. Sweet fancy Moses, was she ever wrong.

        He was always telling us that he had great IT skills. While the position didn’t require them, they were certainly a plus, and he was always asking for assignments tailored to his skills. One day, he owed another team member inputs for a deadline-sensitive client deliverable. He said his computer was down (the screen was black) and was waiting for IT. He then proceeded to pull out a magazine, put his feet on his desk, and read about the latest men’s fashions while waiting for IT. I happened to walk by his cube and saw a loose cable near his computer out of the corner of my eye. I asked him if it could possibly be related to his IT issue. No, no, no — he knew IT and he knew it wasn’t. I asked if he was really sure. Yes, yes, yes — he was an expert.

        The other team member was almost apoplectic waiting for his inputs, because IT Expert Guy was days overdue. I asked a third time if he was sure that loose cable was not the source of the problem. No, no, no — of course. So, I got down on my hands and knees, crawled under his outstretched legs which were still propped on his desk, and plugged the cable for his monitor back into his hard drive. His screen immediately blazed to life.

        He made tons of mistakes and, what was worse, was completely incapable of learning from them. Every time he was called into a meeting with our manager to discuss his mistakes, he would immediately go home saying that he was feeling unwell and call in sick the next day. It got to the point where, if he didn’t come in in the morning, we’d all wonder what he’d done this time.

        It took nine months to document and fire him. When we cleaned out his desk, we found a notebook with his enemies list (I was #1). I periodically google him just to make sure I don’t ever change jobs to a place where he might be working, and found his Twitter, in which he is still ranting about all the people who’ve discriminated against ten years later.

        Reply
    3. Another Anonymous Educator

      Oh my god YES.

      (Note: I’m changing my user name for this because my colleagues know I read and comment regularly here.)

      I was on the hiring committee to find a teacher to replace me. It was a foreign language position so my role was to assess the candidates’ speaking skills. We hired someone who was amazing on paper: lots of references, great references, had lots of ideas about extra-curricular, etc.

      She was a disaster. She didn’t respect the chain of command so ended up going to the superintendent a lot and bypassing colleagues and administrators, which is not a thing that is done. She took a ton of sick time and never left sub plans. She said the workload was too heavy and she kept asking for paid days off to do marking (just an fyi, the workload for MFL is often heavy because the teacher is often the ONLY teacher in the school doing that job — when I did it, I had over 300 students and I taught 13 separate classes). She actively undermined other staff to the students. And when she left, she literally snuck out like a thief in the night — one morning we got to school to find her classroom empty and her keys in the principal’s mailbox. I had lent her lots of my resources to use; she took them, too.

      I’ve kept an eye on her over the years. She has never lasted more than a year at a school since, which for an MFL teacher is frightening — there are so few of us, we’re worth our weight in gold, basically.

      Reply
      1. Muriel Heslop

        I feel like this happens a lot in education (not those specifics, obviously.) As SPED department head, I manage the hiring committee for our department and sit on the hiring committee for most of the other departments.
        We moved to the group interview on campus (following a screening interview) in hopes to weed out the duds. The district was sending us “great resumes” but teaching is definitely not a field where high GPA necssarily translates to superior job performance. We ask a questions about troubleshooting skills, empathy, teamwork and other intangibles that help us get to know a person. We have also started asking for a practice class to be taught if possible. Our school is *sort of* desirable in a *very* desirable location/city so we get more candidates than we can hire so we can get people who will participate in this, but it’s not always an option for us.

        Good luck!

        Reply
        1. Another Anonymous Educator

          That is so true. Being with it and being able to manage people is, in a lot of ways, way more important than subject knowledge. That can be taught and a good teacher will take the time to learn it. But it doesn’t matter if you have a PhD in biology or whatever; if you can’t manage kids, talk to parents, and work within a school’s culture, that PhD isn’t worth anything.

          Reply
      2. TardyTardis

        My husband’s school had a Special Ed teacher who was taken away by the cops. See, she was on some serious pain meds, and not only did she have one of her students go down to pick up them up at the pharmacy, she kindly offered them around to students who said they were in pain. That one got headlines.

        Reply
      3. sheep jump death match

        I gasped out loud at “going to the superintendent a lot.” I can’t even imagine.

        Reply
        1. Another Anonymous Educator

          Yes, it was awful and so annoying. Something would happen, she would not get her way, and next thing we knew, we’d see her in his office. Usually crying. Then an hour later she’d be in the hall all smug. (Although to be fair, he was part of the problem. He shouldn’t have entertained that nonsense.)

          Reply
      4. Julianne (also a teacher)

        My specialty is adjacent to MFL, and it is challenging to find people for roles in my department who simultaneously (a) are competent at teaching in this specialty, and (b) actually want to teach in this specialty. We thought we got lucky when we hired someone who had actually taught in this specialty for a LOA coverage position…until she’d been there a week and we discovered that her previous experience had apparently endowed her with ZERO pedagogical or management skills. She is literally the worst teacher I have ever worked with, and although we have not discussed my being a reference for her for the future, I know that if I am ever contacted regarding her candidacy I must speak truthfully. She is just unbelievably awful, yet on paper she looked okay.

        Reply
      5. Foreign Language Teacher

        I had a very similar experience. I was also on a hiring committee for a MFL teacher. This lady looked amazing on paper, interviewed extremely well, and had, to quote my vice principal, “glowing references.” We were all so excited to have her join our faculty. Then, we found out that she could not teach. She was disorganized, had zero classroom management skills, was always weeks, or even months behind on grading, did not understand how to use our online grade book after being trained repeatedly. It was a nightmare. Furthermore, she could not/ would be coached. When we tried to help her,
        she would say that she understood, then she would continue doing exactly the same things she had been doing.
        Sometimes I still think back to her interview and think, wow, we really got fooled. Big time.

        Reply
        1. Windchime

          I’m not a manager, but I’ve been on lots of interview committees. I can usually spot a bullshitter from a mile away, but our whole committee was fooled by an internal candidate. She presented herself well and interviewed very, very well. We were thrilled to hire her as a business analyst. Well. As it turns out, she had been run out of every department she’d ever worked in at our company. All of her internal transfers should have been a huge red flag to us, but it didn’t occur to any of us that it was more than what she said (“I like variety”). When she was later promoted to manager, she became a tyrant and was eventually fired. It’s still odd to me, because she interviewed really well.

          Reply
      6. TA turned office drone

        The superintendent?!?! Did she know her/him and was trying to take advantage of that? Or was she basically just harassing his /her office?

        Reply
        1. Another Anonymous Educator

          No, she didn’t know him. He happens to have an office in our school and he’s the final authority. So when she didn’t get her way, she went literally crying to him.

          He’s part of the problem, though. He should have sent her packing the first time she tried it.

          Reply
    4. Llamarama (Ding Dong)

      I called a guy in for an interview solely because there was a joke in our ad and he was the only one who made a related joke in his cover letter. He didn’t have any of the skills I normally look for, and his degree wasn’t one we normally hire (it was for an entry-level position, and we could train people to do what we needed so the skills weren’t MUST haves, just what had worked well in the past). He came in for an interview and blew us away. Our COO asked me to make him an offer asap.

      He almost immediately surpassed everyone else in the department and was quickly promoted up the chain. If you looked blindly at the job we do and the backgrounds of the people in the department, you would never expect that he would do so well. I was always immensely grateful that he wrote that cover letter.

      Reply
    5. Tea, please

      OMG, so many stories. Most recently, I ran a summer academic camp that and hired 50+ staff. Since it is a summer program, activities had to be high engagement. We provided some projects to the teaching staff, but most of the teachers wanted to use the summer to try out new projects and teaching techniques, and we provided instructional coaches to support the teachers. I learned A LOT.
      One person I hired, I interviewed along with a 40+ year teaching and admin vet. We were so excited about him. He had amazing recommendation letters (standard in education) from a colleague, parent, and principal. Before he was a teacher, he was an actor and was very engaging in the interview. He was able to describe really rigorous academic projects that he did with his students. He checked a lot of boxes. But when the program started, he was abysmal and had the program been longer than 5 weeks and I had more experience managing, I would have fired him. He wouldn’t make eye contact with the students. He only gave them worksheets. His exuded discomfort. Frankly, I think he was racist. The camp served a large minority population from an urban area. He was a learning experience for me–The next summer I made sure I had a backup staff member I could use in a classroom in case I made a bad hire again.
      The next summer, I had a teacher who was a bit of a risk, but was one of my best teachers in the years I ran the program. I was a little concerned in the interview whether he understood what a good project looked like, but I hired him because he was from an immigrant group that was highly represented by the students in the program but underrepresented in the classroom staff. Since we had academic coaches on staff, I knew we could support him with the content. His references spoke very highly of his ability to mentor students. This is ultimately why I hired him. His class was always calm, he did amazing projects, and his kids made the most growth of any year in that subject.

      Reply
    6. LibraryBug

      I mostly hired student employees (in college) though I was on some committees for full-time staff as well.

      Before we revamped the questions and interview process, I got a lot of students who knew the “right” answers to generic interview questions but didn’t have any motivation or drive to work once they were hired. They saw the job as “easy” and slacked off.

      On the other side of the coin: I pushed really, really hard to hire a graduate student who had no work experience and a BS that was completely irrelevant to the work. She wrote an amazing cover letter that showed she actually researched the position (didn’t write “I love being surrounded by books” or similar) and gave me points about how her schoolwork and characteristics would fit. My hiring team was on the fence but I got my way. She was *amazing*, incredibly dedicated, hardworking, and wanted to understand more about her job and the way the department worked.

      Reply
    7. Nita

      Not me, but this happened to a relative who’s a programmer. As far as I gather, it was a technical interview, but with no actual technical skills test (it’s state work and I guess their hiring process is a bit behind the times). The guy sounded good, his resume looked good, and when he got hired it turned out he was lying on his resume. Heaven knows how he passed the interview, probably just memorized a lot of stuff, but he could barely write code and he wasn’t picking it up from co-workers who were trying to help.

      Reply
      1. Windchime

        Oh, we had this guy, too! There was a coding exercise, though, and he turned in a bunch of code that was somehow machine generated. Like it still had all of these weird comment blocks that indicated it was not written by a person (I don’t remember the details). I was 100% thumbs-down on this guy, but others didn’t seem to mind that he didn’t really write his code. We ended up not hiring him, but seriously guys–WTF? We were hiring for a coder!
        Another hire was a woman who was to be a contractor for a a few months, just to help out writing a module for a larger project. She had an unusual first and last name, and a project manager recognized her as someone who he had worked with previously. He’d had to kick her off his project because she was lazy and incompetent. Well, our company hired her anyway. Whenever she was asked to check in her code, she would say she was still testing and would be ready soon. Near the end of the engagement, she finally checked in her code and had done basically nothing over the past months. Like just a few lines. The development team pulled an all-weekender and did the work that she was supposed to have done over months. It was a fiasco.

        Reply
    8. savethedramaforyourllama

      HR person here – we made what we thought was a great hire a little over a year ago. Well we started to notice that her “drama level” was higher than average. Ok, but her work is good. And then she went FULL BANANA CRACKERS – lying, stories, manipulation. I think she had a major change in her personal life which caused all of this. Luckily, we managed the situation in such a way she quit on her own and we didn’t have to terminate (although we probably could have)

      Reply
      1. Llama Wrangler

        Yeah, my bad experience was similar — someone who was good on paper, had strong interviews and references, but went increasingly off the rails once she was hired. This was a short, seasonal position and luckily most of the drama came at the very end and we could just note to not rehire her.

        On the flip side, because I work with a lot of entry level applicants, I’ve definitely had people blow me away either in interviews or once they’ve started where their materials didn’t reflect it. If I’m on the fence, however, references have almost always convinced me whether to take the risk or not.

        Reply
    9. EA in CA

      We once hired a lady on a one year contract for a maternity leave coverage (we’re in Canada). She was great on paper, interview well, and checked off all the boxes during the reference checks. She shows up for her second day, went out for lunch and never came back. We called her cell, her home number, and finally resorted to her emergency contact. When she finally got back to us, she said she found the work too stressful (literally, all she had trained on was the basics of the general ledger, and the AP process with a couple hours of learning the filing system).

      The second lady we hired lasted all of 81 days until it was discovered through a social connection of my boss that this lady was notorious for trying to sue her companies for discrimination or harassment if ever she didn’t get her way, didn’t like a task or responsibility, and wanted to do the very bare minimum expected of her. On paper she looked wonderful, had all the right experience for the role, and had great references (found out they where false, most were friends or family playing a role). She moved industries because of the bad reputation she had gotten.

      Reply
      1. New Job So Much Better

        Similar story–hired a young woman and gave her a manual to leaf through on her first day, because I didn’t have work for her to start on. She lasted about an hour, said she was going to her car for cough drops, and never returned. When I finally heard from her a few days later, she said the manual had overwhelmed her and she was afraid she couldn’t do the job.

        Reply
        1. TheCupcakeCounter

          That happened to my coworker 3 times when trying to get a temp for an AR assistant position. First person lasted an hour, second was here most of the week but apparently had called the temp agency after her first day and asked for a different assignment while still showing up until that assignment came through, and the third simply didn’t show up the second day.
          Finally for approval for an FTE position and got a great person.

          Reply
    10. NicoleK

      Several jobs ago, Big Boss brought someone onto the team. Big Boss was really impressed by her resume and initial interview. I wasn’t that impressed and opposed the hiring. New team member was a major bust. She only worked on her pet projects, carried on as if she knew more than her coworkers, and was only interested in creating her own department. She lasted 9 months before being let go.

      Reply
    11. OtterB

      The candidate looked okay on paper but not great. I had some doubts about his technical skills, although he had just completed a relevant degree. It’s been some time, so I’ve forgotten the details. But I remember sitting in the conference room going back and forth talking about the candidates and saying, “The heck with it. I really liked him. Let’s go for it.” His technical skills were fine, and his interpersonal skills made a major contribution to the success of a crucial project. He moved on to another employer several years ago – we’re a small organization and don’t really have much in the way of growth path to offer – but he stopped in a few months ago to say hi.

      Reply
    12. Bea

      I got my first long term job with very little on paper and at 22, my interview skills sucked.

      I stayed for over 10 years and took over 85% of the operations duties in the end. So I was a good bet they took.

      I’ve had numerous people who look great on paper and they couldn’t even do the simplistic tasks like data entry and counting inventory. I had someone who didn’t understand how I knew something was a 2×4 and 4×4 in lumber. Sigh.

      Reply
      1. As Close As Breakfast

        We had a bad hire that was completely flummoxed by all things inventory. I attempted to explain, on multiple occasions, why the inventory system count going negative was a sign that something was wrong and she needed to go figure it out. Like, she absolutely could not understand that a negative number was impossible or why. “You can’t have a negative amount of something, like, you can’t have less than no o-rings” just went in one ear, bounced around a bit and flew out the other ear. I’m confident she still didn’t get it when she was let go about 6 months after she started.

        Reply
    13. Ali G

      I have one of each.
      First woman we hired as a communications coordinator. It was an admin position, but specific to communications and also had a lot of program management too. She was recommended to us after interning at the PR firm we worked with. She had a great resume, interviewed really well and everyone liked her. She was a disaster. She spent more time in J-date than working, had major meltdowns over doing her actual job, but the worst was when she turned her work phone off and wouldn’t answer emails over the weekend. She was responsible for sending our exhibit materials to tradeshows and one of our staff had one that started on a Saturday. The materials never arrived. We called both her phones, sent emails, texts, even called her parents. She never responded. She was fired shortly after.
      The good one: One year we had a big announcement going out right after the new year. Over Christmas, our Office Manager ended up going into premature labor and having her baby at just 29 weeks. She was 3 hours away at her parents place and her baby was too small and in the NICU so she could not come back. We needed temp help – bad. We ended up taking a chance on a women that had a major in music (not even tangentially related to our field) and was a recent grad. She was a rockstar. This was about 9 years ago. She is now the full time Office Manager, and is also the staff liaison for HR and Accounting (they are outsourced). Overall, she is probably one of the best hires of my life.
      PS – the baby was fine and is a total bruiser now (along with his little sis).

      Reply
    14. Jady

      We had a disastrous new hire. He looked great on paper, great personality, very friendly, and when he was in the office he did great work!

      Well… pretty soon after being hired, he started having serious medical issues – seizures, allergic reactions to medications, even in a coma! And his physical appearance reflected some of this. Everyone felt awful for him. He was out of work spontaneously, and would be out for weeks, and no one could get hold of him or his emergency numbers. Since he was brand new, he wasn’t eligible for FMLA (as far as I understood it). Obviously all that caused issues at work where he was just gone and no one knew when he would be back.

      After months of this going on, it was discovered he was actually just an alcoholic. He got friendly with another coworker who was offering to help him out since he didn’t have many resources. That coworker realized pretty quickly what was going on.

      I don’t know the details of what HR knew and when. The guy was fired pretty shortly after.

      The worst part was before that hire, we were a very lax environment. Our boss was remote and just trusted us all to do our jobs, and that had worked fine for years. After this, HR cracked down on management monitoring their employees. We now have a department “lead” who monitor us and track our comings and goings and hours and absences and projects etc.

      Reply
      1. Another Anonymous Educator

        Yeah, that’s often a reaction. Since disaster teacher left, our school has become way more strict about what they expect from us. One person literally ruined it for everyone.

        Reply
    15. Persimmons

      I was on a team that hired the candidate with over a decade more experience than the second choice. He was looking to downshift into a junior role prior to retiring, and people were falling all over themselves to get this titan of industry.

      He turned out to be a condescending windbag who refused to take instruction or do things “the Teapot Inc. way” because he knew best. People were redoing his work because he outright rejected company guidelines. He was a collage of the worst stereotypes of his generation–he called our boss “little lady”. It was six long months before they managed to eliminate his position.

      Reply
    16. Lindsay Gee

      I once interviewed a girl for a customer service position at a campground. Slightly more complicated than fast food because we had a semi-complicated booking system. Girl seemed smart, SUPER bright and bubbly and totally tanked at the job. Think ‘valley girl’- super nice, but always made mistakes, even when corrected 100x, patiently retraining her etc etc. We really liked this girl and put her in a different role (interactive children’s programming in the forest) and she was a SUPERSTAR. Dumb as a post when it came to computers, math, money, basic admin work but just excelled in a different area. She was a happy case. We had lots of other people who were actually decent at their jobs, even excellent, but were so rude or nasty to customers and management we had to let them go. Honestly 10/10 i would always pick the person who had room to grow and was a positive, good person over someone who can do the job but is nasty, mean, gosspiy or won’t take direction well.

      Reply
    17. Other Duties As Assigned

      Ugh yes. We hired a candidate for an entry level position who came in with incredible experience. Her background included many of the duties in our position, but she also had advanced experience managing teams. I was concerned about her being overqualified or feeling underutilized in the position, but she insisted that she was looking for a more low key position as she was a new mom. Her competencies proved excellent, but her interpersonal skills and fit in the organization were terrible. Her dissatisfaction with management and interpersonal dramas put a dark cloud over our whole office, so much so that I almost quit. I didn’t realize until after she left that the unhappiness I felt was from internalizing her gripes. In retrospect, we should have dealt with it more proactively when the issues first cropped up.

      This experience taught me to focus more on interpersonal skills and general demeanor for entry level positions where the tasks can be taught. We have a new person in the role who has a much bigger learning curve, but comes to it with so much positivity and eagerness that I love coming to work again.

      Reply
    18. Not So NewReader

      Watch out for people who look great on paper but spend the interview looking for your approval. Why is a would a confident over achiever be excessively seeking approval? Just food for thought.

      Reply
      1. tangerineRose

        I tend to be an over-achiever who seeks approval more than I probably should. Then again, I usually try to at least mostly hide my need for approval.

        Reply
    19. Jane of all Trades

      Oh I love this question!
      One person I interviewed for a staff accountant position – she seemed like a great fit. A lot of experience in one area, wanting to transition into a second area, we were looking for somebody who could help out in her area of expertise and interested in growing into the second, and with language skills that matched our client basis. Perfect! When interviewed her I asked her some substantive questions about specific things that she would need to be working on, and – fantastic – she had experience in all of them. She also seemed really sweet, so my only concern was that she would be too sweet for our office (we had some bullies / drama ppl working for us at the time, thankfully they have all left).
      She was a total disaster. There is no way she had ever done half of the things she claimed to be knowledgeable in, which was a challenge in itself, but she was unfriendly in a scary / unhinged sort of way. She would do weird things like get really mad about not being invited to a planning meeting the partners were having (she was far from being a partner, and nobody else was invited, so it’s unclear why this upset her), lecturing me about the order we should be wishing each other a good morning when coming into the office (apparently I needed to go first, and she was upset at having had to wish me a good morning first the previous few days), and other super bizarre things. Unfortunately she also smelled pretty strongly but would come really close when asking questions. I have personal space issues as it is, and she would always come so close that at some point I had to tell her that she was standing too close to me, which did not help. Thankfully she resigned after six weeks. Her name still sometimes comes up when we trade war stories in the office.
      One of our great hires I was not involved in interviewing, but must have been one of those instances somebody took a chance. He definitely did not have the standard career path for our industry, rather, he worked in his parents grocery store for at least 10 years after high school, then went to college for his accounting degree. So he did not have any relevant experience when he started, and did not have any preferred language skills either. But he clearly has a talent for what we do, and is such a delight to work with. So I’m really great somebody saw his potential when they looked at his resume.

      Reply
    20. Fantasma

      We were hiring a backfill of sorts for me, and it came down to an internal candidate and an external candidate. The internal candidate knew exactly how to answer everything and had good work samples so the other interviewers preferred her. I preferred the external because she brought experience that we didn’t have and needed (and she also interviewed well, just not as well as the internal candidate). We hired the internal candidate, and she had some strengths but shut down every time she got feedback and never really improved. She caused friction with other team members and generally made it clear she was out for herself so she could get promoted quickly. Because our manager wasn’t assertive in tough situations, the team culture devolved and many people, including me, left the team.

      Reply
  14. Loopy

    Anyone have tips for not getting overwhelmed when starting a fast paced, deadline driven job where you have to jump right in??

    I expect it to ramp up very quickly. Plus I’ll be off site from the team and without a direct supervisor for the first week!!

    Reply
      1. Loopy

        I think it will! I’m expected a backlog will make it harder up front in addition to the new-ness of everything!

        Reply
    1. SophieChotek

      I think most of it is mental. If you know it will be fast-paced and deadline driven before going in, one can be mentally prepared, versus suddenly and unexpectly getting thrown into it. Easier said, than done, I know.

      Also I don’t know if this is deadline-driven job or deadline-driven job with no end in sight, but if I know I am on an intense project but it will be/must be over by X, that really helps me push through. (I usually add at least a week to accomodate delays, etc., so I won’t be disappointed when it runs over.)

      If possible – to sound like a fortune cookie advice person – if you like having a list to check off/mentally say, “I did this”, breaking it into smaller pieces….? Might help?

      Reply
      1. Loopy

        I’m expecting it to be harder up front due to a potential back log but also I am hoping being mentally prepped for an uphill fight does help. Thanks!

        Reply
    2. Alternative Person

      Organize yourself. I have a notebook where I keep track of things with task lists of what needs to be done and when by, it makes sure something is at least on my mental radar even if it isn’t an immediate priority. Figure out what works for you.

      Set aside time to organize yourself. 10-15 minutes of working out what you need to do and by when can save you hours later on. If I plan out my day at the start, I can parcel my resources (physical, work related and mental) to get through it, usually with enough spoons to handle an emergency.

      Reply
      1. Loopy

        Thank you for this. Sometimes it feels absurdly hard to justify time spent planning even though I know it makes sense. In overwhelming situations it’s so tempting to jump in and get the workload down asap.

        I am debating getting a new bullet journal. I don’t love it but in the past having a neat, well laid out template for my thoughts/questions/tasks helps me feel more in control.

        Reply
    3. CatCat

      I make a checklist of all the steps I need to do before the deadline. That way, if I start to get overwhelmed and things start to slip my mind, the list helps keep me on track and moving forward. I am in a phase like that right now and the checklist is ensuring I know 100% where I am and what I still have to do. I literally forgot a step yesterday and was reminded by referencing the list and got it taken care of so I will meet the deadline.

      Reply
    4. Ann Furthermore

      I’m in this same position. The only consolation is that just about everyone is new so we’re all in the same boat. I am just trying to figure out one thing at a time and move on to the next.

      Reply
    5. 13 days left @ toxic job

      Even beyond a personal check list, keep a record of what you’ve done on each project. That way, if some higher-ups have questions about why you’re not performing as quickly (particularly since you won’t have a manager that first week) you can give them the list of what you did and ask for guidance (are you spending too much time on one thing? Did you miss a resource that they forgot to train you on?)

      One of my jobs had an online portal where we all put every update we had on our cases and it was a really great way not just to prove your work but it was a SUPER handy training tool. If you ever didn’t know what to do with a teapot decorating problem, you could just search “teapot decorating” and see what Mark did three years ago and let that guide you. It meant new hires needed less training, since a lot of our information and knowledge was already collected. That’s less advice and more of a plug for a system like this, it’s very useful.

      Reply
    6. Nita

      If you have the option, maybe stay a bit after hours for the first few days to catch up on things. It’s much easier to learn new stuff and go through documents when the phone isn’t ringing off the hook, and the contractor isn’t demanding a resolution to some problem right this minute.

      Reply
      1. Loopy

        I may not have the flexibility to work extra hours but I definitely see the value in this! I may use after hours to collect my thoughts, formulate to do lists and questions, etc. Especially since I can do that comfortably at my kitchen table!

        Reply
    7. CynicallySweet7

      Hand calendar, post it notes, lists, and questions!!
      The calendar is to keep track of all your deadlines, what kind you are using doesn’t matter, as long as it’s visible and you’re consistent about updating it (I know there are people who use their e-mail calendar for this with success, but I’ve found that looking at an actual calendar is helpful, esp when juggling multiple deadlines).
      Post-it’s are great for questions when there’s multiple projects and no time to write out a guide for yourself. Write the question on the note and the answer under it, then stick it somewhere until you have time to write something more formal out (I keep the post-its on my cube wall organized by project). Then if/when you have some down time write the post-its up in a more formal guide.
      Lists!! I love lists! In the beginning they’re harder to make bc you might not be as clear about how much time things take to do, but a general ‘here’s what I need to have done by [day] ‘ is handy (just be sure to leave time for extra stuff to pop-up).
      Questions. There are a couple of important things to know about this part. 1) one of the most effective thing you can do is figure out who knows what, so you can be sure you’re asking the right people the right questions. 2) Write down the answers! A real fast way to use up good will is by asking the same question over and over again (clarification is fine, but not the same one). 3) Think about the question before you ask it and make sure you actually understand what you’re really asking. 4) Be confident enough in your skills to know that it’s ok to not always know the answer (A.k.a. it’s ok to tell people ‘I’m not sure, let me go find out’, I think this is essential even when you’re not new, but esp when you are it’ll typically be seen as a positive)
      I was in your place about this time last year, and the most helpful piece of advice I got from my manager (paraphrased) ‘No one expects you to know how to do all of this perfectly right out the gate. Show everyone that you’re willing to work learn/hard and most mistakes will be forgiven. If you get to far behind let me know so everyone else isn’t f*ed up too’. Obviously this’ll depend on you’re company and I’d imagine it’ll be harder working remotely, but I’ve found those tips to be really helpful. Also breathe, and from day one keep your inbox ruthlessly organized! Good Luck!

      Reply
      1. Loopy

        I also love lists. Clearing out my old desk I had so many notebooks just full to to do lists,notes, etc. I’m definitely going to be trying to figure out a format for all my lists so I can have it set up and ready to go on day one!

        Reply
    8. Ali G

      It’s OK to do things as they always have been done, even if you know you can improve them. Just focus on learning what you need to know and prioritizing what needs to get done when. Once you have some more knowledge on how stuff works, then start to try to figure out how to make things better/more efficient etc. But get through your ramp up phase first!
      Good luck!

      Reply
    9. Fiddlesticks

      Create systems so you don’t have to rely on your own memory for things!

      One of the things that’s hardest about stepping into jobs where you have to move fast, keep track of a ton of moving pieces and all across numerous projects is honestly keeping your tasks and to-dos straight in your head. To whatever extent possible, create a system that allows you to focus on maybe 3-4 things at once, and then once those are complete move onto the next batch of must-dos.

      For example, my Outlook is rife with rules so that when I open my inbox, where in aggregate I may have gotten 100-200 emails overnight, I’m actually only looking at 20-30 in my main inbox. The rest I’ve built rules to automatically file those away into folders which I will review when I have the opportunity/time/need. Of those 20-30 live ones, I go through them all immediately to determine if they fall into the “must do today,” “must do within 2 hours” or “can be done in five minutes.” The stuff for today/two hours gets flagged appropriately, and all the five minute items are knocked out within the first 15-20 minutes of my workday.

      That leaves me free to work my way through the de-escalating levels of urgency of my inbox afterward, while giving me a little leeway for if fire drills emerge or other “five minute” requests come through.

      Oh yeah, also, train yourself to send people acknowledgement messages when they come through with requests, because I’ve learned if you don’t (and don’t provide any sort of timeline), that one email usually turns into two or three or even a call when people are left dealing with the abyss of uncertainty.

      Good luck on the new gig!!

      Reply
      1. Loopy

        I know some people who have done this. I never have and I dont have a sense of how to apply the rules yet but I’ll keep it in mind for sure!

        Thanks for the acknowledgement tip- that’s a great one!

        Reply
    10. Not So NewReader

      One job was the fastest pace environment I have worked in or ever work in, period.

      The thing I did that saved my butt, is each night I would make a list of where I would start in the morning. Saving the few minutes each morning by being able to jump right helped an incredible amount. I never would have thought so but after seeing it first hand, I realized, that list from the night before is a powerful tool.

      I will say that because you are away from everyone they will probably expect less from you than they do of each other because of your newness. At the job I have now, I have a bullet journal type of thing to gather all the odd stuff that I deal with, random information I need to remember, how-to’s and so on. I have a separate small tablet for writing down projects that I need to attend to and might forget.

      Reply
      1. Loopy

        That’s a great idea. Sometimes I have sat down to organize thoughts outside of work just to calm my brain. Making it a routine thing might not be a bad idea for the first month or so!

        Reply
  15. writelhd

    hey say you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, and while I have mostly found that to be true, I’m still amazed, when I overhear our customer service reps talking on the phone, at how many people jump straight to vinegar and in general are just total jerks to the people who are trying to help them. Yet I also worry that perhaps in my dealings with subcontractors and vendors, I am being too nice, too “understanding” and thus letting them walk all over me, or at least not take adequate responsibilities for mistakes that are theirs, not mine, yet put me and my company in a bad position as a result.

    Do any of y’all have “caught more flies with honey” stories from your business world, especially as a customer dealing with a vendor or contractor?

    Reply
      1. Jack Russell Terrier

        I think if you’re talking about subcontractors and vendors (which is different from calling your credit card company to complain) it’s about developing the relationship so that you come across as courteous, kind, understanding, give credit where it’s due and being reasonable. Then you can point out in a firm and reasonable way that it is their responsibility for them to fix things that are their mistakes.

        Let me give and example – recently I had some of my wood floor replaced due to water damage. I used the company that originally installed the floor. I liked the point person very much. There was some issue over getting the wood from the suppliers, and I was patient about it – it wasn’t their fault and the point person thanked me for my patience with that.

        Then I saw the new contract. It had the company giving all liability for everything to me. Basically whatever went wrong they weren’t liable. I e-mailed her, mentioned this clause and suggested a different standard clause I had found absolving them of liability for things they couldn’t have foreseen (there was another clause forbidding me from changing the contract, which normally I would have done). This is a small company and the owner said he couldn’t change the contact and I should ‘trust them’. Over the course of a perfectly civil conversation, I told my contact that of course they wanted to protect themselves, but that it was reasonable for me to protect myself as well. That I had reflected this balance in the proposed clause change. It was unreasonable to expect me to sign it and I really couldn’t. I apologized for her being caught in the middle and said that I realized she was in a difficult position (this part was important). She said she’d talk to the owner again – and he agreed to my clause.

        This was actually a job that turned out to be jinxed all the way through. It was a small job for them, but all along the way I thanked her for help, referenced my appreciation for how she went to bat over the other conrtact issue and other ways she’d been helpful. But I was firm she had to come and see an installation issue because the installer had got very defensive. When she arrived, I gave her some homemade chocolate chip cookies because it was a long drive for her. She immediately agreed that the installation issue was obviously that they hadn’t taken up the last of the water damage and she got that fixed.

        I think ‘catching flies’ is really a combination of putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and articulating when you appreciate something and when they are in a difficult position, being understanding of things beyond their control and being reasonable. But being reasonable also means reasonable from their end – think through what is their responsibility to make right and why they have an obligation to do that and then present it in a straightforward, reasonable but firm manner. Your tone here is very important.

        As an aside – always check your liability clauses as this is the third time a vendor has wanted me to accept all liability for everything!

        Reply
        1. Anonym

          This is great. I’ve also had success (both in work and with contractors) with being warm, kind and firm. It’s a magic combo that allows you to build and keep good relationships without compromising on what needs to be done. And of course, as your story illustrates, being flexible when you reasonably can.

          Reply
          1. tangerineRose

            “warm, kind and firm” This!

            You want to be someone they can work with and someone who they can’t walk on.

            I’ve found it works for me to be kind, helpful, but persistent when I need to be.

            Reply
    1. 13 days left @ toxic job

      It’s very hard to be polite if someone isn’t being polite to you, but you’re not allowed as a customer service rep to be mean back so you have to come up with ways to deal with people yelling at you. My office has a competition for Who’s Been Yelled At The Longest. The rule is you cannot say anything or interject, and the record is 7 minutes and 15 seconds. Little games like that can help you cope.

      Reply
    2. blue canary

      Oh for sure. I generally am very polite and courteous as long as the person I’m dealing with seems willing to actually try to help me. There have been times where I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten free stuff/discounts/refunds just because I’m not an asshole to someone. And when I was in food service, people who were nice to me often got extra stuff that I’d never give to someone who was rude. I’m not rewarding that kind of behavior!

      Reply
    3. Jules the Third

      I work hard to word things constructively. What it has meant over the years is that I get listened to – if I say ‘X is a problem’, people take me seriously. I’ve seen a lot of regular complainers get dismissed until someone who complains less often backs them up.

      Reply
    4. Former Retail Manager

      Yes! I am currently in a position in which I hold the power and have the ability to take legal and enforceable action, but the other party must still participate. Think…..compliance related position. It’s a fine line in knowing when to be understanding and give a little and when to hold your ground, but all in all, I have tended to get better results when using honey. I have co-workers who also jump to the vinegar approach and some of them seem baffled at why virtually all of their interactions are contentious. While we may both reach the same end result, I find that being reasonable and polite is much less stressful for me and for them. As long as you are clear about your expectations with the other party from the beginning and the consequences for not meeting those expectations, I think you’re right to stand your ground, but you can do that without being mean or nasty.

      Reply
    5. Bea

      There’s a lot of working parts here.

      Are you certain your CSRs are well trained and pleasant to deal with? I’ll lose my mind when dealing with a handcuffed, script heavy CSR. I’ve had instances where I have had to call back to get another person to help.

      My first boss told me the most valuable thing that kept me sane in CS. “Some people are just bad people. It’s not you.” since if you’re helpful and they’re still rip roaring mad, that’s a case of “jerks gonna jerk.”

      I’ve had returns dealt with swiftly and fast service due to my generally kind demeanor while working with vendors. I’ve also had them mistake my kindness for weakness and were shocked when I turned into a rage beast taking out account elsewhere.

      Delicate balance. Default should be approachable and understanding at all times.

      Reply
    6. Drama Llama

      I’m on the reverse side of this. I am a generally polite person, and I learned that in some cases I need to be less polite and more aggressive.

      One example is when a hotel completely messed up my booking. When I politely tried to work with them to fix it it got nowhere. After a week of multiple emails back and forth I rang the customer service staff and made it clear I was furious. She only fixed the problem once she realised I was pissed and would be an annoying irate customer to deal with.

      I find that to be the case so often – if you are polite, customer service staff don’t proactively help you or offer any remedies to make up for their mistakes. It’s only when you get aggressive that they start listening to make you go away.

      Reply
    7. Girl friday

      Changing your attitude is always a great thing to do first. Sometimes other people are just crazy and there’s always something to learn from dealing with everyone.

      Reply
      1. Girl friday

        That was supposed to be under the Randy comment. There’s 7B people on the planet, so no one needs to go away.

        Reply
    8. LilySparrow

      Well, being courteous has nothing to do with letting people walk all over you.

      You can say “no” or “I need this to be done” or “that’s not going to work, how else can we solve this” or “I’m afraid that’s not possible,” or “this requirement is non-negotiable,” in a perfectly pleasant and courteous way.

      I find that if I start out saying, “I have a problem I hope you can help me with,” that sets up a positive dynamic, where the two of us are on the same team addressing the problem together.

      And then if they can’t fix it, I can say, “Thanks for trying. Is there someone else who might have the ability to change this?” Or “Well, I have to make this happen somehow, so what is my next step here,” or “What alternatives can you give me?”

      You don’t have to be a jerk to be assertive. Mostly its about listening to the other person, not talking over them, and addressing their concerns in a practical way while being clear about what you are able or willing to do in return.

      Reply
    9. Not So NewReader

      From the other side of the story: My husband did service calls. The people who stood out in his mind were the folks who always seemed to have something on hand to offer him. Whether he accepted or not, was beside the point in his mind. The point was the acknowledgement that he was present and helping them. Additional bonus points went to the folks who remembered he was a diabetic (he would mention it after they asked a few times.) These folks would have a diet tea or bottled water available for him.
      The way he paid them back for their extra concern was with extra tips or pointers on handling their machine. Sometimes he would sneak in a little training or do a small extra repair at no charge. While no one in this story did anything big, the impact over time was a very good working relationship. An amazing number of people do not even “see” a tech and just ignore them entirely.

      Reply
    10. Quinoa

      Oh YES! I’m originally from the West Coast, and when we do business phone calls there, it’s always direct and to the point. “Hi. This is Quinoa from Teapots, Inc. I’m calling about…” So when I moved to the Midwest, I was FLUMMOXED with my first several business calls, which always began with the other person saying, “How are you today?” after I introduced myself. Literally caught me up short and made me pause to recalibrate.

      Which is why, when I went back to work a West Coast event and had to talk with an IRATE vendor that one of the other staff had pissed off and then some by being an ass, I used that magic on THEM. “Hi. This is Quinoa from major event. How are you today?” They were all ready to launch into an attack, and my sincerely asked question threw them completely off their game. Since I knew the staff member had been an ass, I was also able to listen sympathetically to their complaints, which was really what they wanted. To be heard and acknowledged and apologized to and told how much we appreciated them. We finished that phone call with them happy to have talked to me.

      From then on, I was known in the organization as the Vendor Whisperer.

      Reply
  16. Anon One Time

    Finally heard back after 4 rounds of interviews, then 3 weeks of complete silence. I’m the leading candidate, and only candidate in serious consideration, but it’s time for interview number 5.

    No worries though. There is a business need for the 5th interview and I know I’m going to crush it.

    Reply
  17. So anon today

    Hoo boy, I have a workplace dilemma today. My organization hired a new executive, “Ralph,” who started this week in a prominent role. Ralph mentioned that he used to work at the same company as my husband until last year. I asked my husband about him and it turns out that my husband and I have two friends who used to work on Ralph’s team.

    Emphasis on “used.” They both left that company because of Ralph. They have nothing but awful things to say about Ralph; according to him he’s an incompetent, lazy, arrogant a-hole. Ralph was fired after less than six months there. Now, our two organizations could not be more different and the roles are different, too, so some could be chalked up to fit. But this sounds a lot worse than that, and I trust what my friends say. They are smart, hardworking, very low-drama people. I’ve actually heard them talk about this guy a bit in the past, but I didn’t know his name.

    Ralph is already working here. There’s nothing I can do with this information now except keep my distance, right?

    This is a small enough organization that I will have to interact with Ralph some, but I think it can be relatively minimal—I’m not in his reporting structure and we won’t even be based in the same location. I have good relationships with our leaders but I’m afraid of looking like a gossip-monger who only knows one side of the story secondhand if I share this information now. I generally have great faith in our leadership team and I know they care about both high performance and excellent relationship skills, and they haven’t been afraid to let low performers or bad fits go in the past. If problems arise I know they’ll address them. But it’s tough to have such strongly negative information now, but without knowing all of the facts for sure, about someone we just hired into a prominent position.

    Do I just keep all of this to myself and wait for the likely-inevitable disaster to strike?

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      What level are you on compared to Ralph? What kind of relationship do you have with the hiring manager who made the decision to hire Ralph?

      If you’re close to the same level and you have a good relationship, I think you could bring up that you know some people who used to work for Ralph and you’re curious about how he portrayed his tenure at Company X. If you’re very junior and/or do not have a solid relationship with the hiring manager, it will be a lot more difficult for you to bring this up without looking like you’re gossiping.

      Reply
      1. So anon today

        I am very junior in my organization, but we’re also very small (under ten people, but growing quickly), so I currently report directly to the CEO and have a great relationship with her. I’ve been here ten months, and while I know I have a great reputation internally I just don’t know whether I have enough credibility yet to insert myself in this particular situation with one-sided secondhand information.

        Reply
        1. Cheesesticks and Pretzels

          I would stay out of it. At this point you only have hearsay evidence on why this guy left his last job and his reputation. It is not worth potentially harming your good reputation you have been building to take what amounts to as gossip about this guy. If he is as horrid as others have said, he will hang himself given time.

          Reply
    2. writelhd

      yeah, I’d say probably so. The decision’s been made. You’re not going to be in the direct line of fire much. If he got fired after 6 months in his last job, sounds like he’s capable of making his own bed, especially if you trust your leadership team to deal with problems if they arise.

      Reply
    3. BetsCounts

      I think you should say something. Even if your office is good about doing due diligence re: references etc., this wasn’t 5 or 10 years ago, but at most 18 MONTHS ago. How much can a person change in a year and a half, even if the organization and tasks are different? You can soften it, mention you obviously didn’t observe any of the behaviors, but I feel you should say something, even if it’s just to alert people to be especially attentive to these types of problems.

      Reply
    4. Alternative Person

      I’d keep quiet unless it gets brought up to you and I wouldn’t say anything (t00) damning, sometimes a ‘huh’ and a raised eyebrow is enough. Also, make sure you cover your ass when you do interact with this guy.

      Reply
      1. So anon today

        The good news is that Ralph’s former company is huge and has thousands of employees locally. Despite knowing that my husband works there, none of my coworkers would ever expect that I would have heard something about this guy–it’s actually really surprising to me that I have friends on his former team since the company is so large (those friends aren’t even mutual LinkedIn connections between me and Ralph). So if I choose to keep my mouth shut forever and ever, no one would guess that I had information I was keeping to myself.

        Reply
      2. Jules the Third

        What AP says – don’t volunteer the information, but use it to filter your reactions.

        And document every interaction you have with him – good or bad. That can help cover your rear but also gives you a way to combat confirmation bias if he has changed for the better.

        Reply
    5. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.

      I think this is a “Not your circus, not your monkeys” situation. Ralph sounds perfectly capable of aiming at his own foot.

      Reply
      1. SQL Coder Cat

        This is what my co-workers and I call a “Not your circus, not your elephants” situation. Because with monkeys, there may be some goodwill to be gained for helping corral them, but when the elephants break loose it’s best to stay out of the way.

        Reply
    6. June

      What happens if you say something but he has changed? Then it looks you were spreading gossip about a new hire for no reason AND second guessing mgt’s decision. I would leave it alone.
      The good news is you know about his past and not to hitch your wagon to his. Most of us don’t learn that info until it’s too late. You already have a head start to avoid him.

      Reply
    7. Not So NewReader

      Let the chips fall where they will.

      If anyone says anything to you, you just tell them the truth. “I found out some information after Ralph was hired. My problem was that I did not see the issues first hand, I was running on what others said.” For people who are senior to you, you can say you had no way to verify the info that came too late anyway.

      For people who are peers or lower on the ladder than you, “I later learned that Ralph and I know some of the same people. But I am not sure about what happened at Ralph’s Old Place so I can’t speak to that.” Here, you are not sure what happened because you were not there.

      In both cases make the statements with a flat disinterested voice. It’s helpful to even act distracted by a task at hand. People will give up and move on.

      Reply
    8. Anne (with an “e”)

      I would not say anything to anyone. I think it will make you you bad and like a gossip, as you fear. If Ralph is truly as awful as you’ve heard, it will become obvious to the powers that be in due time. In the meantime, you can be vigilant and circumspect around Ralph and try to stay out of his way.

      Reply
  18. Sloan Kittering

    I am leaving my job in one week. I have to get through five more days of people saying they’re sad to see me go and will miss me – but I’ve actually *had it up to here* with this job and have been intensely searching for over a year now, so I’m just SO HAPPY to be leaving that I can barely receive these comments without responding something flippant like, “really? that’s weird. I can’t wait to be gone.”

    No advice needed, just wish me luck in faking it a little bit longer … one more week! One more week!

    Reply
    1. Another Person

      Best of luck and congrats!

      When I was on my notice period at toxic job, I literally had people come up and tell me to stop looking so happy about leaving.

      I didn’t. I just told them I was really excited about my new opportunity!

      Reply
      1. Sloan Kittering

        Yeah, I don’t want to rub it in haha. But there’s all sorts of boring stuff everybody’s talking about right now, and I’m just over here like “this isn’t my problem anymore!” BIG GRIN. I really didn’t want to be this way, I should have left months ago (and was trying!). I’m just completely burned out now and DGAF. I just need to keep it together a little longer so I don’t undo all my patient years of building up a good reputation by being the person who ran out yelling WHEEEEE and throwing the papers over my head.

        Reply
        1. Another Person

          Before I left (after a painful months long job search!) one of my colleagues said to me, you know after you go management is just going to blame you for everything anyway, right? Your name will be mud here.

          Still, it feels nicer to be kind to the people being left behind (ALL my colleagues eventually came to me individually and confided they were all mired in their own job searches and were more than a little jealous.)

          Reply
          1. Triplestep

            That’s normal, though. When someone leaves a job, things tend to get blamed on them for the first few months after.

            Reply
    2. amanda_cake

      I am leaving soon too (counting the days). I love my job, but I am burnt out and ready for something in my field. I also have a lot to be excited about–moving, new house and new things, spending time with my cousins, etc. I’m going to pick them up and spend about a week with them (2 boys, 15 and 8 years old). They are going to help me pack up things, move a few things that I don’t want the movers touching (like my craft supplies!) and we are going to do some fun stuff (hiking, a trip to the caverns, etc.)

      I think a lot of people are jealous that I’m leaving so the comments have driven me insane. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

      Reply
    1. Emi.

      I really love being able to carry “credit hours” from pay period to pay period (I’m hoarding my actual leave for maternity leave), and I will really miss it if I ever leave the government.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous Educator

      Honestly, paid vacation/flexible schedule and salary.

      I mean, obviously, I want autonomy, a manager who trusts me, the tools to do my job, a pleasant work environment, etc., but I don’t consider those perks, just symptoms of a good working environment.

      In terms of actual perks, it’s really just about time off and money. I’ve worked places with a free lunch catered, and that’s nice, but it’s not really that important to me. I can pack a lunch. I’ve worked places that give you gifts or bonuses. I don’t really want a bonus; I want a higher salary. I’ve worked places that have “fun” days or team bonding activities. I consider those work and not perks at all.

      Reply
    3. Angela B.

      Flexible work schedule! Something I used to have but have no longer, although the trade off is way better benefits and salary, so I’m dealing with it and hoping to get to the grade level where I don’t have to clock in and out any more.

      Reply
    4. ThatGirl

      Flexibility in scheduling, especially if I just need to leave 15 minutes or half an hour early.

      decent coffee. My last job did NOT have good coffee, this one’s is much better.

      A cafeteria, which is actually something I miss from my last job; this building only has a faux-convenience store. (But it’s so much better in other ways.)

      And because I work for a baking and decorating supply/education company, we get cool little perks like free mini-classes and chances to help test-bake recipes.

      Reply
    5. Sloan Kittering

      My boss doesn’t care if we come in late (fifteen minutes late to about 30 minutes late is completely no big deal, not even noticeable – around an hour late would be an issue). It seems crazy, but that’s worth a lot to me.

      Reply
    6. Emily S.

      Health benefits, and paid vacation top my list.
      Although, our health insurance isn’t as good as it was in the past — and the cost of drugs is ridiculous!

      Reply
    7. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      The big one: flexibility. I’m not kept to a particular schedule (although I keep pretty regular 9-5 hours). I would struggle so much if I had to go back to a more time-structured environment.

      The other big one: my organization considers all tenure (not just tenure with this org) when determining PTO accrual rates. So, because I had 15 years of experience when I started, I jumped to the second-highest PTO level. I’d never go back to just three weeks or whatever the entry-level is in other orgs.

      Reply
    8. SpaceNovice

      Health benefits, vacation, salary, and flex time. Continuous education is also important since software engineering changes so much even year to year.

      Reply
      1. Faith

        Same here. I want to work reasonable hours, have control over my schedule, get paid the going market rate for what I do, have my family’s medical needs met, and have enough time off to allow me to travel and actually spend time with my family. I don’t care if the dress code is formal or casual, if there is cafeteria/gym/pharmacy on campus, if the company caters lunch/provides free coffee/allows you to bring your dog to work/etc. None of this will make up for sucky health benefits/little vacation time/being underpaid/rigid schedule.

        Reply
    9. AnonEMoose

      PTO and flexibility are important to me, too. It’s really nice to be able to email my boss and say “working from home today.” I don’t do it often, but it’s nice to be able to when I need to.

      It’s also nice that I only have to pay for 50% of my transit pass.

      Reply
    10. Ann Furthermore

      Flexible hours and schedule, which I’ve had in my last few jobs and honestly I don’t think I could ever go back. When I broached this with my boss when he interviewed me, he said that most people come in around 8:30 or 9. I said that I like to get an early start so I can be available for family stuff in the evenings. He responded with, “You’re a professional person. You can manage your own time.” Yes, please, I would love to work for you!

      Free bus/light rail pass. I’m putting maybe 5 miles a day onto my car driving to and from the train station, and then I can bury my nose in a book for 45 minutes and not sit in traffic. I go in early before it gets too hot and take the train that stops on the other end of downtown, and walk to the office, which is a nice 20 – 25 minute walk.

      Treating PTO the way it’s supposed to be treated. I was unable to put in 4 hours of PTO for a day I took off recently and was told that since I’m salaried I get paid for any day where I work at all. I know that’s legally the way it’s supposed to be done, but this is the first job where I’ve ever been prevented from using a half day of PTO.

      Double edged sword: free donuts on Fridays. I’m powerless against them.

      Reply
    11. Ann

      Right now? Showing the World Cup in the cafeteria.

      In general: flexibility – as long as I’m here from 9-3 and get my work done, nobody cares what time I get in or leave. I also like that while my job primarily requires me to be in the office (because I need to have physical access to things), I can work from home when needed as long as I let my manager know.

      Reply
    12. Tabby Baltimore

      Flexible scheduling, work autonomy, and the ability to use sick leave and PTO in 15-min. increments.

      Reply
    13. Linda Evangelista

      Definitely work from home flexibility. I didn’t have this at all in my last job, and now I have a set day every week that I can work from home, plus any flexibility I might need in case I get a cold or something but can still work.

      Commuter reimbursement – where I live, my commuting costs are under the max amount we can have reimbursed every month, so I don’t have to pay for the bus, which is nice!

      Reply
      1. AnonEMoose

        Dress code matters to me, too. I’d still be ok with business casual, but would not be happy in an environment where I had to wear full business wear.

        Reply
    14. zora

      Flexibility in schedule: I am hourly, nonexempt, so it’s not super flexible, but it’s important to me that there are no clock watchers here. If my bus is late, and I’m 15 minutes late coming in, no one even notices much less makes a big deal out of it. They trust that I will work what I am getting paid for and it all comes out in the end.

      Culture stuff is paid for. I really like that none of that stuff is coming out of my pocket. I’m happy to have drinks with my coworkers once in a while to have a nice working relationship, but the company is paying for it. If I have to spend my own money on work lunches and happy hours, I’m much less happy about it and it becomes a work task, not a fun thing that makes me enjoy the place I work.

      Office aesthetics. I love our current office: Hardwood floors, big windows/glass walls, nice lighting in addition to the natural light. I like that it’s bright and airy and colorful. I really hate the drab gray depressing cube farms with terrible fluorescent lighting, it really does affect my mood spending 1/3 of my life in those places.

      Reply
    15. NoodleMara

      Not having to work weekends and getting holidays off paid. It sounds pretty basic but at my previous job I soooooo didn’t get them. Also since I work for a university I get that sweet sweet journal access. Plus all the training stuff from Lynda dot com which I mostly use for my personal projects.

      Reply
    16. Anonym

      In-house medical office, bar none. Not that I’d expect to find it everywhere, but they’ve saved me so much money in healthcare costs, given excellent recommendations for GP and specialists, and they even identified an unusual and progressing condition that I hadn’t realized was a problem.

      They’re not full service, more like the school nurse, but they can do some prescribing and standard lab tests.

      Reply
      1. Anonym

        Oh, and seconding everyone above, flexible hours and work from home option. Unless things get desperate, I don’t intend to ever take a job without them in the future.

        Reply
    17. Candy

      A perk that is also really important to me is that we’re all paid for the week the university closes between Dec 25-Jan 1. That’s in addition to the 25 days paid vacation I get a year. I passively look for new jobs every once in a while but it’s hard to go from 6 weeks vacation/year to just having the two weeks vacation time I’d start with if I found a new job elsewhere.

      Reply
  19. Anon for this

    My manager did something weird last week and I’m trying to figure out why. I have two managers who share an office, which has two desks on opposite sides of the room. The department filing cabinets are also in their office, and It’s not uncommon for other people in the department to go in to pick up or drop off files.

    One of the managers, Joe, has only been here a few months. When he started the job, he set up his desk with some office supplies and a few personal items (family photos, framed professional certificates, etc.). I went into the managers’ office last week to get a file, and Joe’s desk was completely cleaned out. My first thought was that he had quit his job and left! But nope, he’s still there. Some people, including the other manager, have asked him about it and he has been very evasive (he responds, “Don’t worry about it,” or “Everything’s ok.”). But it’s freaking weird, right?!

    The only theory I’ve heard is that someone may have played a prank involving Joe’s belongings and this was how he reacted. There are some people in the department who like to play pranks that are annoying but not mean-spirited (e.g., covering someone’s monitor with post-its or hiding someone’s coffee mug). One of my coworkers confessed to doing something — the manager had paper clips in two compartments of a desk organizer, separated into large and small, and the coworker put one small paper clip with the large ones and one large paper clip with the small ones. I’m not a fan of pranks in the workplace, but even I think that was pretty innocuous and wouldn’t warrant such a reaction from Joe. Plus, Joe is a manager, so if he had a problem with someone messing with his belongings, he should just say that he wants people to leave his desk alone.

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Is it possible that Joe is separated/divorced/having some other family issue and decided to remove all personal objects from his office?

      Reply
    2. BetsCounts

      it is pretty weird. I knew I was going to quit my last job several months before I left, so before I went on a long-ish vacation I cleaned out my office and took most of my stuff home, and the fact that’s he’s being evasive about it makes it weirder! I am super nosy so I would be dying of curiosity, and in fact *am* dying of curiosity!

      Reply
    3. Sloan Kittering

      I’d think he’s probably been put on a PIP or has given his notice. One of the first things I did when I knew I was leaving was start packing up my personal things – I didn’t want to walk out with a ridiculous massive box. People who fear being fired do this too, as sometimes you can’t get your stuff back – and you don’t want to be perp-walked out while clutching a massive peace lily …

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        I doubt he’s been put on a PIP, if only for the fact that he hasn’t been here long enough. He’s still learning the ropes, but he hasn’t made any major screw-ups, and he is well-liked. People have straight up asked him if he’s been poached by another department and he swears he’s here for the long haul in our department.

        Reply
    4. Xarcady

      Someone I supervised did that once. Walked into his shared office one day and all his personal stuff was just gone.

      A manager from a different department had yelled at him for making a mistake that a) was not a mistake and b ) not a job he was working on. He had cleared out his desk because he was seriously thinking of quitting because of the interaction with the other manager.

      I was able to calm him down, and use the incident to prove to the owner that Other Manager was becoming a problem.

      It’s possible Joe just decided to go minimalist at work. But my gut feeling is that something has changed about how Joe feels about working for your company.

      Reply
      1. RedCoat

        I actually did this… sort of. I was desperate to escape our call center, and had gotten turned down for an internal position because “they couldn’t afford to lose me in the call center” (I was doing literally double the amount of work of the next person, and x4 what our expected KPI was supposed to be). So, I took most of my personal items, just about everything other than what I needed to work, and packed it up, put it in my car. I didn’t say anything about it, if anyone asked I said I was just doing some spring cleaning. I didn’t make it a big deal to my coworkers, by I think management got my message and things started drastically improving over the next few weeks (including A LOT of my improvement ideas). Was it 100% the desk thing? Probably not, but damn it felt good to make a point.

        Reply
        1. TheCupcakeCounter

          The “we can’t promote you because you are too good at this job” line is the WORST thing a company can say too an employee. They think it is a compliment but the reality is they just guaranteed my exit post haste. If I am that important then prove it through my compensation and growth opportunities or I will take my awesome self elsewhere.

          Reply
      2. Windchime

        I used the “spring cleaning” reason at my previous (toxic) job. Things were going downhill fast, so I started moving out. Basically all of my personal items were gone when I finally left. Honestly, management was kind of stupid for buying my “spring cleaning” excuse.

        Reply
    5. Anonynony Today

      I have a difficult coworker who occasionally just likes to get nasty with people, then is fine.

      I was raised by jerks, so it’s not fine with me.

      When this happens, instead of losing my temper (…so far), I pack up some of my personal stuff and take it home. When my life settles down, I’m going to figure out whether to stay here, but for a few years this has been a pretty good coping strategy.

      Reply
    6. CareerSwitchMaybe?

      That’s odd… maybe he noticed the paperclips and then heard about the other pranks your coworkers did, and decided to take anything valuable out of the target zone? It could also be something more personal going on, such as people commenting on the photos of his family but they’re going through a rough time.

      Reply
    7. savethedramaforyourllama

      Not to totally be a drama-monger here, at my last job we had an employee that committed suicide (not at work) and I went to go “clean out her desk” and there were zero personal items there.

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

      Three thoughts:
      How much personalization do the others (especially the other manager) in your office do at their desks? If he’s new he may have noticed after the fact that nobody else has those things on their desk and got a bit spooked that he was an odd one out.

      The paperclip thing is so trivial that I know I wouldn’t even notice it myself; so if he even noticed something as tiny as a two paperclips in the wrong compartments, he is really sensitive about his “territory”.

      This one is more for people who have been at their job for a while but, sometimes I get sick of looking at the same things day after day so I “redecorate”. Also, in my line of work, I somehow collect all kinds of flotsam that eventually needs to be tossed. So for a bit it might look like I’m getting ready to quit as I get rid of the old stuff. Maybe he has a lower threshold for boredom or clutter.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        Other people personalize their desks to varying degrees. The other manager has a few photos and certificates — much more stuff than Joe. It’s not just the personal stuff that he cleaned out, though. He took EVERYTHING off his desk. There’s not so much as a pen there anymore. He took all the binders and folders off his shelves. It’s possible he hid everything away in drawers (I didn’t open his drawers to check), but it’s very unusual for anyone to have a completely empty desk. He’s definitely the odd one out now. I’m not sure if he even noticed the paper clips, but that is the only thing anyone has admitted to touching on his desk.

        Reply
        1. Catalin

          Maybe he’s trying something, like practicing minimalism or some similar mantra. Like feng shui, or one of those ‘successful people do X’ things.

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

          I’m assuming that some of those binders and folders and office supplies are actually company property so that goes beyond just removing personal items then. He sounds like he is bothered by sharing office space to me. I share an office too and sometimes the more cluttered my mates get, the more minimalist I become just to balance out the room or stakeout my ground.

          Reply
    9. Technical_Kitty

      The paperclip thing may seem innocuous, but what it says is “this space is not safe from me”. I’m not sure it would warrant such a reaction either, but it depends on the person and how they feel about their personal space treated as public. I wouldn’t take all my things home, but I would definitely have a conversation about appropriate office behaviour and whether or not we need to go back to locking our desks.

      Reply
      1. Arjay

        Yes. For me it depends on if the desk organizer is on the desk or inside a drawer. On the desk, it wouldn’t bother me too much. In a drawer would. I don’t mean to be overdramatic, but that just reads as creepy to me. I remember the letter about the person who found a bullet on their desk, and I have that same sort of visceral reaction. Someone intentionally disrupted my things in a very deliberate fashion. Yikes.

        Reply
      2. foolofgrace

        Yes, “this place is not safe for me.” It seems that a lot of people wouldn’t be bothered by or even notice it, but I would, and it would make me wonder what else was being sabotaged. It would piss me off to have my stuff messed with. If you need to take some paperclips or something, fine, but pranks like this bother me.

        Reply
  20. Kramerica Industries

    My team has recently undergone a coincidental high turnover where 4/6 of colleagues have been with the team for less than 6 months. I’m one of the most senior employees at 2.5 years. Lately, we’ve had a high volume of work and it’s been rather stressful on all of us. From talking to my new coworkers and my own experiences, I feel like morale has been quite low because we don’t feel like we’re getting adequate support.

    I have an excellent relationship with my manager and she’s one of the nicest and most optimistic people I know. The most recent example is that she sent us all a long email outlining feedback that she has received from other work groups and that we should make sure to follow process. We received this email first thing in the morning and she was not in the office to answer questions. My coworkers and I talked about the email and felt like we were left wondering if any of us had been making mistakes (this was not addressed), if she was trying to address someone specifically, and felt like this would have been better as an in-person meeting to talk over these issues.

    When I told my manager factually that the delivery of her email left us with questions and that it it felt unsupportive during a time when we were already stretched, she said it wasn’t her intention and that she just wanted to make sure we were following process. I totally understand that, but I’m not sure she really gets that the delivery of the message delivered a blow to our morale. Even if unintentional, shouldn’t it still be addressed? I want to tell her that by denying her (or anyone else’s) intentions, it feels like she’s turning a blind eye to the fact that it left us feeling bad and confused. Am I able to someone confront how she addresses feedback?

    Reply
    1. SpaceNovice

      Yeah, that needs to be addressed. Unintentional hits to morale still hit morale. You might be able to sit her down and talk to her about it again, but come up with a game plan ahead of time. Other commenters probably have better suggestions, though!

      Reply
    2. Martha

      I have been in your manager’s shoes. I was so deeply stressed out trying to keep my head above water and trying to keep the workload at something resembling reasonable for my team that I lost sight of most everything else, including parsing communications for potential hits to morale. Talk to her, please. I wish my team had talked to me. From your description, it sounds like she’d very much want to hear that feedback. But also do be aware that as crazy as things are for the full team, she’s likely getting it just as bad if not worse. So be as kind as you can.

      Reply
    3. Phoenix Programmer

      I think you are better off having a big picture moral discussion instead of pointing to this one off.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Yep. I’d go with something like this:

        Boss, we are feeling a bit stressed and stretched because of the turn over in help. We are all feeling a bit maxed out. You are a good boss and we like your leadership style. But we are kind of at a loss about the process list you sent. What are we doing wrong? What would you like us to do better? We aren’t getting what it is you want you think we should change about what we are doing. It’s a little too cryptic/obscure for us to fish out.”

        If she apologizes or not is really beside the point. And you will make your point about the email by asking her to review it. “We don’t get it. Can you go over this? We are pretty sure this means we are doing something wrong but we can’t figure out what.”

        If she is as good a boss as you say she is, then she will instantly recognize her misstep here. Part of her explanation of the email will include an apology such as, “I am sorry that was not clear. I meant for you to do X not Y and I did not do a good job explaining that.”

        With a good boss don’t let stuff like this fester. If you guys are standing around talking about it, it’s only going to feel worse in your minds not better. Your best bet it to go to the source as quickly as possible.

        Reply
  21. Southern Girl with Two Names

    Does anyone have good advice for navigating “having someone call you by the right name”?

    I’m a consultant, and in my professional life I go by FirstName MiddleName- think “Billie Jean”. In my private life, I go by FirstName only – “Billie”. With people in my own company I find it easy to correct someone when I introduce myself as “Billie Jean” and they call me “Billie”, however with clients, especially clients that I only interact with via email and Skype and have never met face-to-face, I don’t know how to correct them in a quick, polite manner- especially if they call me the wrong name on a group email or during a conference call. Is sending someone I’ve never met and haven’t worked very closely with an instant message saying “Hey, wanted to let you know I go by Billie Jean” polite and not over the top? Is there a better way to handle things in the moment? I don’t want to put anyone on the spot, but I do want to be called by my correct professional name.

    I ask because I can be very blunt which can come across as impolite, so I’m not sure how to very “polite and breezy and friendly and very don’t-worry-about-it-no-trouble-at-all” tell someone “Hey, my name is Billie Jean, not Billie”.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      “It’s Billie Jean,” and then immediately proceed with whatever you were going to say.

      But it may be a losing battle. I had a boss whose first name sounded a lot like a last name and whose last name sounded a lot like a first name (think Boseman Chadwick). My boss would correct people all the time, people who had worked with us for years and should know better. There’s only so much you can do with people who are just careless about details like that.

      Reply
    2. Murphy

      I think if it’s voice, even on a conference call a friendly “Oh, it’s Billie Jean, if you don’t mind!” should do the trick.

      Text is a bit trickier, because it’s easy for something to be read in the incorrect tone. In a group email, I’d probably let it go, unless you were replying to them personally. Even in text, something like “I prefer Billie Jean, if you don’t mind.” could still work. I like “if you don’t mind,” because it doesn’t sound demanding. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be called by your preferred name of course, but it can soften it if you’re concerned about ruffling feathers.

      Reply
      1. Keyboard Cowboy

        I do this pretty frequently when people try to shorten my name into a nickname. My name is (not really) Lucinda, I prefer to go by Lucinda, with the begrudging expectation of my family who has a tendency to still call me my infanthood nickname of LuLu. (And who’s going to correct their grandparents?) But when someone at work tries to call me Lu, I say, “Oh, please just call me Lucinda, I don’t like nicknames!” with a smile. Or if I have already a good rapport/friendship with someone I’ll be a little more forceful/humorous – “Don’t you dare call me Lu! That’s not my name!!! Argh! Haha!”

        Reply
    3. foolofgrace

      One of my pet peeves is when I get a reply to an email of mine and they misspell my first name — which is obviously right in front of them when they reply and yet they misspell it anyway. How hard is it to spell my name right? I’m always temped to misspell their name in my reply but of course I take the high road. But it bugs me and I feel very undervalued.

      Reply
      1. Fish Microwaver

        I get you. I have been at my office for 5 years. I have an ordinary name that can be spelled different ways, think Jarrod/Jared/Jarryd etc. Our org recently gave everyone a lapel badge with first name prominent and surname smaller. I am Jared, my badge says Jarred. When I mentioned that it would be nice if people’s names were spelled correctly my boss , who I have repeatedly told how to spell my name, sai ” oh well, we’re all human”. This same boss picks people to pieces for errors that are not their fault. I feel dismissed and disrespected.

        Reply
  22. Not So Recently Diagnosed

    This is so long, I’m sorry guys.

    So, this doesn’t really impact me, as I managed to move departments, but I wanted to get your opinions on something. In my old department, about a year ago, my manager left for a new position. This was a small department, only myself and my coworker. Well, I was the senior member of the team at that point, but had no interest in management (I know my strengths, management is not one of them). Rather than promote my coworker, they instead hired someone from outside the company. I was fine with this (coworker was not), and it’s been…an adventure.

    This new manager is incredibly incompetent. Don’t get me wrong, he is incredibly sweet, and genuinely wants to do well, but he is 100% computer illiterate. Our job is not IT, but works heavily in formatting documents in programs like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Nuance PDF. When he first started, he didn’t know how to save anything to a share drive. No problem, we taught him. And then we taught him again. And again. And again. Until finally, coworker and I just started going in and cleaning up his messes in the shared drive because that genuinely took less time.

    He prints off every email he receives and keeps them in files on his incredibly over-crowded desk. I had to teach him how to type in cells in Excel. Two or three times. When I was leaving the department and he would be taking over one of my duties, I sat down with him and took him through the process (this was the second time, I had done it about a month earlier also) and them made him a document with step by step instructions, including screenshots, of how to do it. Later that week, I heard from a coworker in another department that he had approached her and asked her to teach him the process, claiming no one would even SIT with him to show him. Even now he makes frequent mistakes in the process.

    We work a lot in pre-made Word templates. Now, I’m no formatting guru, but I can work in these templates just fine with a little trial and error to get things the way I want them. While we trained him (because we had to, he came from outside, and lets not even get into the way training your own manager can rub), he expressed that he liked to write out his responses in an unformatted document first, then paste it into the template, which was fine. I took him through how to do this and told him to let me check his work once he had done this, and please let me know if he had any questions. When he sent me his finished work, he had completely broken the template. I had to literally start from scratch on the document because he had broken the formatting on page 3 and had not asked me for help, just continued on for another 15 pages, finding new and interesting ways to destroy a Word template. This was meant to be his first “solo” mission, so to speak, and it ended up making twice or more the work for me. This happened so many times that the option became either to sit over his shoulder while he entered things into the formatted doc, taking us away from our work entirely, or to allow him to answer the work in his unformatted doc, and then have US enter it into the templates FOR him. Please understand, we weren’t being impatient, this went on for 6-7 months before I left the department and is still on-going. We went to our grand boss about it, but the sad truth is that, due to office politics, this guy isn’t going anywhere.

    There are about a hundred other examples, but that’s actually all just background. When I moved departments, they hired two people to replace me. As my manager is not able to work with the tracking program that is essential to our job, my coworker took over training them. My coworker is, understandably, pretty salty about the manager, seeing as coworker wanted the job to begin with and is now doing the job of a manager in training these recruits (as well as the admin duties in the tracking/reporting software that our previous manager handled). However, I still sit within earshot of the department, and know that during the training, coworker basically told the trainees that new manager is incompetent, a pain to work with, and that they should basically tune out some-to-most of what he says so that he doesn’t confuse them.

    Now, here is where I have the issue. I didn’t breathe a bad word about the man to the newbies at all while I was doing my part in training them. To me, it felt unfair. After all, just because we didn’t like him doesn’t mean someone new might not take to him in ways where they could both learn from one another. I feel like my coworker made it so that new-manager didn’t even have a chance with these new folks, and it rubs me the wrong way. I can already see the way they dismiss new-manager’s ideas (which aren’t all bad, really, it’s just his implementation that is infuriating), including knowing looks and eye rolls when he’s not looking. Maybe I’m just a little too caught up giving people the benefit of the doubt. While it’s true that the newbies would have realized the situation sooner rather than later, I feel like they should have at least been able to go in expecting to respect this guy, and that just…didn’t happen.

    So, what are your thoughts? Do you guys think it was fair and good for coworker to warn these guys? Or was it a bit of misstep on coworkers part?

    Reply
    1. Reba

      I think the eye-rolling and other disdainful behavior on the employees’ part is immature and unproductive, but I absolutely think it was right for your coworker to warn them. Just maybe not in the exact terms Coworker did. It sounds like the issues with that boss go well beyond the framing you give of “not liking him.” It’s not about being nice or giving him a chance or something. If I were in the new employees’ shoes and had not been warned in one way or another, I’d be angry about it.

      Reply
    2. The Tin Man

      I definitely thing it was a misstep for the exact reason you mentioned – it colored how they view him when they could have had a fine relationship with him.

      Thank goodness you are out of that mess in terms of job duties, if not office space.

      Reply
    3. Angela B.

      I had a similar situation at my previous job where a coworker who was leaving overlapped by about a month with a new person, and because they were similar in age and temperament, it made sense for them to hang together, but I’m pretty sure in that month, departing coworker completely destroyed new coworker’s faith in her department’s ability to function normally. There were definitely a lot of problems, but the end result was that new coworker went in with a terrible attitude towards her department almost from the get-go, and I really think it negatively impacted her morale even more than just figuring out the place was nutty would have done. Personally, I would have taken your approach and gone with if there’s nothing nice to say, say nothing. If it’s as bad as that, the new people will figure it out and figure out their own way to deal with it, but if you poison the well immediately, it creates this us versus them mentality and robs you of all the yay-new-job optimism that personally is so crucial to getting started somewhere new. Plus that takes away the chance for a new person to realize that actually they *can* work or connect with this difficult and/or incompetent person in a way that most everyone else doesn’t, so now maybe you’ve lost the incompetent-boss-whisperer you might have had.

      Reply
      1. BlueWolf

        I was the “new person” in a similar situation you describe. I took over for someone who was leaving and he was training me on his duties. He didn’t trash talk too much, but did mention some issues he had concerning our department’s management. He always tried to frame it as “not trying to scare me off, just giving me a heads up”. It made me a little concerned, but I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and don’t rock the boat really, so I didn’t really let it color my opinion of anyone. However, I could see how someone else with a different personality might react differently.

        Reply
        1. Angela B.

          In this particular case personality was definitely a part of it, but I think that reinforces the point–you don’t know how a new person is going to react to the information, because they’re new! They might handle it well, like it seems like you did, or they might handle it badly, like my coworker. FWIW I think the best way to go about it if you *are* going to go about it is as you describe, the heads up approach rather than the talking trash approach.

          Reply
    4. RVA Cat

      “So, this doesn’t really impact me, as I managed to move departments…”

      Not your circus, not your monkeys. I’m sure other people overheard the bad-mouthing and some of them have more standing to do something that you do.

      Reply
      1. Not So Recently Diagnosed

        Oh yeah, as far as how much it actively concerns me, it’s minimal at best. I’m honestly just curious what people think. I have a reputation for being endlessly polite, to my own detriment (see the part where I know I’m not management material), so on a personal level, I sometimes want to check my reactions against a trusted populace to see if it’s something that’s worth looking into changing or working on.

        Reply
    5. Jennifer

      It’s debatable. I’ve tried warning someone about a bad manager (this one fires you if she decides she doesn’t like you) and it did no good. Now I give up.
      But I think it’s legit at the same time to warn someone that a manager is so incompetent that you shouldn’t be counting on them for anything. I don’t think I’d make it personal on the insults, but either they find out now or figure it out later.

      Reply
    6. Double A

      I’m in a similar situation, but in needing to diplomatically warn a new coworker about our support staff person. I tried to keep it to mentioning specific performance-related issues that can affect how we do our jobs, and expose us to risk. I also talked about her strengths. I did also mention that our personalities don’t mesh that well, so I try to be mindful of separating out performance from personality when discussing problems.

      But someone who can’t do their job despite intensive training, documentation, and hand-holding is infuriating. If you can’t use basic computer programs that are essential for your job, you are not qualified for your job.

      Reply
    7. krysb

      I had one of those as an employee… for 5 years. I moved him to sales. Not a helpful answer, but I totally commiserate.

      Reply
    8. DaniCalifornia

      I dont have any good ideas on what to do I’m sorry.

      BUT…you can absolutely make word templates that cannot be saved over. The person using them has to save them differently. I would suggest looking into that for the future!

      Reply
    9. Not So NewReader

      Since this type of thing happens all. the. time. I think that putting a negative or positive value on it is just wasting precious energy.

      Here’s the thing, when people are incompetent, other people WILL talk about them behind their backs. It’s a fact of life, it’s that predictable. Honestly, I can’t pay too much attention to people who want to portray everything as peachy keen when it isn’t. And going the other way, when I started working and tried to have a positive attitude all the time, I found that people tended to avoid me because I did not seem reality based. They believed I did not know how to handle problems that came up.

      I am not saying you are a person who portrays everything as peachy keen because, let’s face it, we don’t know each other. However, you are not in your coworker’s shoes.
      Think about this scenario: Coworker tells newbies, “Do A, B and C.” Boss sweeps through and says, “No, don’t do A rather do T instead. And when it comes to B, do X or Y. Then C, you can just skip.” So now the newbies are saying to your coworker, “WTH do we do now?!”
      And how many times could you go through this scenario before you start spitting nails? If you answer with a number greater than 3, you are a much better person than I am. Seriously, I can’t work like that.

      Overall it is what it is. We can’t protect people from their own selves. You could not protect this boss from his massive and constant mistakes and you can’t protect this cohort from making what seems to be a professional slips in judgement. This is simply cause and effect playing out. Incompetent bosses tend to draw out unprofessional behavior in most people. There is nothing you can do here but let it play out. You extracted yourself from this situation which is the best thing you could do.

      Reply
    10. ..Kat..

      You say he is sweet and genuinely wants to do well. You are being too kind. Instead of following the step by step instructions that you made for him, he went to someone else and LIED. He has done nothing to improve his computer skills – rather he wastes his employees time by making them go over and over the process with him. His employees waste time cleaning up his mistakes. This is not the behavior of someone who is sweet and genuinely wants to do well. That being said, would YOU have wanted to be warned?

      Reply
  23. CurrentlyAnonDev --> SpaceNovice

    I’ll be handing in my notice today because I’ve accepted a job offer! It’s a $10k raise, a much shorter commute, and they’ll give me a chance to learn how proper software engineering works while developing my own skills. No more being personally blamed for failures caused by a lack of personnel with expertise and no software development process. Not sure how my boss will react, but I no longer have to worry about the PIP that was setting me up for failure (trying to shove a year long development effort into 2 months, for starters). The new place not only has an internal training program but will pay for continuous education. They also have women software developers, including the one that interviewed me and made me more excited to join the company than anything else. She was awesome!

    Also, switching back to my regular account name and revealing myself. Thank you everyone here and Alison for helping me realize that I wasn’t crazy, that I needed to get out, and advice on how to do so! I’ll be taking a week vacation in between jobs as I know other commenters have done.

    A funny bonus: the HR manager at one of the other places ended up calling me to say they weren’t going with me but liked me personally; I just needed more skills to address some immediate needs and the assignments where I could get those skills were too far of a commute. We actually were fully in agreement and had a nice discussion including feedback on what I needed to learn. But I was entirely thinking of AAM during it since she CALLED me, ha. I don’t know if it was her usual MO or if it was that she read me as preferring it in that case.

    Reply
      1. SpaceNovice

        People really like working there because they get to decide their own projects and they hire for attitude/potential instead of straight up check-boxing what languages you know and don’t know. So yeah, I’m excited!

        Reply
    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace

      Congratulations! That’s so awesome that your new place has both the internal training and a continuous education budget! (Also a woman in software development, and the commitment to training/continuous education is one of the best parts of my current job!)

      Reply
      1. SpaceNovice

        There’s a lot of us women software developers here, I’ve realized! Which is great. I specifically looked for a company that does training/continuous development because I’ve seen how fast my skills can grow when given a chance, and my current company isn’t giving me one. Can’t afford how much I’m falling behind other candidates getting better experience.

        Reply
    2. SpaceNovice

      And my notice is turned in! He’s sad to see me go, but he says he understands why I did it in my position. He still things that I could’ve gotten the project done in time…. Poor guy.

      Reply
    3. WalkedInYourShoes

      Congrats! I am currently interviewing and feel like I am almost “there”. It’s great to hear your success story. Good luck!!!!

      Reply
  24. Shy and Introverted

    What do job listings really mean when they say they want someone with “Excellent *oral* and written communication skills?”

    For context, I’m a shy introvert who is horrible at phones, so I’m trying to avoid applying to jobs that require being on the phone a lot, spending a lot of time talking, or giving presentations.

    It seems like most jobs list a variation of “needs excellent oral communication skills.” I’m not sure if that’s a sign I should avoid the jobs, or if it’s just a generic thing that means “can talk coherently when needed” so I should be okay as long as the job listing doesn’t mention things like phones or presentations or frequent customer interaction.

    Reply
    1. Amber Rose

      I think that if the job listing doesn’t mention presentations etc. you should go ahead and apply, but also be careful during interviews to ask questions about how much speaking is involved.

      Reply
    2. Flinty

      Maybe I’m not understanding your question, but no, I don’t think “oral communication” is code for “on the phone all the time” unless there are other indications of needing to be on the phone a lot!

      Reply
      1. Flinty

        Ah, sorry, somehow got focused on the phone thing – you are also asking about presentations, etc. I still think it’s true that “oral communication” by itself usually just means that it’s not impossible to understand you when you speak.

        Reply
    3. Sloan Kittering

      Yeah this is a toss up, it can just mean they want someone they can talk to clearly (in person, like colleagues and your manager) or it can mean in presentations or on the phone. I’d apply but check what they expect from the position around these things.

      Reply
    4. SophieChotek

      I agree. First, I would say most jobs I have seen seem to throw that in.
      For more internal office jobs/not public facing – it may just mean “ability to communicate coherently with your co-workers, express your ideas, etc.”

      Like others have said – what other clues does the job describing/key qualification/key skills suggest:

      Such as:
      – be contact person for outside vendors (or stakeholders) [this could be mostly email, but it could be in person]
      – rep the company/brand at events [probably suggests feeling comfortable in groups/public settings]
      – present the brand at events or prepare reports [might suggest public speaking or at least internal presentation]
      – sales [almost guaranteed to suggest phone/in-person]
      – customer service [also almost guaranteed to suggest phone/in-person, unless you know from the get-go this company only does customer service via chat or something like that]
      – wording like “greet customers” or “be first contact for our clients” – probably phone or in-person….

      Reply
    5. writelhd

      It probably depends on the context of the job, but generally I would think if giving presentations is a big part of the job they’d say so–though that doesn’t mean you’ll never ever ever in your career have to give a presentation if they don’t say it, just depends on the role. And if it’s a job that requires a lot of phone time, that might be evident from the nature of the job–like sales or customer service rep. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never have to use the phone ever. So without other context I usually think it does mean “can talk coherently when needed” but with with the added element of “is game to talk occasionally on the phone, or speak up in meetings, or smile and pleasantly at customers when you pass them by in the hallway, and just in general be game to communicate to anyone as needed in any way needed” as job requires.

      I will add that I used to think I was terrible at speaking on the phone and was very nervous and afraid doing it. I struggle doing things like ordering pizza. And my role is not that of a sales or customer service rep where phone is a big piece of it, but I do have to call people sometimes, like vendors to ask questions, customers to give a piece of technical information to, agencies to ask technical questions, etc. I really very learned how to do it, and it doesn’t give me hardly any anxiety anymore. maybe a slightly difficult call might give me a little bit, but nothing at all like the crippling anxiety I used to feel.

      Reply
    6. SpaceNovice

      Most jobs seem to be throwing this in now. They usually mean “can actually talk to someone and explain an issue when it happens”. Companies want people who can use their words. In some companies, it might mean more.

      Reply
    7. Mimmy

      Ohhh I can completely relate to this! Before I got my current job as a part-time instructor (not like a classroom instructor–I work 1:1 with my students), I had every intention of find a job that was more “behind the scenes”. I’ve been looking again and I still recoil when I see ads that say they want “good oral/verbal” communication skills. I enjoy interacting with my students and many have said they enjoyed my class, I sometimes think I am not coming across coherently, especially when I’m trying to explain a technique.

      Anyway: As others have said, it is likely one of those catch-all phrases included in boilerplate job announcements. I like the idea of looking at how the job is described and inferring from that, though this can be difficult if the description is vague. I will keep following this thread for further ideas.

      Reply
    8. Kuododi

      A possible suggestion from a person raised by a painfully shy introverted engineer father. Daddy struggled most all of my life that I can remember with oral communication, phone conversation, presentations at work etc. Two things he did which he found quite helpful was to participate in Toastmasters, and Dale Carnegie courses. They really helped him to be more confident and comfortable with different methods of communication. (Disclaimer….he was never changed from an introvert to a high energy extrovert…..he simply seemed to find a healthy balance between the two extremes.). Best wishes to you.

      Reply
  25. Nita

    I have a (probably) stupid question about purses. After a few years with a backpack, I finally got myself a nice new purse. I think it was that post about backpacks looking unprofessional that tipped me over the edge. The new purse is just the perfect size to fit my things, no bigger or smaller. It doesn’t seem to be built differently from other purses I’ve had. Problem: all the papers in my purse somehow roll up. I tried keeping documents in a manila folder, but it also folds double and slides to the bottom of the purse. Even my spiral-bound notebook somehow rolls up. This morning I was convinced I’d lost it, until I pulled everything else out and found it nestled in an impossible position at the bottom. I don’t know, maybe my new bag thinks it’s a magic purse that should only carry scrolls, and is bigger on the inside than on the outside… but how do I keep my papers from looking all chewed up?

    Reply
    1. T3k

      Have you tested it with something sturdy, like hardbook cover material? I’ve found the only way to ensure my stuff doesn’t curl even a little bit in my purse is to put it inside my kindle case, sketchbook, etc.

      Reply
    2. Fishsticks

      You may want to get a skinny binder or folder that’s heavily reinforced to carry papers in. You could also try a clipboard, but I feel like that would just end with the papers getting ripped.

      Reply
    3. Buckeye

      Is there room in your purse for a padfolio to store everything? They’re usually sturdy enough to not roll up and can be found pretty cheap.

      Reply
    4. Dawn

      Hard sided document folder or portfolio! They come in tons of styles, from simple plastic to very fancy leather wrapped. Search “Document Folder” on Amazon and there should be some very useful results.

      Reply
    5. Ambpersand

      They make expanding plastic document folios/files that you can use that are sturdy enough they should stay in place and would fit in a purse. We use them all the time in our office and they’re typically big enough to fit both papers and notebooks in.

      Reply
    6. TheMonkey

      Sturdier pad-folio type thing? The leatherette/leather kind with the zipper around the outside should provide some more structure and resist the pull of your Bag of Holding.

      Reply
    7. Curious Cat

      I carry a tote to work, so I totally get this issue. It’s obnoxious! I recommend getting a hardcover folder or a very thin binder to keep all your papers in. I also made sure to buy a notebook that’s hardcover, as well (and I’ve had leather notebooks before, too, which don’t curl up).

      Reply
    8. On Twos

      A pressboard report cover might be sturdy enough to tuck your folder into without adding too much bulk. Even a plastic file folder will hold up a little better. (Yes, those are a thing! They’re pretty durable.)

      Reply
    9. SpaceNovice

      This is a physics problem. When you are carrying the purse, you move the purse up and down. The bouncing causes things to slowly slide, and the other contents help move the process along. You don’t move entirely straight up and down, so there’s some movement over time that just causes things to slide.

      Solution: you’ll need to get something entirely rigid that will hold your papers. Alternative solution: add some sort of pocket to one edge of the inside of the purse. Third solution: don’t put flexible stuff in it (this solution I don’t like, because I love purses that are perfect for me, and I totally get you). Last solution: if you have an inside pocket that’s near the same height of things you want to carry in your purse, you can clip things to it with a binder clip.

      Hard things can be: clipboard with a clip big enough to hold a notebook in place, a rigid fabric folder that would be less likely to slip, a thin enough rigid binder you can stick things in, a portfolio holder, etc. No need for anything specific. You find what works. You can probably reduce the sliding by having the item positioned on the side closer to you.

      This happens less with backpacks because they rest differently and tend to squish flat against contents within them, holding stuff in place. The force is directed downwards. Purses create a moment arm on objects stored near the edges, so things slide to the center. Especially if there’s heavy objects that are cruel and like to beat up other objects within it.

      Reply
      1. Nita

        Yes, I think the physics here are working against me! I bet it’s the giant lunch box being the bully and squishing everything else down. I didn’t think about making sure the papers are on the side closer to me, but will try and see if it helps!

        Reply
        1. SpaceNovice

          Oh yeah, probably 100% the giant lunchbox. It might actually pin it to the side of your purse if you put it in the other way! You could also try tying them to the lunchbox or putting them in a sleeve on the lunchbox if it has one. What you should do is check what’s going on your purse more often and make adjustments/changes until the problem is eliminated. Good luck!

          Reply
      2. WillowSnap

        I like pocket folders (yes like the high school kind!) instead of tabbed office file folders. They hold up better because of the coating.

        Reply
    10. Mimmy

      I’m curious about the type of purse you have – I’ve been using a backpack myself but mainly to hold shoes so that I can swap from shoes to sneakers for taking the bus. I know I could simply keep my sneakers in a drawer at work, but I only work 2-3 days a week, so it’s not feasible to do this. Plus, with the backpack, weight is evenly distributed, making the walk to and from the bus stop more comfortable (as opposed to a purse that’s weighted on just one side of your body, which is not healthy.)

      Reply
      1. Nita

        It’s kind of tote bag-shaped and soft, but not so soft it squishes flat if I put it down. Only, I’ve always had purses like that and this wasn’t a problem. Maybe this one just has an extra-slippery lining. And, yeah, it’s definitely less comfy than a backpack – but at least I don’t have to take it off to look for keys and other little things!

        Reply
    11. RocketSurgeon

      Clip board or piece of masonite cut to letter size.
      Or instead of using a spiral bound notebook get a Black&Red notebook (hardcover).
      Or get a slim vegan leather portfolio that will hold your papers.

      Reply
  26. Wannabe Disney Princess

    So, the co-irker I’ve complained about (chews out support staff AND vendors) has not gotten any better. Earlier this week a bunch of us went to lunch and all levels of management were there including my Great-GrandBoss (his GreatGreat-GrandBoss). They started discussing him. And his boss was defending his behavior saying he just gets flustered easily and that they’ll give him email templates to use externally.

    I mean, that doesn’t stop him from coming to my desk and steamrolling over me. Or sending me and the other admins accusatory emails. Or not taking responsibility. But, hey. At least he’ll have templates to use.

    Reply
    1. Middle School Teacher

      I don’t know if co-irker was intentional or a typo, but either way I love it and I’m stealing it :)

      Reply
  27. BRR

    Any tips for when you feel completely unvalued and unappreciated at work? My morale is pretty depleted. I’m a team of one and report to a manager who is only partially familiar with my area of work. He’s overall a good manager but just doesn’t understand what I do and it’s been a struggle to show how well I’m doing. I’m the first person to do what I do at my employer so there’s no internal comparison and my field doesn’t really have quantifiable metrics that I can measure myself against.

    In addition, I feel like people don’t respect what I do. There are projects that I should be involved with but my coworkers aren’t including me and they know what my role is. I’ve been strongly advocating for myself but it just seems like nobody understand the value that I bring. I never considered myself to be someone who needs external validation but apparently I need at least some.

    I would love to look for a new job but unfortunately I’m stuck here for a while because I’m not vested in my retirement plan and it’s a sizable amount of money. I would love to hear what advice people have. I’m in therapy but my amazing therapist is hit or miss when it comes to workplace matters. Thank you in advance! I really appreciate the wisdom of the commenting base here.

    Reply
    1. Wannabe Disney Princess

      I’m in the same boat. And I’ve started pointing out *why* I’m important/need to be included/I’m really freaking good at what I do. It feels weird at first. But I’ve noticed the more I point it out, the more others notice it.

      Reply
    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      Do you have any vacation time? Can you take some time off so they realize the impact that *not* having you around has?

      Reply
      1. BRR

        Ooh that’s a good idea. While I can’t take the amount of time off I need for my absence to be noticed, I think I can arrange things so they feel the difference of not having me around.

        Reply
      2. Boat is sinking...

        I’m in the same boat as BRR and I do have vacation planned, but its with my family where I get kind of treated second class there because I’m not married/have kids, so my vacation is just switching one undervalued environment to another.

        Reply
        1. ..Kat..

          Please please please consider vacations without your family. Your family does not need to know that you are not at work. Find people who value you and vacation with them, or just go somewhere by yourself. Or staycation.

          Reply
    3. T3k

      Mine’s probably not the best advice, but I just had to learn to detach myself from the situation. Essentially, I was in a similar job like that (even had one coworker who never used the programs I used say that my job was “easy” yet she couldn’t even grasp the basic functions of them). Eventually I realized nothing was going change in that job, and once I reached that point it became a “I’ll do what I can, but I’m not going to overexert myself” situation.

      Reply
    4. Murphy

      I have no advice, but I sympathize. I’m also an unappreciated team of one, and my manager has little interest in managing.

      Reply
    5. writelhd

      I can sympathize, I am in somewhat of the same position as you. I am the only one doing what I do. Some people do not understand it at all, a couple people are quietly and occasionally openly hostile to it and I have to work with them anyway, but I am fortunate that I have others here who do see the value of what I do, clients who value it, and my boss understands what I do to a point because he did it himself long ago–but not to the level that I do now, and a long time ago now.

      Even without it being as bad as you, I still feel like I just gotta go walk around the parking lot and think sometimes about how I’m coming off, what I’m fighting for, is any of this stuff I’m doing effective or working and ugh. Why is this person just hostile to me no matter what I do, ugh. One thing that has helped me recently is to read the book “The subtle art of not giving a f__#”. It helped me get over some of the free floating anxiety that comes from nobody understanding what you do but you and getting some hostility from some people about it. Another thing I did was try to do some drilled down, serious thinking about my job goals, and instead of trying to tackle all of them at once, I picked one project a month (or so) to actually do to completion. I tried to really think through what really were the most impactful to the company, and it does help me reaffirm the value of what I do. The book that stuff comes from is the book “the four disciplines of execution”–something my boss actually made all the managers do, and I found that some of those things did help me improve my feeling of value to the company.

      Reply
      1. BRR

        I’m definitely putting myself on the waitlist for the book at the library. I definitely have free floating anxiety about this and am looking forward to absorbing how it can help me improve my feeling of value.

        Reply
    6. TCO

      I’ve worked in a lot of “team of one” types of roles, and it can definitely be isolating. One thing I’ve found really helps is to develop a network (whether formal or informal) of your peers at other organizations. It eases the isolation and the group can be a good problem-solving resource for issues like bosses who don’t appreciate your role or the challenge of measuring your impact.

      I know this may or may not work for your situation but there’s a chance it could be helpful. I’m sorry; I know it’s tough to be in your position.

      Reply
    7. SpaceNovice

      Have they had it explained to them while your role is important? Why it helps their jobs be better? What you can do for them?

      My coworkers at my first job basically circumvented the configuration management process until I helped them understand the benefits. It also really helped that I was open to their feedback. What you’re doing is new to the company and they’re unfamiliar with how it helps them.

      Your position is new, so it’s not surprising they don’t understand the value you bring, and they can’t just magically understand it, either. It’s entirely normal for everyone to be frustrated, both you and them, with that. They might also be afraid to look like idiots around you and thus won’t include you, because that would mean they have no idea how your job works.

      They need training and materials to back up that training. But you also need to work with your manager to develop a way to start getting your position integrated into projects more formally. Pilot project, then start building out your position in other projects from there. Make adjustments and allow people to give you open feedback, making sure to emphasize that your job will be custom to their needs, and you are there to make their lives easier. Perhaps talk to people you work well with to get their opinions on this entire thing. If people are heard and have some sort of say in what happens AND know how it benefits them, people will accept new things.

      That’s basically how I went from 0% compliance to 100% compliance for the configuration management process. People were not afraid to ask me questions or give me feedback because I always was warm, never considered anyone stupid, and appreciated their views. More than once, we made changes to how we did things because someone else pointed out they had a unique challenge that made the process different from them.

      Good luck! It’s entirely solvable.

      Reply
  28. LibrarianNoMore

    Hi All!

    I’m in a bit of a pickle and am running out of ideas. I’m a Librarian, but I am 1000% certain that the job isn’t for me. Between the sexual harassment, physical harassment, and lots of other stuff (sidenote, please don’t touch your librarian without permission!!!), I don’t ever want to work in another Library again. Ever. (This includes academic and special libraries.)

    I started applying for jobs six months ago, but no one wants to even consider me. I’ve followed all of AAM’s advice religiously (and rewritten my resume a bunch based on it!) but suspect my jumpy background (I worked for a few years in different jobs before getting my Masters) is hurting me big time.

    I still want to stay in research, and have found jobs that work…but I get no where. I had a great phone interview, but afterwards I got a rejection. I’ve even tried just starting out as entry level in other roles (like PR or communications), nada.

    I can’t stay here forever. I can’t afford to quit, and I’d really rather not have to. I’ve been here for two years, and I’d rather transition straight to another job so there’s no gap on my resume.

    I have been networking, have tried contacting recruiters (they don’t even respond once they’ve seen my resume). I’ve written a billion versions of my resume, and just as many personalized cover letters.

    Am I missing anything? Is there anything else I can do? I feel like I’ve screwed up big time, and don’t know how to get out of this mess. Any thoughts/advice is much appreciated. (Oh, and besides using AAM I’ve also asked trusted people for advice, and no one has anything beyond what I’ve already done.)

    Reply
    1. BetsCounts

      not much advice but I’m sorry the field is so gross for you! I am so grateful to all the librarians I had when I was a kid, both in school libraries and at the public ones so hearing that the job is lousy is v disappointing. Do large law/architecture/design firms have need for archives management? I imagine it must be hard for companies to understand why you want to leave a position/industry you spent so long getting qualified for, but I’m sure you touch on that in your cover letter. Sending good thoughts!

      Reply
      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore

        I’m glad to hear that you’ve had so many wonderful librarians. There are many fantastic people in the field fortunately!

        Thank you, I appreciate it!

        Reply
    2. Sloan Kittering

      Okay, totally off the wall, but I have a friend in a similar situation and they decided to just start over – went to bartending, said they’d rather work an hourly job than stay in their public-facing, but no protection from the public job. They’ve made a whole career in the trades now, are a restaurant manager with a passion for brewing, seem perfectly happy and don’t regret their choice. Sometimes blue-er collar fields have less emphasis on having this perfect past resume, and you can always keep your eyes out for that corporate librarian/research job while doing something you enjoy more day to day?

      Reply
    3. Catwoman

      Is there any kind of volunteering you might be able to do to help you get more relevant experience for the roles you’re interested in? For example, if you’re thinking about museum work, could you volunteer as a docent to network and learn about the work?

      Reply
      1. EB

        That was my thought– I was also thinking reaching out to people in the field and doing informational interviews (a la “Designing Your Life” a book I highly recommend to LibrarianNoMore). In this case she could pick up valuable information about the jobs she’s interested in AND perhaps also get advice from people in the field on how she can target her cover letters/resumes better. Would definitely take some legwork but should be doable as a weekend/evening type thing where you don’t have to quit your dayjob.

        Reply
      2. FutureLibrarianNoMore

        I don’t think so, unfortunately. I’ve looked, and most volunteer jobs around here are either helping at animal shelters (which, awesome! but can’t just pet puppies forever haha) or loading/unloading things.

        I will definitely keep my eye out though, thank you!

        Reply
    4. LibraryBug

      I feel you. I’m on my way out of libraries but I’m pursuing a certificate/2 year degree to transition into a completely different field.

      I’m not very informed on the field you’re trying to break into so I have no advice about whether or not the long job search is normal or not.

      Is it possible to temp? That might at least get you out of a position that you hate, give you some experience in the field and hopefully build some connections?

      Reply
      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore

        I’ve tried contacting recruiting firms and they don’t even reply :(

        Can I ask what certificate you decided to get?

        Reply
    5. SpaceNovice

      You’re looking for a company that would be okay with you transitioning to another career as a newbie, basically. If you’re already addressing that in your cover letter and interviews, good. Employers will totally take a chance on a candidate switching from one field to another, though, so don’t give up!

      If you want to stay in research, maybe look into data analytics? Or something else related to that. In some cases, you can find certificates that are widely respected in an industry that you can get to PROVE you can do something. You need to somehow prove you can do the work. You have good skills of dealing with everyday people, so that’ll be good for things like business analysis, if you learn the generality of what you need to do. If people think that you’re just changing jobs without a plan, they’ll reject you. But if they realize you’re SERIOUS, that you’ve given it thought, that you’re really ready for that change, many more will take a chance.

      Find a thing in particular you want to go into and laser focus on learning some general information about industry norms, what’s important, etc. You’ll start using some of the same language that employers are looking for naturally. Add that with realizing what you have a passion for, and you’ll definitely get hired.

      Good luck!

      Reply
    6. Anon anony

      I have my library degree, but diverged and went into special libraries like non-profit-associations (which might be a great option for you with your research background.) I also have experience working with records management. Museums might be another option? I’m trying to think of options that would work with your academia and research experience. Keep looking and as others have noted, volunteering somewhere might be a great way to get your foot in the door.
      I’m sorry that you’re so miserable in your current place. I hope you find your dream job soon!

      Reply
    7. Grits McGee

      Have you looked into records management? I’m a government archivist, so I’m not sure what the private sector looks like, but it should let you use the IS of your MLIS.

      As far as research, this is going to depend on your geographic location, but I have a friend who was able to get a job as a researcher for a think tank in the DC area. Pay wasn’t that great, but the free food was!

      Reply
      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore

        I tried, but I’ve only found jobs that required a HS diploma, so I assume they just don’t have the same level of job where I live (Midwest).

        Unfortunately I can’t afford to live anywhere else at this point, and I already moved here from another part of the country. I’m still paying off debt from the move, so I’d rather not add to that.

        Reply
    8. LilySparrow

      I had a temp job once for a media company in the products/merchandising division. They kept an archive of video, still images, concept sketches, prototypes, presentation boards, and all that sort of thing. A lot of it was digital, but there were also physical items and of course a lot of things were stored on CD/DVD for space reasons.

      The archivist definitely needed library skills and was a big help to designers doing research on older products.

      I’d imagine that many types of firms that aren’t purely “research” oriented would need similar types of archives. Anything dealing with physical product design, marketing campaigns, all kinds of things.

      As a matter of fact, one of my current freelance clients makes home-and-garden products and has a massive database of marketing images and packaging designs. I don’t know if they have an archivist, but they could use one!

      Maybe broadening your search to different industries.

      Reply
  29. Tableau Wizard

    I was looking up a recent applicant on Linkedin, and I can see that we’re 2nd degree connections, but I can’t figure out how to see who we have in common.

    I swear, I used to be able to do this. Did something change? Am I missing some feature that I don’t know about? Is there a way for individuals to disable this feature?

    Reply
    1. Murphy

      I just took a look, and I can’t figure it out either. I went to one of my connections pages and on there it showed our mutual connections, but not on a 2nd degree.

      Reply
    2. Delphine

      If you search for their name in the search bar it should tell you the shared connection in the results.

      Reply
    3. Llama Wrangler

      On my LinkedIn, if I click on their profile, there second section (under name, connect, etc) says “Highlights” and then it lists our connections.

      Reply
  30. Queen of Cans and Jars

    How do you avoid being negative about your job in an interview? I’m trying to leave because my current workplace is about 95% dysfunctional. I just had a phone screen & they asked me about my experience with several things that I would LOVE to do if I could get buy in from my colleagues and/or some kind of resources. It was really hard to come up with an answer that wasn’t, “well, if things weren’t so screwed up, this is what I’d do.” The tasks are things that are normally associated with my role. I’d love some suggestions from the commentariat!

    Reply
    1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

      Yikes, been there. You have my sympathy.

      I’ve had some success navigating these questions by saying things like “At Employer, Other Team has responsibility for Project,” and then proceeding with “this is what I’d do if it were my responsibility,” as you do. Where I ran into most issues was the actual knowledge gap that came from not owning the tasks normally associated with my role. IME, it’s hard to not be negative about it when it’s so obvious how badly it’s affecting your professional growth. But people do hire candidates with strong knowledge, judgment and professionalism that make up for an experience gap. Practice your creative spin wording to gloss over your employer’s shortcomings, talk up the experience you do have as well as your ideas, and trust that you won’t be stuck in your current situation forever.

      It’s a very tough spot but you are so far from alone in having this issue. Good luck!

      Reply
    2. CAA

      You really don’t have to avoid saying anything negative, just be honest and factual, even if the facts are negative. It’s fine to say things like “unfortunately I don’t have much experience in that are because my current company doesn’t follow that practice, but I’m familiar with it and would implement it by …” or even “actually, one of the reasons I’d like to move on from my current position is because I don’t have the opportunity there to do that task, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I think it’s important because …”

      Reply
      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

        +1 – this is a better way of putting what I was trying to say above. Being matter-of-fact is fine and good, you don’t have to editorialize but you also don’t have to try to cover for what’s wack at your current job.

        Reply
        1. tra la la

          I’m actually really glad to read this. I have been trying to leave a dysfunctional workplace for awhile and my last second-round (full day) interview left me very spooked because I did have to answer a number of questions by explaining how my workplace does things (often in problematic ways — which I can’t help, hence my applying elsewhere!). I was really interested in the job — it would have let me draw on my strengths in much more positive ways, and I so wanted to focus on what I could bring to *that job*. The various interviewers kept responding by saying things like “why is your workplace doing it THAT way?” and I wouldn’t know what to say, because I *agreed* that it didn’t make sense and *wanted* to be somewhere where things might not be done that way, but felt that I was being too negative. (I am in a field that REALLY values positivity). Finally I got kind of called out towards the end for being too negative and was asked how I would fix the problems at my current workplace. I kept it together but I felt like bursting into tears — if I knew how to do that, would I be interviewing someplace else? I haven’t been on another second-round interview since (I’ve been taking a break from the job market for some personal reasons) but the experience left me really unsettled.

          Reply
          1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

            Oooof I felt this in my gut. Sorry you had that experience. Been there too – once had an extremely awkward interview where the person kept asking me to back up and explain how my (now-officially-former!) employer does things because he couldn’t wrap his head around why it was so weird. At the time it felt so unfair because it felt like I was being taken to task over decisions that weren’t mine, but I couldn’t just outright say what I felt without sounding like I was throwing my employer under the bus.

            Generally, though, I could explain any weirdness as “it’s a large organization.” Which is a partial truth – I didn’t have to add “and it’s stuck in the mud even compared to similarly-sized peers, and toxic to boot.” If pressed I’d say something like “senior leadership feels that [dumb thing, described neutrally] serves the organization best” or “I would like to see X implemented, but we’re not ready for that at this stage” or something, and move on quickly. So I guess if I had any advice to offer it would be find some neutral-sounding way to explain away what sucks and some neutral-sounding way to explain why you want something different so you’re not like “please for the love of everything holy, save me from this dysfunctional mess.”

            Good luck!

            Reply
            1. tra la la

              Aww, thanks for responding. I like the idea of “we’re a big organization.” Actually, what I kept saying was that we’re a very siloed organization (which is 1000% TRUE, is a common issue in my field, something I do not like about where I work, and I’m one of the rare people working as part of a strong crossdepartmental team which gets no attention, so… PLEASE LET ME UNSILO, teamwork YAY!) and then I got called out on that I was saying that too much! That and some other things about the interview made me feel like they had made up their mind about me before I got there and were primed to take me saying anything other than that as just me making things up. Maybe I need to just decide I dodged a bullet???

              Reply
  31. August

    I’ve got an interview coming up (yay!), but I’ve got some anxiety about it. It’s the first interview I’ve ever gotten using networking– I knew the woman who used to manage the position, and when I let her know I was applying, she offered to pass on my resume and act as a reference– but I can’t help but feel like I’m cheating? The youngest person on the team is ten years older than me, the salary is higher than I’ve seen for other entry-level positions, and the job description is just vague enough that I can’t tell how much experience the position requires. I can’t shake the feeling that this is just a pity or nepotism interview.

    Adding on to my anxiety is that fact that I just found out I have pneumonia, and had to call the reschedule the interview (which was initially meant to be on Monday). Does anybody have any experience with/tips for fighting this kind of anxiety? At this point, I feel like I’m going to walk into that interview and completely blow it.

    Reply
    1. Ambpersand

      Honestly, as someone with pretty bad anxiety myself, you need to stop thinking about it. That’s only going to make things worse. Focus on getting plenty of rest and feeling better and practice your interview skills in the meantime. You wouldn’t have gotten the interview if your contact didn’t think you were a viable candidate. So many people get jobs through someone they know or an “in,” it’s so common! I got my last two jobs because I knew someone. I hope you feel better soon though, and good luck!

      Reply
    2. OtterB

      You’re definitely not cheating. It doesn’t sound like the connection is close enough for a pity or nepotism interview – they don’t want to waste their time and wouldn’t have you in if they didn’t think you were a viable candidate.

      Seconding the advice to rest up and feel better.

      And go by Alison’s usual advice that the interview is a two-way street. They want to hire a successful candidate, and you want to be hired into a role you will succeed in. I suggest you go back over your relevant experience and, since you’re having anxiety that sounds like it might lead you to downplay your skill, sum it up for yourself with an emphasis on a positive spin. (Instead of “I really have very little experience in Z, although I’ve done some X and Y,” you would be more like, “In Projects A and B I used my skills at X and Y to help achieve the team goals. I haven’t had full responsibility for task Z, but I’ve done this and that piece of it and it’s an area where I’d like to grow.”)

      Reply
    3. Jules the Third

      You’re not cheating – they’ll figure out if they think you’ll fit the position, and the position specs / pay were set before you applied.

      Rest and practice if you can. Gaming out various issues (ie, someone asks ‘do you really think you’re qualified for this job’ and you reply, ‘I think it would be a stretch, but one that I am capable of making because skills a, b, c are transferable) will help soothe your anxiety.

      Reply
    4. SpaceNovice

      People won’t offer that unless they like the candidate. So she likes you. It kinda does feel like cheating, I know. But a good candidate can be taught to do anything, even if it means it’ll take some time to get up to speed. My brother ended up in a position far senior to what he really should be in because his boss liked him from a previous job and knew he could be taught whatever he needed to know.

      Look into more about what sort of questions that you’ll be asked in similar positions and prep for them. Index cards with questions on one side and answers on another (flash cards, basically) are a great way to practice things. A great way to reduce anxiety about unknowns is to… well, reduce the unknowns. Even if you only figure out one or two answers a night, then you’re one or two more answers prepared for the interview.

      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. SpaceNovice

        Also, I forgot to say the source: Glassdoor has an “Interview” section for companies and you can look up local companies. Often, people will state one or more questions they were asked. Sometimes you find the favored questions of an organization, but at worst, you get an idea of what similar organizations are asking.

        Reply
    5. Double A

      One thing I would suggest is to go ahead and acknowledge that you’re recovering from being ill in the interview! I just sat in on an interview with a woman who I kind of think may have been sick, but she didn’t say anything about it, so she just seemed low-energy and uninterested. Or maybe she was low-energy and uninterested. It was hard to tell.

      My point is, don’t be afraid to provide some context for if you sound a little rough. Even though obviously some of the people who are interviewing you know about your illness, not every sitting in might.

      Reply
  32. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

    Today is my last day at Current Job and I’ve been like “HELL YEAH I’M OUTTA HERE” for the past two weeks… and then this morning I found myself choking up while writing thank-you cards to my team members. It’s so strange, I was so anxious to leave it all behind and not look back, but now I have some space to think about the things I’ll miss. Even in a not-great job there were moments of companionship and learning from each other, and I’m really grateful for that. And all the frustrations of this place have taught me patience and discipline, along with diplomatic conflict resolution and creative problem-solving. I’ve gone from feeling like I’ve stagnated to realizing all the ways I’ve grown, just not the ways I expected or wanted, but didn’t even realize I needed.

    When did I get so sappy? Ugh.

    Reply
    1. Sloan Kittering

      Aww, I do feel you. I wrote above about how happy I was to be leaving my job, but I know it’ll teeter back and forth between what I said and what you’re saying. I think that’s just the way it goes. Change is scary, growing up is hard, etc. I hated high school but also got weepy at graduation if I recall.

      Reply
      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

        Ha, yes, same. I just read your above post – that’s how I’ve felt about putting on the “so bittersweet to leave!” face – it hasn’t been bittersweet at all to me until today, I was just straight-up lying to people (may have hated the job but I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, so). It does feel a little like graduating high school. The feeling of moving on and leaving a chapter of your life behind is poignant, even if what’s waiting ahead of you is thrilling.

        Reply
    2. Catwoman

      You’ve got a case of graduation goggles. It’s totally normal and it will fade. Once you’re gone, you’ll romanticize certain parts of it, and be able to see how you grew more clearly. But if you keep in touch with your soon-to-be-former colleagues, you’ll also likely be reminded of all the reasons why you left when they talk about the office.

      Reply
  33. YRH

    About seven weeks ago, I applied for a job at Company X and haven’t heard anything. About three months ago, I met a couple of people from Company X at a conference and decided that I wanted to get coffee with them and learn more about their work. However, I was in the middle of a particularly busy period and knew I wouldn’t have time until June. Now that my busy period is over, I would like to email them about getting coffee. Because of the pending application, how long should I wait to contact them? Sometime after the 4th of July? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Ali G

      Just contact them now. As long as you don’t mention the job at all (which I wouldn’t do regardless of timing), it shouldn’t matter. It’s likely it will take a while to find a time/place that works for everyone, so by the time you meet it could be resolved one way or another.

      Reply
  34. Teapot librarian

    Yikes. I have a huge deadline of next Friday so I really need to be not here on the open thread. That said, I sometimes have a problem focusing on my work, even (or especially) when I have a big deadline. What do you all listen to when you need “noise” to keep you focused?

    Reply
    1. rageismycaffeine

      Vitamin String Quartet! There’s no words to focus on, though sometimes I do get a little distracted when I recognize the song. It’s my go-to for focusing. I just search them on Spotify, hit “see all” next to songs, and shuffle play for hours.

      Reply
    2. The Tin Man

      I’ll listen to instrumental music, sometimes even the same song on a constant loop. I’m with you in this being a struggle for me but that is one of my things that helps sometimes.

      Reply
    3. Ree

      I always listen to non lyrical music. Usually piano, but anything kind of mellow that doesn’t have a melody I recognize(because that will distract me, haha!)
      The Planet Earth 2 soundtrack is good too!

      Reply
    4. AdAgencyChick

      Bodega Sounds playlist on Spotify. Exactly what it sounds like. I don’t know enough Spanish to be distracted by the words, and the music just settles into the background of my brain nicely.

      Reply
    5. Sloan Kittering

      I have a playlist for butt-kicking work. It’s upbeat pop music with a driving beat. I think I’ve now trained my brain that when I hear those songs, it’s really time to stop f*ing around and get to work. Protip, I use them like pomodoros, like I’ll say, “I’m just going to work on this intensely for this one song at least” – to get over my mental hurdle of sitting down to start a task. I can faff around on the internet for hours trying to get started on something.

      Reply
    6. On Twos

      Depends on my mood but I like to listen to some 8-bit video gamey and electronic stuff. I’ve got a bunch of DJ Cutman, Anamanaguchi, Demoscene Time Machine, Ben Briggs, Monomer, Ubiktune on some soundcloud playlists.

      Reply
    7. Anonymosity

      Film scores!
      It’s basically all I listen to these days. No singing; it distracts me, so if my online radio station starts playing tracks from musicals, I tap out. If I can’t stream the station, I have an extremely large collection of albums on my phone and computer.

      Reply
      1. RainyDay

        Late to the party, but ABSOLUTELY second this! Depending what kinds of scores you go for, you can get the energy from upbeat pop, but without any distracting lyrics. Google Play has an Epic Film Scores playlist that’s really good.

        Reply
    8. SpaceNovice

      I have a huge, HUGE playlist on amazon prime music of just generic battle music. There’s also hours and hours long music playlists like that on YouTube. Generally no words in the vocals and it’s not distracting.

      Reply
    9. miyeritari

      I love the “music for concentration” spotify playlist (link in name). It’s just low piano and it really chills me out. I also like folk pop/indie mucisians like darlingside, heather maloney, the oh hellos, etc.

      Reply
    10. Lupin Lady

      Spotify was covered, but I too have this problem. I find that the focus for 25 minutes, break for 5 minutes can really help. Although admittedly I’m not using it now….

      Reply
    11. LilySparrow

      I don’t enjoy it a lot, but the “binaural beats” playlists on Spotify really do work when I need to drop in and focus to the point that I lose time.

      For more general “stay on task and get stuff done,” I like French torch songs and old-fashioned “hot jazz.” It’s fluid and energetic, and I don’t understand the words enough to distract me.

      Reply
    12. MamaGanoush

      Dance or hook-heavy pop music with lyrics in a language I don’t understand. I find that toe-tapping, head-bopping, quietly singing bom-bom-bom along with the music is great for feeling energized and focused, while the mysterious language means I’m not distracted by lyrics. This past week for instance I played a lot of Dengue Fever (I don’t understand a single word of Khmer!).

      Reply
  35. rageismycaffeine

    When I arrived at this job, I was sat down by grandboss and informed that as far as she was concerned, I worked for her, and given very specific instructions for how she wants things executed – I have to prep reports for her teapot sales meetings. Everyone else – including my actual boss – thought that I would be splitting my time equally between that, and generating new leads for our other teapot salesmen. Instead, all of my time is invested in writing these reports, and I have no time for generating leads.

    I had grandboss’s second in command tell me yesterday, to my face (and my boss’s), that in her opinion I’m “making excuses” for why I’m not generating leads, and “it can’t be as complicated as I’m making it out to be.” She thinks I should be able to train her admin to do it. Said admin was in the room, so I just bit my tongue and glared and said nothing, because when you’re already being accused of making excuses, any attempt to defend yourself is just going to be seen as more of the same.

    If it’s so simple that anyone can do it, why did they recruit me really hard and have me relocate here from several hours away? I’ve been in the teapot sales industry for many years, speak at the national conference for teapot sales research, and frequently receive calls and emails for my advice from others in the industry – but obviously, her admin can do my job. (This is not to slight the admin at all, because I’m quite sure that if I had any time to train her she could become very good at this – but it would take months.)

    I’m still angry about it, and I still think she owes me an apology. My boss has talked with her and it’s clear I’m not going to get one. She’s the type who’s going to smile and be chatty and act like nothing happened, but won’t hesitate to throw me to the wolves if I remotely fight back.

    Not looking for advice, just ranting. This sucks.

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      So you are getting conflicting instructions from your direct supervisor and her supervisor? That sounds incredibly frustrating and like something they need to sort out between themselves.

      Reply
      1. rageismycaffeine

        To be clear, my boss (hereafter Ned) and the person accusing me of lying (hereafter Cersei) are at the same level on the org chart – both of them report to the same person, my grandboss (hereafter Olenna). Cersei’s title is higher than Ned’s. Ned’s understanding of my role was evidently different from Olenna’s, and unfortunately, what Olenna says goes, so if Olenna thinks that all I should be doing is writing sales reports, then that’s all I’m going to be doing.

        But Olenna apparently didn’t communicate to Cersei that that’s all that I’m doing, and Cersei doesn’t believe me when I say that that’s all I have time to do. Hence the “making excuses” part.

        It’s really Olenna that needs to take responsibility on this one for what my workload is, but she doesn’t see it as an issue.

        Reply
        1. Sue Donym

          It sounds like you report dotted-line to Olenna if she’s directing your work content and that she cut Ned out of the loop, which wasn’t your problem originally (she shouldn’t have done that) but is to the extent that he needs to know that Olenna is calling your shots so he can defend you to Cersei*. But you probably won’t be getting an apology from someone for impugning your work ethic if she’s willing to do so with very little knowledge of the situation.

          * Cersei really shouldn’t have any input if she’s not in your direct line of command, so yeah, she’s overstepping by implying that you’re not doing your job. If it’s not a one-off, can you innocently suggest she take her suggestions re: training admin up with Olenna when she says stuff like this? Let Olenna explain to her subordinate why she’s having an experienced professional handle these reports and making them higher priority than generating leads.

          Reply
    2. Ciara Amberlie

      How long have you been there? Because honestly, this would be a deal-breaker for me. It sounds like you have amazing experience and lots of connections, is getting a new job out of the question?

      Reply
      1. rageismycaffeine

        It’s been just a little over four months, and yeah, I’m pretty dealbroken. The problem is that I moved to a pretty rural location where this is more or less the only gig in town, and brought my partner with me, and he’s doing fine at his job. I don’t really have that many other places to go without switching fields, and I LIKE my field. :(

        Reply
        1. WillowSnap

          This sucks, but if grandboss (hereafter Olenna) is the one dictating what you really work on then it sounds like Cersei needs to butt out. Obviously Olenna wants you to do the reports and thinks it’s more important over everything else.

          In this situation, all I can say is document, document, document.

          Reply
  36. Snubble

    I have an interview next week for a kind of sideways promotion at my current organisation. It would be reporting to my favourite of the four people I primarily work for, and take me out of the reporting line of my least favourite. But it would also be a move towards more llama herding, instead of alpaca herding, which is where I’ve got a better qualification and had been planning to focus. The immediate payrise wouldn’t be much, but the top rate for the role would be some £3k higher. I know that doesn’t look much but the difference between £21k and £24k really is significant.
    Also, I’m moving house this weekend, and it is stressing me out badly, so I’m not in the best place for preparing interview materials and making career decisions.

    Reply
  37. Wednesday

    How do you decline a networking lunch when you know there’s little to no real benefit of talking to the other person? I had a male co-worker recently try to set up a two-hour (!?!) networking lunch with him, me, and a local woman, who’s loosely in a field I have a background in. I looked her up, she’s slightly younger than me, impressive on paper…but I can’t really relate to the work she’s done, and taking two hours out of my workday so she can give me career insight seems wasteful of my time. I tried turning it down by citing my busy schedule, which is true, but he’s gone to bat to try and work around my schedule and get the meeting on the books… I just don’t know how to explain my disinterest politely.

    Reply
    1. Flinty

      What is the point of the lunch? It to benefit the company or more just your coworker? Or does he think he’s doing you a favor?

      Reply
      1. Wednesday

        It was unclear, but I believe he thinks I would be interested to meet and talk with her. There is no possible way this meeting could benefit the company as I’m now in a different field.

        Reply
        1. irene adler

          Can you send some one in your place whom you know would be interested? A co-worker perhaps? A friend?
          Beg off with the too-busy excuse and then suggest that co-worker Mable attend as she has a common interest with the background of this local woman.

          Reply
        2. Sloan Kittering

          If you’re at all interested you could also say explicitly, “unfortunately with my schedule I would only have time for a coffee, say 20-30 minutes” – like with dates, you meet for drinks and are sure to schedule a (possible) Hard Stop after however long you want to have a reason to leave. But if you’re really not interested no need to do that.

          Reply
    2. CAA

      Are you sure he’s trying to help you rather than having you help the other woman? If you are, and you’re willing to shut him down forever, there’s nothing wrong with saying “I really appreciate the offer, but I just don’t need this type of introduction or networking assistance right now.”

      Reply
      1. Thlayli

        Yeah if she’s younger than you and you have left the field she’s in, it sounds more like he’s hoping you will give her advice rather than the other way round.

        Reply
      1. Camellia

        Hah! I came here to say this too. That he is using this excuse to get the other woman into a semi-social situation that is ‘safe’ because another woman is there, but still gets his foot in the door, so to speak.

        Reply
      2. LilySparrow

        Well, it occurred to me that he might be trying to do the younger woman a favor because he likes her or is dating her. That’s not necessarily something to be cynical about, except that he didn’t say so up front.

        I’d just ask him straight-up what the purpose of the meeting is, and why he needs to be there. If he just wants to make an introduction that doesn’t take 2 hours.

        There’s no need to beat about the bush. It’s not insulting to say, “Honestly, I’m not sure what the purpose of this lunch is supposed to be, as I’m no longer in that field. Could you tell me more about why you want to set this up, and why it needs to be such a large block of time?”

        Reply
  38. Job Searching Novice

    Hi all, I’m looking for some help regarding interview prep. I’ve secured an interview for a position that I’m very exited about at the local college and am looking for some advice regarding potential situational questions that might be posed at an interview at a post-secondary institution. This is for an operational vs teaching role but I want to make sure I’m as prepared as possible as I try to move to a completely new environment. Also, if anyone has any follow up questions that are especially pertinent to post-secondary jobs that would also be appreciated! Thanks in advance for any help!

    Reply
    1. Sloan Kittering

      I felt silly doing this, but role playing with a friend actually really helped me (also with any difficult conversation I’m trying to have, or asking for a raise). I needed to practice getting the words out of my mouth in the moment.

      Reply
    2. SpaceNovice

      Glassdoor has a section for “Interviews” at various companies. A lot of the entries will actually give a sample question or two that they were asked. You can look up both the local college and also at similar institutions nearby for insights.

      Reply
      1. SpaceNovice

        Also forgot to add: make flash cards of common questions you find. Prepare answers written first and then practice verbally. It really helps!

        Reply
    3. Pam

      My experience is you will get a lot of ‘Tell me about a time when you…
      dealt with a difficult student/client; had to recover from a mistake; worked in a team, etc.

      In the US at least, expect a question on FERPA- educational privacy act.

      Reply
    4. Hazelthyme

      Agree that you should be prepared for the “tell me about a time when you …” questions. Google “behavioral interview questions” or “STAR interview questions” for a list to get you started, and then practice answering them aloud. I just did this last week, and found that having several good examples from my career that I was prepared to talk about in detail was really helpful in the moment.

      Check both the college’s main website, and any sites or pages operated directly by the department you’d be working for. On the main site, look for basic facts about the school (# students/faculty/staff, # majors or departments, whether there are multiple schools or colleges within a larger university, etc.) and recent news articles/releases. (Check the local paper in the college’s town for this, too.) On the department’s site, get a sense of what they emphasize, what their mission is, major initiatives or current projects, etc. Bonus if some of what you find leads to interesting questions you can ask when given the opportunity.

      Not sure exactly what your role would be, but you might also want to look up current issues in residence life/ student affairs/ student accounts/ college HR/ fundraising or whatever part of the college you’re applying to. Colleges are complex organizations, so while some issues will be common to most or all the campus community, others will have more in common with people doing similar jobs at other universities or even in other kinds of organization. For example, working in a college development office is probably a lot more similar to other nonprofit fundraising and development than it is to campus judicial affairs.

      Remember that the college’s bottom line isn’t making a profit (in most cases) but educating students, supporting faculty, and advancing knowledge. Working that into every answer would be laying it on a bit thick, but if you recognize and acknowledge how the job you’re applying for contributes to that mission, it can’t hurt.

      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. Easily Amused

        Allison has a free interview prep guide right here. I went over it before my interview a few days ago and it sounds like what you’re looking for! You’ll have to Google it – my iPad tends to get a bit crashy when I type in these comment boxes.

        Reply
  39. Hiring with the low unemployment rate

    What has everyone’s experience been like, both from the job hunting and hiring perspective, as the unemployment rate has gone down?

    I’ve noticed that several jobs I interviewed for this past winter have never been filled, and have also been reposted (so it’s not like they decided against hiring at all). They were all technical or semi-technical with low pay (for example, one was a database manager job for a salary of $45,000 in a big city). I’m trying to transition to a data career. I bring some skill/experience to the job but also need to learn, so I thought that type of job would be perfect for me.

    Basically, I think a lot of employers are stuck in the 2011 mindset of being able to hire great talent for low salaries, and they aren’t willing to either raise the salary or lower their standards/train on the job. What are your thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Trout 'Waver

      As a mid-level manager, it’s tough. We used to get 10 qualified candidates 3-4 years ago for each posting. Now we’re lucky to get 1. The higher-ups starting to recognize that they need to pay more to get the talent they’re looking for, though.

      Reply
      1. Hiring with the low unemployment rate

        I hired last year too, and it was TOUGH. It was for entry level positions that weren’t terribly attractive but not awful either–and a very small minority of applications/interviewed candidates were considerable. I’ve never hired for higher level positions though.

        Reply
    2. SophieChotek

      From a job hunting perspective I know in the past several years I have been unable to find a new job or get interviews. There have not been tons and tons of jobs out there that I think are a good fit for me (most are too high level and I need to start lower, not as “director”). And I know many of my friends feel the same way. We all try to help each other with job searches, etc. or practice interviews, etc. If the unemployement is low and jobs cannot find qualified candidates, they must all be in fields I am not interested in/unqualified for.

      Reply
      1. Jennifer

        Yup. The jobs at my level want you to be doing four different jobs at once for 2-4 managers and then I’m never good enough. The only jobs listed are for finance people, which I don’t want to do at all. I haven’t even found one job I qualify for in 2018 to apply for–usually I apply for more than that and get 1-2 interviews a year (and then am told I’m inadequate).

        Reply
    3. KatieKate

      I’ve run into that in the nonprofit world. An assistant director position in my organization stayed unfilled for half a year because they were barely paying $50K. I know they didn’t change the salary, so I feel bad for the poor person they convinced to take it.

      Reply
      1. Hiring with the low unemployment rate

        I’m in the nonprofit world too. I totally get having a low budget, but that just might been loosening your experience requirements.

        Reply
        1. KatieKate

          The eventually lowered the title to better match the salary, but it’s a rampart problem to expect miracles and pay pennies.

          Reply
        2. Lil Fidget

          YES! So many high level nonprofit jobs with just laughable salaries. Sorry guys, I get we’re mission-driven, but you need to start looking at part time, or teleworking, or some other massive perk to get the person you want for this kind of money. Unfortunately I think nonprofits are feeling VERY tight right now in the US given likely Federal funding cuts.

          Reply
          1. Hiring with the low unemployment rate

            What frustrates me the most is nonprofits seem to always want you to have experience a) that’s exactly what they’re hiring for and b) in like, the exact same micro-field of their organization. You can’t just be a nonprofit manager for an environmental organization, you have to be a program manager for a bird conservation org. Sometimes when they do this they’re literally the only nonprofit in the region in that microfield. Drives me nuts!

            Reply
    4. Sloan Kittering

      It took me much, much longer to find a job this time – that paid me what I wanted, and was a career move – than it did five years ago. It was infuriating to read all those articles about how the economy is great and unemployment was down, when I felt like I was in my own personal recession. I still don’t know what the problem was, I got a job in the actual recession of 2008!

      Reply
    5. Bea

      Hiring has been utter hell.

      I was looking in October and was hired within 4 weeks of my search. I had fast responses and offers from both places I interviewed in that time. I needed out so I pounced. Ending up with more money and less stress and less work.

      Now we’re hiring one specialty position and one management. And wow. Only one app in the week the specialty listing hit. 100 absolutely not anywhere near the right skillset in about a month for the other opening.

      It’s around market rates and good benefits. Not thinking it’s a financial issue here. There’s just not a lot of talent looking and responding.

      It’s exhausting.

      Reply
    6. The New Wanderer

      In my case, I think a lot of employers (in tech specifically) are stuck in the start-up mindset of one person to do All The Things. IME someone who specializes in a field (as in, gets a Master’s or PhD) typically doesn’t have expert-level skills in other mostly unrelated fields because when would they have the time, and yet the job descriptions (written or heavily implied) list all those skills as minimum requirements. The salary ranges I’ve seen are actually pretty good for one primary aspect of the job, but woefully low for the person who actually has all of the skills.

      So, a lot of jobs I have applied for and not been considered are still being posted because their magical unicorn person hasn’t shown up (or that one person is working for Big Name Tech for wayyyy more money because BNT knows they are so rare and pays accordingly).

      Reply
    7. Anonymosity

      I think you nailed it in your last paragraph. Plus, the whole unicorn thing. Someone commenting on this blog a few years ago referred to that as “waiting for Jesus.”

      I’ve been seeing that a lot with the admin jobs around here. I’ve interviewed for a couple where the employer says things like, “We want someone who will stay with the company long-term.” Well honey, you are not going to get that for $8-10 an hour and barely any PTO or benefits, and no advancement or learning opportunities. And sure enough, in eighteen months of searching, I’ve seen the same exact jobs advertised more than once. In fact, I’m seeing jobs I applied for in 2012 still being posted because they can’t keep anyone in them but are clueless about how to do so.

      Reply
      1. Hiring with the low unemployment rate

        Haha, I’ve been job searching for years too (off and on) and I keep seeing the same jobs posted over and over again too.

        Reply
      2. hermit crab

        Ha, I love that. A group within my organization has definitely been waiting for Jesus and/or a unicorn. They’ve actually made two offers recently and had them both rejected, so now they are starting over. I am not in any way surprised.

        Reply
      3. The Original K.

        I mentioned a few Fridays ago that I had gone through a hiring process with a company (application & 3 interviews over about six weeks) only to find out at the end that the top of their pay range was $5K below my bottom. I’d done my homework; my range was in line with market value for the role. I was really annoyed because I’d listed my range on the application as required, so they could have screened me out (and if they’d listed the range in the ad, I wouldn’t have applied). Well, that job is still posted, so I’m guessing I’m not the only person who has had that experience with them. If they want to pay what they’re paying, the role needs to be more junior.

        Reply
    8. SpaceNovice

      I’m in tech, so I’m getting a lot more random recruiters reach out to me now. Crappy companies tend to have their positions left open for months. I’ve actually been seeing the number of PTO days going up, and I can tell because they’re not being put into listings whereas they weren’t before. Companies who try to have a checkbox listing of skills/computer languages all filled out don’t fill their positions for months while those that find people that they can train fill quickly.

      So yeah, companies that are in the old mindset are losing out, big time. You can actually see it now in retail–people are jumping ship off major department stores for literally anything else, so the only people they have are either not very good or, the majority, people who are super burned out and don’t think they’re worth a better job (or a better job isn’t available in their area). Part of the reason why Toys ‘R’ Us went out was because they treated their employees badly, among other things. They’re paying lower than other retail stores, so they lose everyone or cause everyone to burn out with anxiety over finances and inner company politics.

      Also, with data center jobs, you might be able to get some certifications to prove you are serious about the transition. Maybe same if you mean data analyst instead. People want more manpower desperately, and all you need to do is prove you have the drive to the right employer willing to help you learn on the job.

      Reply
    9. irene adler

      The “low” unemployment rate is a joke.

      IF it’s so low, why do HR folks complain about having to field hundreds of resumes for a single position?

      I’ve been looking for 3 years. I’ve had plenty of interviews but no offers. Clearly I stink at interviews. I’m a jack of all trades but they want someone younger, with more experience in fewer areas or the job posting was not real (they hired from within). Or less experience at more positions. Or I only have 19 out of 20 skills as outlined on the job description. Or, they make up a needed skill -not indicated on the job description- that is a must have. And coincidentially, one I don’t have.
      Some of the jobs are $30-40K higher in salary than my current position. But when they’ve asked me my current salary, they were no longer interested in me. Course, now that’s changed – I don’t give salary and they are not allowed to ask any more.

      I’ve had it.

      Reply
    10. Chaordic One

      It has been my observation that with the unemployment rate being down, my employer has been hiring people who probably would not have been considered for these same positions in the recent past. They seem be hiring a lot more older people, people who are overweight, LGBT people, members of racial minorities and people who are a bit unconventional in appearance (tattoos, unnaturally colored hair, unusual, but not indecent, clothing). They’ve also relaxed their position on hiring people with criminal records and are now actually hiring people who committed petty crimes in the past. (If there were more applicants without criminal records those with records would not be considered.)

      These people are all qualified to do the work and seem to perform well on the job, so that is good news. OTOH, my employer is NOT raising salaries.

      Reply
    11. Database lurker

      I am a technical worker. I get contacted on LinkedIn all the time by recruiters but every position has a laughably low salary, think 30% below my current pay. It’s very frustrating!

      Reply
      1. The New Wanderer

        Recruiters appear to be throwing contacts out to anyone in tech. I’m kind of in tech but not a programmer/developer/sysadmin of any kind, which is obvious from my LinkedIn and my resume. Yet twice in the last week I’ve gotten messages/emails from recruiters who “reviewed my resume” and want to know if I’m interested in some programming position or other. The second one was from a company where I applied to a specific position but my application was visible to all their recruiters – one “saw” my application (including all the usual details of experience and education) and sent me an email about another position and asked, among other things, what my degree is in and could I elaborate on my experience in software development. I was tempted to reply to ask what exactly on my resume did he think qualified me for that position?

        Reply
    12. 653-CXK

      A month and a half into my looking for jobs, I can say it’s a mix of being frustrating not hearing from anyone, being rejected out of hand, and quite nice not being at toxic ExJob.

      The frustration comes when you apply for a job (almost all of them I’ve applied for online, which makes it so much easier) and you hear nothing. I had three interviews so far, but nothing has come from them. There were two jobs I did apply for that were very close to my skills, but they were rejected (they hired someone else). I also look at some of the jobs I have applied for, and they tell me little other than “you’ve submitted your resume, thanks, someone will get to you if you match.”

      On the other hand, being let go from ExJob has been a blessing. In a way, management did a favor for me: they showed how petty, micromanaging, cliquish, and anxiety-inducing they were, and I don’t miss the company at all (so much so that when I applied in the health exchange instead of applying for COBRA, I picked another company that turns out to be much cheaper per month than what I paid when I was hired). There are times I get twinges of regret (“I should have done better”) but some of the people I used to work with have stated the area I used to work for is getting worse.

      Perhaps I need to change things up a little bit – I’m definitely getting far away from processing, but I’m interested in data managing or financial planning (even a temp job for a few months would be nice). I’m planning to sit with my unemployment insurance board to present my job logs, and I have been receiving emails from other employers (one of which sounded good on the surface, but after reading more into it, door-to-door sales at 100% commission is a definite pass), so sooner or later I will be employed again, perhaps at a much nicer place.

      Reply
  40. Layoff Casualty

    I was laid off from my last job, and obviously want to avoid that again in my next job. I’ve noticed mentions of layoffs when I’m reading company reviews (such as on GlassDoor) a few times, which worries me enough that I usually just don’t apply for jobs for those companies, even if the reviews are a few years old.

    I’m wondering if I’m reading too much into these reviews and getting paranoid.

    If a company is hiring, should I not really worry about being laid off? I assume if they were laying people off, they wouldn’t be hiring?

    Reply
    1. ThatGirl

      It really depends, honestly. Sometimes companies do strategic layoffs because they’re trying to reorganize; sometimes it’s just a sign of a downturn.

      My last job, my whole team got laid off because they were trying to save money by outsourcing our jobs, because their industry is struggling, and it’s just the company getting smaller.

      Here, I’ve seen a few layoffs in the year I’ve been here, but it’s all been middle management and a sign they’re trying to “fix” the structure – meanwhile they’re hiring for different positions instead.

      I would never work for a company like Sears, Motorola or Nokia (to name a few nearby) because they seem to lay dozens of people off every 3 months. They’re clearly struggling. But for otherwise stable companies, occasional layoffs aren’t necessarily a bad sign.

      Reply
    2. Kathenus

      I’ve been laid off too and know exactly the way you feel. I did include in interviews a question about whether or not they had ever had any layoffs, pre-worded and practiced in advance, referencing my recent layoff and companies seemed to completely understand why I’d ask. I didn’t do it years later for other positions, but I was in that same place with it being a fresh experience and concern that you are in. It is never a guarantee, of course, but it made me feel better to bring it up in a professional way when I was looking for my next position.

      Reply
  41. Peanut and Butters

    I’m bummed. Just got a rejection letter from a company I really wanted to work for. I know I shouldn’t take it personally but my jerk brain is like, we’ll what did you expect? Of course you didn’t get it!

    How do you get motivated after rejection? I’m having a hard time believing that I deserve another job or that I’m even qualified for anything else.

    Reply
    1. Sloan Kittering

      The only thing that works in my experience is to have a lot of irons in the fire so you’re already excited about other things. This has worked for me professionally (in a very rejection-focused field, professional writing) and personally (online dating) – submit the application and move on to other things as fast as you can.

      Reply
    2. Penguin

      TL;DR – Be kind to yourself. Recognize when you’re emotionally invested in a job and let yourself grieve if you don’t get it. Be compassionate of yourself. Do the best you can when you can; sometimes that means hammering away at cover letters, sometimes it means listening to sad songs and crying. Do whatever helps YOU get done the things you have concluded you need to do regardless of others’ opinions of them… even if those people have or have had emotional authority over you. Own your decisions; if you genuinely need to pause because “catching my breath now will let me work on X tonight” and you accept whatever might result from that, do it.

      Long version:
      Not sure if this helps, but I’ve had to work really hard at separating my feeling of self-worth from other people’s actions to reach a point where my jerkbrain (mostly) doesn’t do that. For me it’s not about finding motivation to fight that jerkbrain reaction, it’s about internalizing the idea that I am skilled/worthwhile/deserving of good things regardless of someone else’s choices (which ultimately makes the jerkbrain thoughts mostly moot).

      Or to put it another way, rather than arguing with my jerkbrain (which lends it credibility) I have internalized the idea that it’s a lying liar that lies and so I can ignore it. The “how” has been lots of therapy, people reminding me of examples of my value, and practicing a LOT of patience and compassion with myself (as in “ok, that job didn’t choose me; I’m going to let myself feel sad about it, maybe do something small that will make me feel a bit better in general even if only briefly, and then find a small bit of work that I can handle to keep working towards my goal so I don’t get trapped by the ‘you’re not being productive so you suck’ jerkthought”).

      Also, another huge component has been letting go of expectations, especially other people’s. And that has been easiest when I find that something that I was taught/conditioned to NOT do is actually a more effective/efficient approach for me. The realization that “Person X says I should do A, but B works better for me… hmm, maybe Person X is not the best person for me to base my choices and judgments on” has really helped me to trust myself…

      …and learning that trust and self confidence has led directly to my having more resilience and fewer jerkbrain moments.

      Reply
      1. Lupin Lady

        When unemployed or unhappily employed you’re self-worth completely TANKS. Just like Penguin said, be kind to yourself and realize that it’s not you, it’s your situation, and that you will get past it. And like Sloan said, more irons in the fire to keep you forward-looking. Try to set goals for the number of quality applications you send out, or refine your cover letter(s) to make it absolutely superb.

        Reply
    3. Ali G

      It’s really hard. Especially when you are really into the job. I’m sorry, I have no cure-all, but like SK said, it does help to have other applications in so you can start thinking about something else. Also if you haven’t checked for new jobs in a bit, looking for more places to apply might help.
      I got 2 rejections this week! One was only 4 days after the closing date and I got a nice note from the hiring manager that they offered the position to someone else. I was like WTH? Obviously you had an internal candidate in mind so why did I waste my time???
      The second was a form rejection from a job I applied to back in March. That one made me laugh. I had already assumed I didn’t get it :)

      Reply
      1. Kat in VA

        I had two rejections within a week of each other – the first one, I underwent HR interview, interview with my potential VP boss, and interview with two EAs. It all sounded like I was going to get the job – then I got the rejection email saying that I’d been passed over in favor of an employee referral. I’m still sore about that – just tell me you went with another candidate, not that you were hiring me so you could tick a box.

        Second one, made it through phone screen, initial HR phone interview, and three person panel interview. Thought I nailed that one too, and had to chase the recruiter around for almost ten days to get the answer that they’d gone with another candidate…who was an employee referral.

        *muffled exclamation*

        I’m trying not to get tooooo wound up about the latest development: HR phone screen, online assessment, HR phone interview, proctored online assessment, Skype interview with potential BossMan. Then HR emailed to say BossMan wanted me for marathon round of in-person with HR, him, his VPs, and the other three EAs. That was around 3:30PM, and I haven’t gotten a date/time sent to me. It’s now past 7:00PM. I emailed back within 10 minutes of receiving the notice of interview (I was out of pocket), and I can only hope that HR got distracted / it’s Friday and people have left early / monumental task of scheduling that many people was overwhelming.

        Now I’m going to spend all weekend fidgeting and biting my nails and, yes, worrying a little bit. Did I mention that I have a phone interview with the recruiter I had to chase for ten days…on Monday….for a different position at the same company? I can only hope having already gone through the preliminaries might give me some sort of edge. However, this same recruiter told me she’d call me “in the afternoon” last week (fun, waiting around all afternoon), and then didn’t. So I emailed her inviting her to set a time. Then I emailed her the next day, with the same invitation. Then I got a little rasty and sent her a nicely-worded email asking if I was out of the running, and if so, could she let me know so I could move forward. That netted me an email with nothing other than a calendar invite for the phone call. I’m hopeful, but being pragmatic about it all.

        Rejection is hard. I’ve gotten maybe 50 of them in the last eight weeks – I’ve been casting nets far and wide, and there are a *lot* of Executive Assistant positions in the greater DC/MD/VA area. Not such a big deal to get an automated one via email about my application; harder to get one after a phone interview; the worst to get when you’ve done a long, in-person interview with your potential boss(es) and feeling really good about the interview, hearing “You’ll be doing this and that” and “I think you’ll fit in great here” and other assorted pleasantries.

        I feel your feels. All you can do is keep moving onward and upward!

        Reply
        1. Kat in VA

          *not that you were *interviewing me to tick a box* not *hiring*. I would have LOVED to get that job.

          Reply
    4. nep

      I feel you. Sorry you’re having to face this. Agree with other commenters–It helps me a lot to keep finding other openings that inspire me…Just having applications out there for jobs I’m interested in gives me some positive vibes to ride while I continue my search.
      The most recent job I applied for–what they’re seeking is precisely what I’m experienced at and good at. Aaaand–nada. For a couple reasons I knew it was a long shot; but thought if I was at least short-listed I’d know what I’m presenting has some appeal to employers in this domain. So the silence (rejection) has left me with this sense of What The Hell Is The Use.
      I know I’d be really great at that job, and I’ve got to somehow convince myself that the fact that I wasn’t even shortlisted does not mean I would not be good at it. But–yes–in the wake of a rejection it’s really tough to convince oneself of that.
      One thing that helps me keep putting resumes out there is: Given my current status, my chances of landing a job I really want are minuscule. But that goes to absolute zero if I give up applying altogether.
      Keep us posted. Hang in there. Wishing you all the best.

      Reply
  42. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

    What brings you joy in your work?

    I’ve been struggling with burnout for a while, and I think what I need is to figure out how to do more of what I love about my work. I’d love to hear what you love, or what brings you joy (even if it’s just that it pays for you to do the stuff you really love).

    Reply
    1. Sloan Kittering

      Goofing around with my coworkers means a lot to me. They say having a “best friend” at work makes a big difference in employee morale and job satisfaction, even though that seems silly. That’s how I got through the hard times in my past job … we are social animals basically.

      Reply
      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        So true! I’ve had two “work besties,” both of whom have turned into lifelong important friends. My last “work best friend” left about a year ago, sadly.

        Reply
    2. Amber Rose

      I like the feeling when a customer/coworker calls me for advice because they know I know what I’m talking about.

      I love the feeling of finishing a huge project.

      I like praise, it just brightens my whole day. Even if it’s just, “thanks for doing the thing.” So I go out of my way to try and be helpful.

      I like decorating my cube with comics and silly pictures. Sometimes coworkers give me some more. I have one of those “what I think I do, what they think I do, what I actually do” memes stuck on the side of my filing cabinet.

      Reply
    3. Mimmy

      I teach keyboarding to blind and visually impaired adults – it is a VERY tedious and sometimes boring job, but what brings me joy is when a student is clearly motivated to learn how to type the “correct” way. Bonus points for when a student tells me that learning to type made a big difference.

      Reply
    4. Project Mangler

      Feeling like I’ve done a concrete thing (even a small thing) to help someone. Feeling like I’m part of a team. Putting together a well organized agenda or document (yep I’m a nerd).

      Reply
    5. Midlife Tattoos

      I love mentoring people and watching them grow, even if it means that I lose them as they pursue their career goals. In fact, one such employee told me today that he wants to take on a new role in an adjacent team (which he’d be great for) after working for me nearly 8 years. It’s bittersweet, but at the end of the day, it’s extremely rewarding.

      Reply
  43. grace

    Mistakes at work!

    I made one this week and the fallout has been awful. It’s fixable, but it still hurts to have people I really respect and admire not sure that they can trust me – so it’ll be a long few weeks until I can get this turned around.

    Have you made a big mistake at work? How did it go? Any tips on how you got past it?

    Reply
    1. Trout 'Waver

      Be honest, admit fault, and work hard to correct the mistake. That will make you more trustworthy than you were before you made the mistake. The old joke about how an engineer who had their bridge collapse is more hireable because she’s presumably learned from the experience is quite true.

      Reply
    2. Amber Rose

      I have. I missed submitting a hugely expensive invoice to a customer (it’s a long, boring story) that didn’t get noticed until after the PO actually expired and almost cost the company the full amount of it. We’re lucky the customer was nice about it and able to re-issue the PO, but my boss was furious at me, and all work related to invoices was taken away from me.

      For a while after, I had people telling me what to do like they couldn’t trust me to do it properly. I ended up sitting in a meeting with my managers where I explained what went wrong and why, and my boss and I finally had a real discussion about my job that really, really should have been had like two years ago. Gotta talk these things out! Even if it seems scary. The mistakes are scarier.

      I’ve also made a dozen mini-mistakes this week, which have a cumulative effect of making me feel like a huge a-hole, and that’s been a bit rough on my self esteem even though all of them were simple fixes.

      Reply
    3. SpaceNovice

      All of the above comments. Lessons learned are also important, and often if you’ve made a mistake, others have in the past. If there’s a way you can figure out to prevent the mistake in the future for everyone, that’s a bonus.

      I’m sorry you have to deal with people not believing in you. :( That’s rough. I hope it turns around quickly.

      Reply
    4. Ali G

      I don’t have more to add to what has been said, so how about I tell you a story about a mistake at work that will (hopefully) make you laugh?
      My first job out of grad school was at a newly formed non-profit, we will call it the Teapot Quality Board. We were getting ready to launch our first-ever open stakeholder consultation on Teapot Quality Standard, as part of the first ever review and enhancement process of the standard.
      We were sending an email memo to the entire stakeholder list we put together (thousands of people) to announce the opening of the consultation period.
      I drafted the memo, my boss (CEO) reviewed the memo, legal reviewed the memo, the Board reviewed the memo.
      We were a go.
      Email sent.
      ……………….Boss comes into my office with a look on his face I have never seen before.
      He informs me there is a problem with the memo we sent out.
      See if you can spot the error:
      TO: All Teapot Quality Stakeholders
      FROM: The Teapot Quality Broad
      RE: Teapot Quality Standard Consultation….
      YES, no one bothered to actually review the headers! The memo body was read like 100 times. But not the headers.
      As the only female employee at the time, I said, “well if anyone calls looking for the Teapot Quality Broad, send them my way!”
      It took a long time to live that one down (it’s a small field)!

      Reply
  44. Tangerina

    My new-ish job is primarily remote. My specific team is spread across the US.

    How the heck do people function on conference calls all the time? Everyone’s at a different volume, so I’m constantly having to adjust the location and volume of my headset to understand everyone. There’s the noise, the cutting out, the constant people talking over each other. Specifically my boss refuses to use a headset with computer, and she has a high pitched, nasal voice. Being on the phone with her for hours on end is grating.

    Tips are appreciated, but I’m also just needing to vent. I know this is just one of those corporate life things.

    Reply
    1. all charitied out

      I feel your pain. I hate conference calls. Without the visual cue, it’s really hard to judge what the other person is doing and/or thinking, so the conversation is so much more awkward. I would really prefer either e-mails or face-to-face meetings

      Reply
    2. Thlayli

      There’s a method of chairing conference calls where there’s one chair, and they manage the call, and they ask every single person for their input in turn on each topic. It only works if everyone agrees in advance to wait their turn to be called, and if the chair consistently remembers to ask everyone their opinion, and gives people a chance to respond when relevant. You could look this up and send it round and ask if people want to try it. You could offer to chair as a trial but warning it’s harder than it sounds to do it right.

      Also, people should mute when they are not actually speaking.

      Reply
    3. JessicaTate

      It really depends on how they are managed. The best functioning remote team I worked on used videoconferencing (Zoom) religiously, and most everyone had good etiquette – headsets if needed, muting, being on video. The organizer could mute someone who was causing an issue without realizing it. The video helped get rid of some of the “talking over each other” issues — and made people more accountable to not “multi-task.” There were still annoyances, but it was effective. But I think it had a lot to do with the company/team instilling a culture of “this is what makes dispersed teams effective.” Buy-in was essential.

      The worst functioning dispersed team I worked on involved the person in charge sometimes vanishing from the call without notice, and the notorious call when we suddenly heard someone flush. Without buy-in throughout the team / at the top, it stayed fairly dysfunctional. (Hang in there.)

      Reply
    4. Midlife Tattoos

      Nearly every call I’m on involves people all across the world. As Thlayli pointed out, it’s the chairperson’s role to make sure everyone gets heard and background noise is minimized.

      So for example, I chair a daily meeting with our offshore contingent. With the time difference, some are driving in their cars, some are walking down a very loud street, or some are at home with kids hollering in the background. When I first set this meeting up, I put down some ground rules: mute yourself if you’re in a loud space (or better yet, find a quiet place), everyone takes their turn, etc. And since I can see a visual representation of whose phone line is making noise, I will ask that person specifically to go on mute. If it’s a dreaded “Darth Vader” breathing heavily into the phone, I’ll send them a personal IM asking them to move their microphone.

      If you’re not the meeting host, you could certainly talk to the host and get her onboard with laying out some ground rules.

      Reply
  45. Ruth (UK)

    So I’m applying for an internal vacancy at work (it would be a temporary role which I’d get as a secondment if I got it) and basically, I’m bricking it. I don’t know why I feel so anxious over this but I’ve never applied to / interviewed with people I already know before so I’ve previously always dealt with application or interview nerves / embarrassment with “oh well, if I balls it up, at least I’ll never have to see them again”.

    I think on one hand, I have an advantage as it’d be internal in my department but on the other hand, other candidates applying probably have more experience than me.

    I wouldn’t mind practically if I didn’t get it but I guess I feel embarrassed about the potential not of not getting the role exactly, but of doing a really bollocks job in the application/interview or something.

    My boss has checked my application / personal statement / etc and thinks it’s good (she actually said “this is great”) so I think I’ll at least get an interview.

    Anyway, I guess I don’t need practical advice exactly, I’m mostly dealing with nerves/embarrassment. One friend of mine did point out I can’t let embarrassment get in the way of potential career progression.

    Reply
  46. First time mother

    I just found out last week that I’m pregnant (5 weeks today eek!) and am absolutely exhausted at work. Like wide mouth yawning exhausted at 10am! I want to tell my boss and team but hesistant with it being so early but I’m already slightly off my game so worried if it might come across as if I’m just slacking. All the internet advice is to take a nap in the office but given mine is open plan, that’s impossible. Luckily no nausea yet but getting worried about how to handle that since I’d have to run across the office in full view of everyone to get to the shared bathroom and throw up. I have no idea how its feasible to hide for three months. How did y’all deal with nausea/fatigue in open plan offices and navigate if/when to tell boss/colleagues?

    Reply
    1. Emi.

      Congratulations!!!!! Can you get more sleep at night? I basically went to bed at 8 for the first trimester. You may not have any nausea at all, but it’s a symptom of low blood sugar so you might want to start incorporating small meals/snacks into your day if you’re worried (or if you want to phase them in slowly).

      What’s your reasoning for waiting three months? If it’s to get through the higher-risk phase, that’s 12 weeks, of which you’ve already gotten through 5. Does that make it seem more reasonable?

      Reply
      1. First time mother

        I’ve been going to bed at 9pm which is insane for me haha but has definitely helped. Last night was a friend’s leaving drinks and first time since I found out that I went to bed post-9pm so really feeling it today.

        That absolutely makes it seem more reasonable, thank you! For some reason, i just had the three months stuck in my head but you’re right, I really only have another 7 weeks or so to go.

        @detectiveamysantiago – I didn’t know about peppermint helping as an energy boost, thank you :)

        Reply
    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      Peppermint is supposed to be good for both combating nausea and boosting your energy so maybe suck on some Altoids or chew gum or dab essential oils on your wrist?

      Congrats and take care!

      Reply
        1. Smol Cinnamon Roll

          I find that ginger helps with my upset stomach due to stress/nerves. However, lately, I have not had any candied ginger and must make do with ginger ale and its bubbly glory.

          Reply
    3. BetsCounts

      congratulations! I took naps in my car over lunch for fatigue. As far as nausea, I might use Allison’s vague “I’m dealing with an ongoing health issue” but if your office is a bunch of gossips that might just lead to speculation…

      Reply
    4. President Porpoise

      I’m in the same boat, only with nausea as well. I luckily work from home, but I’m still so tired and incredibly unmotivated. For the days where I am in the office, I try to snack or chew gum. Cinnamon gum helps keep me awake really well.

      Congrats on the pregnancy!

      Reply
    5. Thlayli

      Congratulations! Just take a nap when you get home sounds like that’s all you can do nap-wise.

      The fatigue is usually because you are growing a placenta and creating new blood. You need to produce an additional 4 pints of blood to fill the placenta in the first trimester. In 7 weeks time the placenta will be fully formed and the fatigue will lessen. In the meantime it’s basically like you are donating blood every 2 weeks.

      If you aren’t already, start taking iron supplements and other pregnancy vitamins. Also drink lots of fluids and eat lots of protein and iron rich foods. Basically anything that goes into blood is what you need.

      Reply
    6. Ann Perkins

      Congratulations! For fatigue, sipping cold water and making sure to get up and walk around frequently definitely help. For nausea, eat frequently and try to eat some protein even if crackers are all that sounds good. A cheese stick or slim jim can help keep you full longer. Sour candies are good to eat for nausea too. The unisom/B6 combo helps a lot of people as well.

      I think when to tell depends largely on your work situation. If the worst happens, would you be ok with people knowing? If not, wait. My first pregnancy I told coworkers around 7 weeks because some of them were genuinely my good friends and we all had a work trip together, so me sneaking back to the hotel midafternoon between sessions didn’t seem like me being antisocial. That’s definitely earlier than usual though – most people wait until they’ve had their first ultrasound and things are progressing well.

      Reply
    7. Double A

      Early pregnancy sucks because you feel super terrible but you’re not “supposed” to tell people why! That said… 5 weeks is super, super early, and I know for my own sanity I always reminded myself that pregnancy doesn’t always stick and that if this pregnancy doesn’t work it’s because there was something wrong with it. Basically, I tried not to get too attached to the idea of being pregnancy for awhile. The miscarriage risk, and not wanting other people to know you’re dealing with that, is the big reason a lot of people don’t tell until week 12 or so.

      Still, each week that passes (and, I hear, the more you feel terrible), the more likely it is to stick, so for me I started telling some people around 8 weeks, and pretty much everyone by week 10, because I did need some extra support at work and I needed people to know why. I think I waited until my second ultrasound to really tell everyone. I figured, at that point, if I miscarried, it would also affect me at work and I would also need extra support then, and I personally would be okay with people knowing that was what I was dealing with.

      But at this point in your pregnancy I recommend just sleeping as much as your body wants to! It’s amazing how much the first trimester saps your energy. I’m 26 weeks and feeling pretty good, but still sometimes have to sleep a whole bunch!

      Reply
    8. DaniCalifornia

      Congrats!

      I honestly feel like since you’ve got around 7 weeks (if you don’t want to tell people until 3-4 months along) that even if you had to make a run for it you could blame it on allergies or just generally “not feeling well, thanks for your concern.” I think it’s one of those things that once you tell your boss and coworkers about the pregnancy they’ll put two and two together and no one will fuss. If they had been thinking you were slacking then that reason will turn their logic right around!

      Reply
    9. LilySparrow

      You may not wind up getting nausea at all. Not everyone does, and not to the same degree. Most people don’t have random, sudden throwing up at all hours of the day. It’s more likely to be during certain periods, like morning or evening, and more likely to have identifiable triggers that you may be able to avoid.

      My midwife told me that one trigger for nausea is blood-sugar fluctuations, and having some good-quality lean meat every day helps stabilize it.

      Obviously not everyone can do that, but I followed her advice and had no big issues with morning sickness.

      I had massive fatigue but no nausea with my first, and some nauseous feelings but never threw up with my second.

      If you do wind up with “morning” sickness, could you temporarily switch seats to be closer to the bathroom? The line about “dealing with a health issue,” should cover it.

      Reply
  47. Raise q

    Is it wrong to ask for a raise, when I might be leaving the company for a new job in 3-4 months anyway?
    I am set on searching for a new job (work life balance now is not good, location is bad, pay is acceptable but would like higher to compensate for all the extra hours). I have a mid year review coming up, is it wrong to ask for a raise knowing I’ll hopefully be gone soon?

    Reply
    1. Emily S.

      Has it been a while since your last raise? I think that matters here.

      If it’s been a year or more, I think you should absolutely ask for a raise. After all, you have nothing to lose in doing so.

      Reply
      1. Raise q

        Well I Did receive a year end raise that all employees receive.
        I was debating requesting a higher raise at that time, but decided not to as I had only been in the role for 1 year

        Reply
          1. Jerry Vandesic

            Do it. Consider it practice for a skill that is important to do well. Even if you don’t get the raise, it’s good experience that you can draw on later in your career.

            Reply
    2. whistle

      No. You might be leaving; you might not. If the time is right to ask for a raise for other reasons, I don’t see any reason for this aspect to hold you up. Good luck!

      Reply
  48. In a Pickle

    I’m in kind of a weird situation and could use some advice. I work for a small company and have recently acquired ownership over our intern program, and we are currently searching for new interns to start either this summer or fall. In the past, our interns have exclusively been students (mostly college but we’ve had a few high school and graduate students). We received an application from a woman who graduated about twenty years ago and is looking for a career change. She seemed very excited about our company, and I reached out to her earlier this week and conducted a phone interview. She was very articulate, enthusiastic and had some interesting professional experience.

    When our phone call was coming to an end, I told the applicant the next step would be to invite her to the office to meet a few of our staff. I had a couple of different departments in mind where I thought this person could potentially be a good fit. I went to the director of one of the departments to talk about the phone call, and while in her office we decided to do a deeper Google search of this applicant. Imagine our surprise (and horror) when we realized the top images matching this applicant’s name were mugshots. Her name is not very common, and after doing some more digging we realized this applicant has been arrested multiple times, twice for pretty serious offenses (think aggravated assault and bodily injury with a deadly weapon). The most recent offense was less than two years ago. Given these circumstances, we do not feel comfortable bringing her into the office or considering her for an intern position.

    I told this applicant I would follow-up with her by the end of the week, and now I am trying to determine the best way to close the door. I’m not a fan of “ghosting” applicants and feel I do need to reach out to her, especially because I told her I would. While we always perform background checks before any employee officially joins our team, it doesn’t happen until they receive an offer, and our legal director does not think I should bring up her criminal history or let her know what we found…

    I can think of two ways to proceed. 1) Per my boss, I can tell her we’ve received a lot of interested applicants and will reach back out to all the finalists in August (which isn’t exactly true). 2) We’ve gone through some organizational changes lately and just learned a couple of days ago there are more to come. A number of staff roles are set to restructure (including my own). I alluded to some recent organizational changes during our phone call, and I’m wondering if I can tell her due to the nature of some of these more recent changes we need to use this summer to transition and bring in interns after a couple of months. This is true, but may be oversharing.

    I have learned my lesson and will be sure to THOROUGHLY Google any intern applicant before I call them. However, I could use some help navigating this current situation. What do I do?

    Reply
    1. Bea

      Googling is tricky though. It’s not recommended by most in an HR role due to possible biases that are able to happen instead of these kind of horrifying situations you ran into.

      This also may be an issue if you’re in a state with Ban The Box legislator in place. You can’t prescreen for criminal history here.

      Reply
        1. Not So Recently Diagnosed

          If you’re not in Ban-the-Box territory then this probably won’t effect you either, but it’s always good practice to ensure you aren’t in a state where you have to provide some sort of adverse action letter and disclose to the applicant that you are rejecting them based off of information found in public records.

          Reply
    2. BetsCounts

      If you’re sure you don’t want to give her a whirl (it is just an internship after all; however you know best if you’re not comfortable with bringing her in) I think using your boss’s idea is fine. If she’s not in school and doing an industry change it’s not as if she is going to know any of the people you ultimately bring on.

      Reply
    3. katkat

      You don’t have to explain. You can say something similar to your #1), but without the part about contacting finalists. If you know there is no chance of moving her forward, don’t leave that door open.
      “We’ve received a lot of qualified applicants and have decided not to move forward with your application. Thank you for your time and interest in our company.”

      Reply
      1. BRR

        I think this is the best option. You don’t have to lie, keep it simple. I do think you need to make it clear you’re rejecting her, don’t give her false hope. I think it’s also good manners to throw in an apology about misleading her.

        Reply
      2. In a Pickle

        Thank you, I responded in this manner. I’m a little concerned I may hear back from her because she has been pretty persistent (she has called a couple of times and emailed once over the course of our interaction), but I’ll cross that bridge if/when we come to it.

        Reply
    4. SpaceNovice

      People can change drastically in less than two years if they put their minds to self-improvement, but it’s rare to improve so quickly from being THAT bad. I can see why you’re really hesitant to go forward with this candidate. There is a third option of learning a few signs of people who have actually reformed themselves and then asking her about how she’s changed herself for the better to see if she’s telling the truth. (This might not be the exact way to address it, and there is likely better advice on how to figure out what to ask her if you go that route.)

      But not going forward with her at all is also legitimate and the safer option for the company.

      Reply
  49. Bea

    I’m so frustrated having positions that are hard too fill. This is a giant city and I’m getting resumes from an hour away only to then they realize that’s a crappy commute. We’re transparent and you can Google the darn place to see where the job is located. I’ve wasted so many hours interviewing people who are marginal at best and then they are like “yeeeeah and idk how I would handle the daily commute.”

    Fire coming out of my nostrils. TGIF

    Reply
    1. drizzly mcgee

      Please don’t be the one to reject people because of the commute. It’s their responsibility to figure out if they can handle it, and while anonymous internet comments may not be verifiable, I personally have been working at a place that requires me to commute 90+ min each way for nearly 3 years. The only thing likely to change soon is my own location, NOT my job. Please let jobseekers decide for themselves! Thank you!

      Reply
      1. Bostonian

        Sounds like that’s not going on at all, and the candidates are self-selecting out too late in the process because they didn’t do their due diligence beforehand.

        Reply
    2. Ciara Amberlie

      Unfortunately this is an inevitable part of hiring. You can’t expect applicants to apply only for the jobs that they think are 100% perfect for them in every way, otherwise they’d hardly ever be able to apply for anything! Many people don’t have that luxury.

      Also, it’s been said many times on AAM, but hiring is a two-way street. They may not have been enthused about the commute, but willing to do it if the job gave them 100% of every everything else that they want. But at the interview they’re finding that it’s actually only 70%, and the commute is not longer worth it. That’s totally normal and totally OK. Although they could certainly phrase it better in the interview than “yeeeeah and idk how I would handle the daily commute.”

      Reply
      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister

        I think you’re exactly right, and I wonder if they’re using the commute as a justification for bowing out of the process so they don’t have to say the “pay is too low” or “the boss seems like a micromanager” or “the office smells like mold and microwaved fish” or “the building seems like it’s in an unsafe area”, or any number of small things that add up to This is Not the Job For Me.

        Reply
    3. The New Wanderer

      Oh, commuting is a tough one. I always look up where the office is located and make my decision to apply somewhat based on that. At one company that I applied to anyway, commute was the first thing the recruiter brought up after confirming where I live/where they’re located, so it’s common for them to hear that since traffic in this area is notoriously bad (top 5 worst commutes in the US bad). I declined to go further after she clarified that there is no regular WFH option and the company culture is one of work together/play together (aka long hours in the office).

      Then again, I would totally consider a job for one particular company where the commute would be ~60 min each way in stop and go traffic because I believe the work would be fulfilling enough to compensate. So you never know if it’ll be a deal breaker to any one candidate.

      Reply
    4. Jules the Third

      And maybe this would be an opportunity to look at remote work 1 – 3 days/week or modified schedules (four 9 or 10 hr days instead of five 8 hrs) as a counter offer?

      Reply
    5. Delta Delta

      Can you do a pre-interview by phone? You could raise a few issues – salary range, benefits, commute – and use that as a quick moment to inform candidates so they can decide if they want to go forward with the process. It would potentially add an extra step it could cut down on hires that don’t work out.

      Reply
    6. WillowSnap

      It’s frustrating. All you can really do is to be very open about the location, and when call screening applicants give them the address and ask if this is a reasonable commute for them.

      Reply
  50. LDN Layabout

    Shout out to good HR professionals! After the recruitment process itself felt loooooooooong, dealing with the other side of HR at my new place has been a breeze.

    Monday

    – Conditional offer + details of where to get pre-employment documents.

    Tuesday

    – Sent in HR reference check details.
    – New HR contacts current HR.
    – Current HR confirm whether I’m happy for data to be shared.

    Wednesday

    – New HR say the reference check was fine, conditional offer is now official.
    – I send the rest of the documents.
    – HR generates all the paper documents and tell me to expect them in the mail on Monday.

    I hope everyone’s HR interactions this coming week are just as easy.

    Reply
  51. Hi boss, this isn't me!

    Here’s a question for the AAM hive: I work for a mostly-fantastic small business, but I’m concerned about our hiring practices. They only hire personal referrals and never advertise open positions beyond posting them on the website (and often don’t even do that). There’s no real HR, and they don’t want to go through the hassle of digging through tons of applications, which I understand (most of the jobs are remote, and so could feasibly draw applications from anywhere in the US), but the result is that our organization is overwhelmingly white females in their 30s. Many are personal friends or relatives of other employees. While there haven’t been any major issues from the lack of diversity, this can’t be healthy to the organization overall, can it? Is there a way to bring this up with my employers without seeming like a hypocrite, knowing that I also got my position because I knew one of the owners?

    Reply
    1. Reba

      Hypocritical doesn’t really enter into it. Maybe open a conversation with the bosses like “As the company grows, is there any planning for making the hiring process more standardized and taking steps to try to broaden the applicant pool? I’ve read about how having diverse staff helps businesses so I’ve been wondering about this.”

      Maybe there’s a chance that the owners genuinely haven’t thought about things in that light and would be open to it. It’s also possible that they see their current system as “ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

      Reply
    2. slipjack

      I’ve had this conversation a few times with employers, and have found that focusing on how to widen the pipeline is usually something people are pretty into (although I’ve always worked for progressive orgs so your mileage may vary). I’ve also had good luck steering away from “we need to hire people who look different from us” and toward “being a PoC in the US means you have skills and knowledge that white people don’t”. FWIW, I’m also a young, white woman.

      For the record, I don’t think it’s hypocritical to try use your privilege for good! You were dealt a good hand, now you can use that power to improve the world, one small business at a time :-).

      Reply
    3. LCL

      This is a for profit business? Then present hiring outside the group as a business argument. A new kind of employee will bring a different perspective and have some ideas on how to market to people that are part of their group that the business probably isn’t reaching effectively. If you can sell this as a business opportunity you won’t be seen as a hypocrite, you will be seen as a person with a talent for helping the company make money.

      Reply
    4. SpaceNovice

      You can also use a good third party recruiting firm to screen candidates for you. Places use them for direct hiring sometimes. That’ll cut down on the swimming through resumes. It isn’t abnormal to only do word of mouth, but it definitely causes the situation you’re describing now.

      Reply
  52. Quaggaquagga

    Any tips for dealing with consistent lack of attention to detail on a remote team? We’ve made checklists, we’ve asked them to preview their files, we provide detailed instructions in plain English. We’ve told them to slow down and take their time. It’s now expected that each time we receive something, we’ll have to go back with some minor revision request. It’s silly and minor things too, like forgetting to copy a block of text. But why do these minor errors keep happening over and over?

    Reply
    1. Sloan Kittering

      Man, I would try to quantify that in a tracking system, be transparent about the fact that you’re doing that, and fire the lowest performers. But I might be mean?

      Reply
    2. Bea

      Your next step is a PIP, you’ve tried to coach and have let them know their errors are a problem. Seriously, they sound like they’re not going to get better.

      Reply
    3. Quaggaquagga

      I figured some people would suggest firing or PIP…. I have no authority to do this with the team. In fact, the team itself is fairly redundant but we keep them because they’re cheap. :/ Keeping track of errors is an idea… any suggestions about how to present or implement this?

      Reply
      1. BRR

        Is it worth keeping them if all of their work has errors?

        I have some colleagues who constantly make errors and I track them in a spreadsheet. This is mostly so my manager knows how many errors they’re making and the nature of the errors.

        Reply
    4. BRR

      First make sure they know it’s an issue. Then ask them what’s going on? Then if it continues they need to be put on a PIP.

      Reply
    5. SpaceNovice

      You should go over the documentation needs in training in a open way; AKA, a way they can ask questions without feeling stupid. All of the things you’re talking about are passive, and it’s harder to learn that way. Encourage them to ask questions if they’re not sure. It sounds like you might be setting them up to be afraid of failure and thus aren’t reaching out. Instead of working together to figure it out, it kinda sounds like you’re treating them like children. None of which you mean to do, of course, and it’s an extremely common mistake! But I’ve found that not making resolving mistakes an interactive process of teamwork causes the mistakes to never be corrected, with people putting their heads into the sand about what’s going on. People don’t want to feel like idiots, so they avoid instead.

      Seriously, I went from 0% compliance to 100% compliance on a configuration management process simply because I WORKED with people. And many of those people were remote with only screen-sharing and phone conversations as an option. People went from avoiding the process to proactively coming to me when they ran into issues and asked how to address them or providing feedback. They’d also send people who didn’t know what to do to me instead so that they could get a quick, one on one training session. I was absolutely floored when an entire group who said the process could never serve their needs actually CAME TO ME because they wanted to be a part of it.

      Checklists and detailed instructions are good, though. Keep those up. But there’s nothing like sitting down and working through what needs to be done step-by-step in a friendly way that allows for questions and respects them as professionals. I could explain our entire configuration management process and demystify our document repository in 15 minutes when many, many pages of documentation just seemed like noise. People on the other side of the process made a number of incredibly suggestions that made the process so much better, and everyone could put their awesome on their yearly reviews. (I actually made a query in our tracking system to make this easy on absolutely everyone to do, ha.)

      You’ll find things are missing in your checklists/instructions or that you’ll need to reword things as you go when you get feedback. You might also find out you need to make major changes to reduce headaches. Also, you will find being positive will have a good influence on them doing better.

      Reply
  53. Mimmy

    **Networking at large conferences and keeping the momentum going**

    I attended a large symposium this week in Pittsburgh (I’ve written about it in the Free-For-All threads – will describe non-career-related aspects there). A friend who encouraged me to attend referred to it as a “networking goldmine”, which sold me because the symposium was centered around something I’m very, very interested in – it was a DREAM for me to attend this event.

    Well … maybe this was too big a leap for me. Believe me, I learned a LOT and did meet quite a few people. But, because the conference was so large, it ended up being somewhat difficult to make any meaningful connections. Plus, due to some snafus with lodging, I was very limited on time – I often had just enough time to get from workshop to workshop and to eat.

    Plus, I’m just not adept at networking to begin with; in hindsight, while I definitely enjoyed the conference and the people I did meet, maybe I should’ve started with something small. But this is a niche field, and I just could not figure out how to find my way in, and Pittsburgh is the closest this conference has been to my home state I jumped at the chance (the flight is a bit over an hour, if that). The hosting agency also puts on much smaller conferences, but they have been too far away.

    I really, really do not want this all to go to waste. There is much I still want to learn and connections I do want to make. I just don’t know where to even begin!

    Reply
    1. Ambpersand

      Kudos to you for jumping straight in! The thought of going to a large conferencing and networking with people I don’t know is so intimidating- but then again I’m a huge introvert/wallflower and the thought is downright terrifying. As for what to do next, can you reach out to the contacts you did meet and tell them that you enjoyed meeting them/the conversations and that you’d like to keep in touch? That would at least pave the way if you want to reach out to them in the future for advice or potential opportunities. And who knows, maybe they’ll have more information for you that you can build on!

      Reply
      1. Mimmy

        That’s the thing – I’m usually also an introvert and a bit of a wallflower! Good suggestion. I did get some business cards, so I’ll try to maybe follow up with them.

        Reply
    2. Sloan Kittering

      As someone who organizes and attends a LOT of conferences, one of the tips is … most people don’t attend all the panels. They hang out in the hallway talking. Especially the more senior people. If you’re “in class” the whole time, you won’t get many opportunities to network. Also, I’ve always found it easier not to think of “networking” as just … trying to meet people and convince them I’m great. How does anyone ever do that? I try to think of a specific project I want help on, or something – so that I have something real to talk about.

      Reply
      1. Mimmy

        Yeah that was my mistake – I wanted to both learn in all the classes AND network. Whenever I stepped out of a class to use the restroom or even at the end of each class, there were always people in the hall talking.

        Reply
      2. Project Mangler

        This. Having a specific topic to discuss is the only thing that allows introvert me to function at a large conference. Also, if you can arrange better housing next time that’s definitely a plus– I have to allow myself to recharge my batteries now and then.

        If the conference organizes meal tables by topic or has breakout groups (everyone who wants to talk about Specific Application or Web Accessibility or whatever go here!) even better for networking.

        Reply
        1. Project Mangler

          Also, if your field tends to use Twitter as a conference backchannel, that can be really helpful for meeting people with similar interests. “Oh, you’re also interested in Teapot Miniaturization? Let’s coffee after this panel and talk about it?”

          Reply
        2. Mimmy

          Also, if you can arrange better housing next time that’s definitely a plus– I have to allow myself to recharge my batteries now and then.

          Good heavens, yes!! To save money, a classmate who happened to be a conference presenter offered to let me stay in her hotel room, so I spent a lot of time with her in the evenings. She’s a real sweetheart and very outgoing, but I definitely could’ve used the “recharge my batteries” time. One night I did insist on it and she was fine with that.

          The conference did not have topic-specific meal tables – that would’ve been really cool. They did have “networking” meals, so that would’ve been helpful, though given that they had 900 attendees, that may’ve been tough to implement *makes mental note to make that suggestion if the opportunity arises*

          Reply
      3. WillowSnap

        This is true, but I suppose for a first conference you can say it was fine to be more in learning mode and actually just be present and attend the seminars. There is nothing wrong with doing that! And you learned that maybe the smaller ones would be better for the actual networking part.
        Some of these things are huge! When my work goes, we go as a team with a divide and conquer mentality.

        Reply
    3. NDQ

      In addition to following up with the people you met, find contact information on presenters or instructors you enjoyed and reach out to them. They may be better connected and can introduce you to others who share your specific interest area. You could also get in touch with the organizers and offer to volunteer at the next event you attend. They may appreciate the help and that would get you more involved behind the scenes with people you want to meet.
      Sounds like a great first experience!

      NDQ

      Reply
    4. Sybil Fawlty

      I collect all the business cards and marketing material I can get my hands on, and the next week I send emails to everyone. I try to mention a connection we made at the event, but if not, I take my best guess on what I might have to offer them.

      Maybe half will email back, but that’s ok. I don’t remember everyone I spoke with, and I assume they don’t either.
      I think the meaningful connections come after the event, when you get to work on whatever it is that your field entails.

      Good luck to you!

      Reply
  54. Amber Rose

    We moved! My new commute is 10 minutes (down from nearly an hour) and is the most amazing thing, I can’t even. My new cubicle is nice and private, and my back is to a wall instead of the main hallway because I’m in a room, not… a hallway. I sit with the other office folk so I’m not so isolated anymore either. We play paper ball four square. It’s nice. I like it! There are downsides (like the bathrooms being closed because of plumbing problems) but we’ll get there.

    Funny story: There was this weird cabinet looking, clamshell-ish thing on the wall that was labelled eyewash station, and I had no idea how it even worked. So a coworker and I went to investigate. She hauled on it until it popped open downwards, revealing a little sink and nozzle. Once it was all the way down, a little fountain started up. We were like, “oooh, pretty” and didn’t even notice the water leaking down the wall at first. When we did, she closed it and all the water collected in the sink cascaded out and soaked everything. There was a lake on the floor.

    And that was when I noticed the hose attachment, and the sign that said there was supposed to be a bucket underneath. Whoops!

    Reply
    1. CAA

      LOL! Sounds like your space used to be some kind of lab or manufacturing site where they handled chemicals or caustic liquids?

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        The people who used to be here did work very similar to what we do, which is why management liked it so much. We don’t use the eyewash much, but every so often someone will be drilling and get some dust or something in their eye, so I try to keep a few bottles lying around. I’ve never seen anything that fancy though.

        Reply
        1. Hamburke

          I liked eyewash bottles vs station better when I worked in a lab but there’s a lot to be said about a piece of equipment that can’t be moved!

          Reply
    2. ThursdaysGeek

      And in an emergency, especially with your eyes, who is going to take the time to read the instructions, hook up the hose, and get a bucket?

      I worked at a lab decades ago, and the eye wash station looked like a drinking fountain with two nozzles. But it wasn’t better than yours because the water coming out of it was rusty unless you ran it for a few minutes. The building is still being used as a lab, so I suspect it’s worse now.

      Congrats on the new office and commute. That sounds pretty great.

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        Yeah, we talked about it after and decided to trash it and put up a bottle holder instead. People understand how to grab a bottle of saline and flush their eyes. I’m not sure if people would’ve wanted to use that weird sink thing. And we weren’t even sure if we could get like, maintenance going on it. Also who wants a bucket just sitting in the hallway, ready to trip people?

        Interesting and shiny doesn’t always equate to useful. =P

        Reply
    3. Emilitron

      That style of eyewash station is usually used in chemical labs, when there’s a serious risk, eg MSDS that says if this acid gets in your eye flush continuously with water for 20 minutes or until help arrives – and in those cases we were always told to save our vision and let somebody else worry about the floors flooding. But they did warn us the floors would flood, because they were required to have an eyewash and a safety shower on every hall whether there were drains or not. Never had anyone actually use one, either on necessity or accidental/curious activation.

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        Ah, I see. We don’t really use chemicals at all, aside from a little bit of electronics cleaner and what is essentially vinegar. We mostly only need eyewash for when someone is using power tools and gets dust in their eye.

        Reply
      2. Hamburke

        I’ve had to use a safety shower! 2nd week on the job, I broke a 2000ml rbf (round bottom flask) containing dirty methylene chloride in a hood. It spilled pretty much from my waist to my toes. Since I was new, I had the lab coat lottery – of my 3 labcoats, (all marked the same size) one fit, one made me look like I was playing dress up and one wouldn’t button at my hips. The last one was the one I was wearing as the other 2 were dirty (one was dirty when I got there, this one had just come back that morning). I ended up flooding the whole wing. My jeans and socks disentegrated when washed and all the stitching in my leather boots dissolved. The only thing that survived the spill was my 100% wool Christmas sweater as we had the company Christmas party in the afternoon.

        Reply
  55. Academics and adjuncts!

    Who do you ask for a letter of rec when you are 5 years out from your last teaching job? I can ask my department heads (2), but I need a third. Is a colleague who didn’t really “supervise” me but had an administrative role a good choice?

    Reply
    1. CAA

      Sure. As long as you have some past supervisors you can fill out your list with people who were more peripheral but can still speak about the quality of your work.

      Reply
  56. Anxiety Spouse

    My husband is trying to job hunt, but his anxiety is crippling him from getting much done. Any advice or tips for how I can help and support him? I would just do it for him but his work is too technical for me to do that, and I don’t want to undermine him, either.

    Reply
    1. hermit crab

      I don’t have much advice, but I’ve absolutely been there. My husband was unemployed for about a year between leaving academia (where he had been his entire life/career so far) and finding something new. I found it really tough to balance trying to be supportive while also trying to encourage him to, you know, actually do stuff. In particular, it was hard to keep myself from recommending things that I knew would work for *me* but not for him — e.g., I’m more of a frenetic-anxious type who spirals into waves of doingstuffdoingstuffdoingstuff so having checklists and deadlines and calendars helps me a lot, but his response to stress is different and those approaches just make him feel worse. We ended up having some really interesting meta-conversations about what motivates each of us and how our individual coping tactics work/don’t work in different situations, though I’m not sure if that actually helped him in his job hunt.

      Reply
    2. Not So Recently Diagnosed

      One thing I did with my husband was simply sit with him while he filled out applications. I would hold his free hand or place my hand on his leg so he could give it a squeeze when he started to get overwhelmed. If he wanted to talk through an answer, I’d do that with him, and just in general keep the atmosphere as calm as I could while being a kind of warm blanket for him. It seemed to help. If your hubby prefers solitude when he’s feeling anxious, this won’t help so much, but it did wonders for us.

      Reply
    3. Jules the Third

      It’s so different for every person – you have to ask him. I’d start with a short list of things you could do for him, ask if he wants any of it, and if he can think of anything else. Possibilities:
      – Sitting with when he fills out apps, as Not So Recently Diagnosed suggested
      – Finding the jobs postings website and bookmarking it for companies hubs wants to work for
      – Helping with the resume by writing down accomplishments he tells you about
      – Coming up with a template cover letter that he can modify (ie, I’m good at a, b, c which tie to your job requirements of x, y, z

      Reply
    4. SpaceNovice

      You can actually help him, even if you’re not technical! You can help with practice interviews.

      I had a lot of anxiety approaching my last technical job search, but probably not as much as your husband. I just started slowly tackling things that I wasn’t confident about. I now have a huge amount of index cards that I use as flash cards for various questions I’m likely to encounter. It’s really overwhelming to look at the entire prep you gotta do, so break it down into little steps so that one or two can be done a night. I did a lot of “I’ll cover three technical questions tonight” and “I’ll brainstorm a cover letter” and “I’ll update ONE section of my resume”. You can find questions online about what local companies ask–in particular, on the Interviews section of Glassdoor and make flashcards of those to practice with. Different questions are more likely in different parts of the world/country. Learn about technical questions and behavioral questions.

      He can also start looking at job sites to see what positions look like to get an idea. Don’t need to apply immediately. Just start looking, but he shouldn’t wait until he’s 100% confident. When he’s ready with his resume, he can put it up on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Dice. I actually was hired by someone I never even applied to! Same last time I job searched.

      Basically, slowly reduce the unknowns into knowns, one step at a time. This is how I got my new technical job. Just move steadily. You can let him know in passing that this is advice from someone who does technical work, too. :)

      Reply
      1. SpaceNovice

        Also, you can help him with researching what to do for things, but mostly it should be him driving. Be a good ear and have him explain things. Sometimes just walking a third party through something can help someone figure out what to do next. Also, since he’s your husband, you can potentially help him figure out what’s causing the most anxiety by asking and helping him tackle it.

        Reply
    5. Drama Llama

      Everyone responds differently but here’s what I did. I stopped supporting him and pushed him to therapy.

      After many years of hand holding and cheerleading, I realised I was not actually helping his anxiety as it got progressively worse. The saying “you can’t help people unless they help themselves” is absolutely true.

      Reply
      1. Emilitron

        Yes, it can be such a tightrope between reassuring the anxious man that I still love him even when he is unemployed, vs encouraging him to actually accomplish something. So I outsourced, and sent him to a therapist.

        Reply
      2. Anxiety Spouse

        He’s in therapy! And on meds. His general anxiety has improved – now it just centers on his job hunt. He’s a high-performer but his boss is bananas and he needs to get out of there.

        Thank you for all of the helpful suggestions! I’m an optimist so it’s hard for me to get in his head to help him the right way.

        Reply
    6. Cedrus Libani

      Seconding therapy. I took a year off after grad school because I couldn’t face the job hunt. I was processing complicated feelings about how badly things had gone, and I didn’t feel comfortable being honest about this with my partner (who was worried, both about me and the rent). Should’ve pulled my socks up and gotten help.

      Reply
  57. Moth

    I have a question that relates to one of the questions that I think came up earlier this week (or that I found while just jumping around a bit on old questions – can’t quite remember now!), regarding whether to document bad behavior by a coworker. Paraphrasing, the official answer was no, unless the behavior is illegal or could violate health and safety standards. I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts about how to deal with bullying and toxic coworkers who aren’t necessarily doing anything illegal, but are wearing down the rest of the team. We’re thinking of going as a group to head boss of the department, but knowing head boss, they will want examples of specific behaviors. A lot of what toxic employee does though is subtle and doesn’t sound like a big deal on its own (unless you’ve been suffering through the whole pattern). Is it worth documenting if you know that who you’re bringing this to will want specifics (even though this can then come off as you “looking” for trouble by documenting things that seem small on their own) or is it better to not have specifics and go with feelings? And in that case, does anyone have suggestions for how to present those feelings in a way that makes them recognized as legit? If it’s not clear, I worry that we’ll have essentially one shot at dealing with this, since head boss is a fan of toxic employee, and so I think that we have to go in prepared enough to overcome that.

    Reply
    1. irene adler

      I would document specific instances and the adverse affect -on the work- that resulted from this event.

      Feelings tend not to matter as much to management- unless you can tie them into lost productivity. Yes, management does worry about employee morale, but that is usually measured in how many employees quit over a period of time.

      And, be VERY careful approaching the boss about this given he is a “fan of toxic employee”. This could very well backfire on you. You’ll end up having a more difficult work environment. Might even have to deal with repercussions from the coworker you complain about.

      I know this because I have to work with a toxic manager in a different dept. I (and others) have been his verbal abuse punching bag for many years. I’ve brought this issue to management. But management thinks the world of him because he gets results. So no action is ever taken. I just have to put up with it. He verbally abuses his reports. Management won’t step in -even when concrete examples of his behavior are presented to them. They just say “We can’t control him. There’s nothing we can do about it. Sorry.” I should add that the managers are also the owners of the company. So right there that tells you – nothing is going to change.

      Yes, I’ve been trying to find another job for years now. Nothing.

      Reply
    2. Midlife Tattoos

      As irene adler said, you have to make it about the work and how that person’s behavior is impacting. So, for example, if she’s surly or rude, you can say that you can’t get what you need from her because she is surly. Or that people have been avoiding her and trying to figure things out on their own because it’s stressful to deal with her. Or that other departments have expressed concerns about her and avoid her and that your team is losing respect from other teams. This last might be helpful if boss places value on how his team is viewed by others — that toxic employee is making him look bad.

      Reply
  58. hermit crab

    A few months ago, we had a round of layoffs and a substantial percentage of my group (we were previously a ~50-person department within ~500-person company) was let go. At the time, one of my coworkers/friends who was laid off (and who had recently finished a business degree) told me something I’ve been thinking about a lot.

    Apparently companies aiming for a reduction in force can factor in two waves of departures: first, they lay off the people they perceive as having a fewer professional options. Next, the people who have more options see the writing on the wall, find new jobs, and leave on their own. The company reduces their numbers by about 2x the amount of the original layoff but they don’t have to pay severance for the second group.

    This makes intuitive sense to me (and it is absolutely playing out in my department – I’m waiting on a new job offer that *crosses fingers* is hopefully coming soon, and three other people recently put in their notice). At the same time, I kinda doubt management here has that much foresight, especially since they miscalculated originally and we are woefully understaffed now. What do you all think? Is this something you’ve heard before?

    Reply
    1. Sloan Kittering

      This seems a little silly as a deliberate technique, because you’re going to naturally lose your BEST performers, and mostly keep the duds …?

      Reply
    2. CAA

      Yes, it’s true that lots of companies try to think about the impact of layoffs on the rest of the workforce and estimate how many total people they’ll lose as a result. As you have observed, a layoff creates uncertainty and some of the employees who were not laid off will leave. I don’t know if it’s a 2x factor though, that seems high to me.

      It’s not really about saving on severance payments though, because even if they laid off everyone to begin with and paid severance to all of them, they’d still end up with more people resigning afterward.

      Reply
    3. Thlayli

      It sounds unrealistic to be that cruelly thought out. It’s probably more along the lines of “we need to lay off 20 people. We know that if we lay off 10 people we will probably lose another 10. So let’s just lay off the 10 worst performers and hope that the other 10 who leave aren’t the best ones.”

      Reply
    4. Chaordic One

      I really don’t think that companies would consider laying off people whom they perceive as having fewer professional options. They are probably looking at people whom they perceive as not performing up to their potential and not meeting performance standards, as well as people whose work is less essential to the operation and whose work could be dumped on the people left behind.

      (It is probably just a coincidence that these are probably the same people who would have fewer professional options if they had to look for another job.)

      I’m skeptical about a company considering how this might affect severance payments or people applying for unemployment insurance. Most companies don’t think that far ahead.

      Reply
    5. LuJessMin

      That’s an interesting observation. When I was laid off, I assumed it was my age (58) that was the leading factor (even though the company would NEVER lay off someone due to age!). I also held a high position even though I didn’t have a college degree. Nowadays, most (if not all) companies want even their lowest level employees to have a degree. I have looked for a few jobs since getting laid off, but that absent degree hold me back. Oh well, I like retirement a lot more anyway!

      Reply
    6. Midlife Tattoos

      It’s not something we do deliberately, but we are very well aware of the effect on the rest of the team when there are layoffs. So we know we might lose some good people, but sometimes that’s the cost of doing business.

      Reply
    7. Sue Donym

      My previous employer is a very large international company. Layoffs were done so that the first rounds were voluntary (certain groups were offered the opportunity to be laid off, not surprisingly these included the most senior people who could most easily retire if they chose). This, combined with the associated increase in voluntary attrition due to other business decisions, was designed to get numbers down to lessen the inevitable involuntary layoffs. Involuntary ones were based on the most recent employee performance ratings which are heavily tied to seniority and then rank stacked to fit in a bell curve of sorts. Incidentally, if you hired well and your department is 99% excellent performers and you force fit them to a curve and lay off the bottom 10%, you’re going to be cutting rockstars. But I digress.

      So, for this company, the first round was intended to get rid of the highest paid employees, and the second round was more of a clearing-house of hypothetically lower performers. And in between, plenty of people just resigned because it was starting to feel like neither expertise nor individual contributions were valued in these cost-cutting moves. Or their jobs were being moved across the country, which also happened a lot.

      Reply
  59. Jemima Bond

    A question about office giftiquette! So my boss is leaving. It’s usual in my office for a card to be purchased which team members all sign and also a small collection to buy a gift. It’s a government agency so no money from the “company” is a available for such things but there is no pressure – the card is passed around with a larger envelope and you can put in a few pounds, or not, nobody is checking up.
    Thing is, I really don’t like my boss. A lot of people have left the team because of her treatment of them; she is aggressive, spiteful and won’t listen to anyone. I could go on but we haven’t got all day!
    So I don’t want to contribute to a gift; I don’t think she deserves thanks for bring a toxic influence on our team. I can easily get away with this. I don’t really want to sign a card either because mean as it sounds, it has NOT been great to work with her and I don’t really wish her well. But I fear that many others will feel similarly so it’s possible that grandboss (who is the only one who’ll circulate a card because nobody else will bother!) will end up with an empty envelope and a card with only his own good wishes in it. Also he might see I haven’t signed and think the card just hasn’t made it to my desk, say “oh Jemima you’ve not had Wakeenita’s card, do you want to sign it now?” which rather puts me on the spot. Is this all too mean? I almost want to speak to him in private and say, don’t circulate a team card, because boss is really not well liked and it might be embarrassing.
    What should I do?
    A) neither sign card nor give money and let others make their own choice
    B) omit to give money (or stick a desultory pound coin in) but sign card with duck-billed platitudes for form’s sake if put on the spot
    C) talk to grand boss if he gets a card (he is not a remote authority figure; he sits at the next bank of desks in an open plan area and it would be easy to have a quiet word?)

    Reply
    1. Ambpersand

      I would go with option B. It doesn’t even have to be something in depth- you could easily sign “Congrats on the new opportunity. – Jemima” That way you’re covered and don’t ever have to worry about it again.

      Reply
    2. Corky's Wife Bonnie

      Can you just put a generic “good luck” on the card and pass it off to the next person? You don’t have to give any money.

      Reply
    3. Susan K

      I would go with B. It doesn’t cost you anything to write, “Congratulations on the new job! -Jemima” in a card. It’s not going to make a point or teach Wakeenita a lesson if you don’t sign the card, so just take the high road. Plus, you never know when you’ll run into someone again in your career, so don’t burn a bridge just for the fleeting satisfaction of showing how much you dislike her.

      Reply
      1. Jemima Bond

        I think “not signing is not going to make a point or teach Wakeenita a lesson” is right on the nose here.

        Reply
      1. JaneB

        And you are happy they have a new job – happy that they are leaving your workplace. So a bland statement in the card is not hypocritical…

        Reply
    4. Jemima Bond

      I think you are all right. She is actually taking a career break to travel so I can easily write “Bon voyage!” I mean I might not like her but it’s not as though I want her plane to crash, I’m not that horrible. I shall be gracious !

      Reply
    5. The Tin Man

      I am also with the crowd saying B is the way to go. You can even specifically avoid saying things that aren’t true like “I wish you the best” or “I’m happy for you” but something like “Congratulations on the new job”. Even a generic message could make you look good to the grandboss, especially if few others write anything.

      Reply
  60. seller of teapots

    I need some advice:
    I recently got a promotion, and I have a question about how to support a senior member of the team. I’m now managing a team of 15. (Technically, I’m not the manager. I’m more of a “coach,” but effectively I’m everyone’s day to day manager–It’s a strange set up, but it works because most of the team is very new to the industry.) One of my colleagues is *great* –she’s the sr member of the team, smart, responsive, really helps lead and cheer everyone on.

    This senior member, let’s call her Lucy–her performance lately has been lower than expected. We’re in sales, and she has some really big stuff that’s hanging out there and if some of it comes through she’d be back on top. But in the meantime, my boss has made a number of comments about being disappointed in/upset with Lucy.

    Lucy and I relate more as peers than anything else, due to the unusual arrangement of our team. And I am not sure what to do–should I mention to Lucy that our mutual boss is a bit cranky (he won’t say anything directly himself…yet) or do I just leave it alone? If I say something, what do I say? I don’t want him to cement an unfavorable opinion of her; I also don’t want to take sides or gossip–I want to act professional and managerial, but I a) would like data to back up Lucy next time our boss complains about her and b) if I were Lucy I’d want a heads-up about the situation. Any advice?

    Reply
      1. The Tin Man

        I agree. How long have her numbers been down? Can you say something like “Hey Lucy, I noticed your numbers have been down recently. I know you have X, Y, and Z in the pipeline and you’re always on the ball with everything but I wanted to check in to see if there is anything I can help with.”

        I wrote that quickly so I’d refine it some, but that’s the general idea I was thinking.

        Reply