open thread

I’m going to go off and do holiday things, so here’s an open thread.

For anyone who doesn’t know the term:  The comment section on this post is open for discussion on anything you want to talk about (unlike on regular posts, where I generally try to keep the conversation focused on the topic at hand).

If you have a question you want me to answer, emailing me is still your best bet, but this is a chance to talk to other readers. Have at it!

P.S. Why yes, those are my beautiful plants.

{ 415 comments… read them below }

  1. Lillian*

    Regretting turning down a job offer– is it stupid to contact the hiring manager again about the position? I know the position is still open because they reposted it after I turned down the offer. But I don’t know if (1) they will even give me a 2nd chance and (2) if it will make the work environment awkward/negative because I turned them down the first time.

    1. fposte*

      Why did you turn it down, and why did you reconsider? If you were civil about it and can give a good reason why you’d not back out this time, you might still be a really strong candidate. I’d react very positively to somebody who, say, withdrew after the offer because she was suddenly moving out of town for partner transfer and who is applying again now because the transfer fell through.

      1. Lillian*

        Unfortunately, I don’t have a great reason like that :) I had questions about the culture/fit. I’m reconsidering because I think I might have misjudged the organization.

        1. JLH*

          If you handled everything appropriately, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t try for the position again. If you have a contact email, explain to them you saw that the job was open again, what your initial impression was and that’s why you turned it down, what made you think you were wrong, and ask if they wouldn’t mind meeting with you again or maybe a phone conversation to see if you and the company are really a good fit for each other.

        2. AD*

          What is making you think that you misjudged the organization?

          I’d be really careful about this. If something set off your warning bells about the culture, you shouldn’t toss that aside easily (and maybe you haven’t; do you now have more or different information?).

        3. fposte*

          I would agree that as long as you behaved well in the withdrawal it’s not a problem to apply. However, your chances of getting an offer will likely improve the more clear and certain you can be about the reason for decline being gone.

          And think about AD’s point–make sure that this isn’t just non-buyer’s regret. If they offer it again and you withdraw again, that’s going to cost you big time, and possibly not just with this company. One withdrawal is forgiveable, but you can’t do it again without being a timewasting flake.

        4. Ellen M.*

          Also whatever reason you give, they might think you are not telling the truth. They might think, “She just couldn’t find anything else and is desperate, so she came back.” You will probably have to convince them that is not the case.

    2. Victoria*

      A few year ago I turned down an offer, only to reconsider and go back to the hiring manager. It worked – they hadn’t hired anyone else, I was hired and all was well. I don’t think there’s a downside, as long as you’ve handled yourself well in the meantime.

      My situation was somewhat unique: They hadn’t even opened up the hiring process when they brought me in to interview (I was recommended by the person leaving the position), so they hadn’t had time to get anywhere with someone else by the time I came back to them.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Argh. That’s a tough one. I turned down an offer recently because in the interview, I found out that 1) what I thought was a starting wage was THE wage, which 2) with a mandatory 4% retirement deduction I also didn’t know about, would not have left me with enough to pay my bills. It was a county job, and no one had had a raise in 4 or 5 years, and none were forthcoming due to budget.

      I still can’t find anything and I’m kind of sorry I turned it down, but honestly, I would have had to keep looking, and the employer told me someone else had taken it a while back and then left for something else. She thanked me profusely for not doing that to her again. I felt awful about it but I didn’t want to get fired for job searching while I was there.

  2. Anna*

    Random: That “More from BlogHer” module at right contains a link to a post called “Is it OK to conduct interviews via email?”

    Granted, it’s about the kind of interviews a reporter does, not the kind a recruiter does, but stil…

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ha. I always try to get reporters to interview me by email because I hate the phone. Also I like having a record of what I said, in case I’m misquoted.

    2. Ellen M.*

      I also like to do interviews (as the interviewer or interviewee) via e-mail. No transcribing!! And you don’t have to coordinate schedules.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Now that would worry me more — at least for anything beyond an initial back and forth — since you wouldn’t have a chance to hear how the person conducts themselves, how quickly they can think on their feet, etc. And it might not even be them writing the answers (or someone else might have edited them)! Different concerns with job interviews than newspaper interviews, I think.

        1. Anna*

          I suppose — and this comes from someone who hasn’t had to interview for so much as a roommate — that it might fit nicely between the phone screening and the in-person interview. The first to weed out the patently unqualified, and the e-mail interview gives you more information to use in prioritizing who to bring in.

          1. Ornery PR*

            Wouldn’t an “email interview” just be a job application?When my organization recruits for a specific non-profit, we always write four or five open-ended essay-type questions that we require along with an applicant’s resume and cover letter. Otherwise, IM would be the only written form of interview that could have a true back and forth.

          2. Unmana*

            I have done that–asked a couple of questions over email to get a better understanding of the candidate’s fit before I spend time on a phone or in-person interview. Granted, I’m in marketing, so anyone in my team needs to be excellent at written communication, and that’s a better way to judge that than a resume.

            (I haven’t seen a great cover letter yet, unfortunately, otherwise I wouldn’t need to do this.)

        2. Ellen M.*

          Not for a job interview! For a “librarian profile” or “archivist profile” type of interview. Something that would appear in a publication.

    3. Student*

      In this day and age, I’d think that an IM interview would be more appropriate to cover those issues. Email seems like a clunky way to do the kind of back-and-forth you ideally want in a good interview. It’d be more appropriate for a press release.

  3. Jeff*

    Does anyone have any advice for trying to find a job overseas? My wife and I have expanded our options from looking within the U.S. to looking outside the U.S. We’re trying to focus on the U.K. since we have family there, and they’re trying to help us by sending our resumes out to places where we would be a fit. But does anyone have any other ideas about how to look for jobs outside the U.S.? I’m sure it’s difficult, but we’re willing to do the legwork necessary. Any advice is appreciated.

    1. fposte*

      I personally don’t know, but how about a bit of cross-bloggization: Tomato Nation recently had a post about somebody who wanted some advice on this and there was a lot of good feedback and info in the comments. Here:

      There’s also some discussion of the advisability, since this particular letter writer seemed unaware of some of the obstacles. That may also be useful.

    2. Diane*

      Hey Jeff, I’m an expat living in France and although I freelance now, I did pursue the “regular job” avenue two years ago. My tips:

      –Cold call/send your resume to companies you’d be interested in and make a case for yourself. Jobs aren’t always posted and a firm may not know they need you until YOU contact THEM. This happened to me in Paris and while the job was interesting, the salary was really low. But it CAN happen. Don’t get discouraged just because people say “Oh, it’s so difficult to find a job abroad.” etc etc etc.

      –Check out this site for jobs in the UK (you can click the flags up top to change the country)

      –I follow this woman Nicole’s blog (she lives in Berlin) and she wrote a great post with some tips you may not have thought of:

      Above all, don’t give up. If you really want to move, you’ll find a way. Good luck!

      1. Jeff*

        Thanks for the links! This is very helpful information.

        I’d add too that I have a Masters of Divinity from Princeton along with a lot of experience in IT, so I’d be looking at church positions or tech positions (I have resumes ready for both). Sounds divergent, I know, but it’s worked for me so far. My wife has her CA Teaching Credential, though we’ve heard it’s very hard for Americans to find teaching jobs in Europe. So I have something of a specialized skill set, so I’m hoping that will help us find jobs a little easier.

        1. Anonymous*

          What sort of teaching does your wife hope to do? Has she looked into International Schools, Department of Defense Schools (DODS), or English as a second language? You’d you’re open to Europe and not just the UK she might have pretty good luck with that. My cousin has taught English in a bunch of different countries and I considered DODS myself when I first graduated with my teaching degree. (On the advice of a professor who had worked for DODS for many years as both a teacher and principal.)

          1. Jeff*

            She has her Single Subject English credential, so she’d want to teach English. We’d like to be close to where our family is in Europe, so we’d be looking at either the UK or Norway, so we might have some opportunities in Norway for that. From the research we’ve done, it sounds like it would be easier for me to find a job because of my IT background, and so we’d move out there trying to live on my income while she got her certification to teach in UK schools and then go from there. But these sound like good options too. I think we’ll start researching those also.

            1. Anonymous*

              I know that at least With DODS schools you don’t need international/foreign credentials since it’s still an American school. I don’t think my cousin did for his English job either. Definitely check it out. She might have better luck than trying for a public/government school position right out of the gate.

    3. Jeff*

      Oh, and for some more context, my wife studied in Oxford and absolutely fell in love with England. I have family roots in Scotland and family in Norway, so we’re not just doing a flight of fancy. We actually have reasons for moving abroad aside from the terrible job market in the U.S. right now.

        1. Jeff*

          The EU is not doing so great, and the UK is in a recession along with most of the world, but the strength of the Pound and the UK’s tendency to be independent from what the rest of Europe is doing, it isn’t quite as bad as the rest of Europe. That, at least, is according to the family we have out there who live in the outskirts of London. Scotland (which was another place we ware looking to move to) is not doing great.

    4. JT*

      I wanted to teach in China, so went to the Chinese consulate in my city which gave me a list of universities. I wrote letters to the “Foreign Language Department” in about 25 of them, and a couple months latter I got a letter from one to hire me.

      That was twenty years ago… maybe things are done differently now……

    5. Student*

      Make sure you are well-acquainted with the differences between business in England and business in the US. I’ve not researched England specifically, but I did go through this process with Australia and Germany. It’s important to understand the different social conventions, hiring habits, and very importantly the visa requirements. Europe in general is notorious for being hard to get hired in, because it is so very difficult to fire someone – you need to be sensitive to this concern. They also generally have a very different attitude toward work hours, vacation time, and benefits. Some parts of Europe (no idea on England) require CVs instead of resumes, and in some places this usually includes a photo attachment. Some countries have very different education systems where your usual US degree won’t easily translate (England is close to us in this regard, but it is still different enough that you should try to understand it).

        1. Emily*

          So I thought it was:

          England = England
          Great Britain = England + Scotland
          United Kingdom = England + Scotland + Northern Ireland

          So couldn’t Student have just been speaking about England only and not the rest of the UK?

      1. Jeff*

        We’ve done a lot of research on the visas (which is very confusing) the the bottom line we’ve found out is not to go on a traveler’s visa and try to find a job because that will lead to pretty immediate deportation and other problems. Our family in England (they live just outside of London) are circulating our CVs to help us out. And my wife studied in Oxford, and while she didn’t work, she tried to immerse herself quite a bit and has a pretty good sense for the culture. Our big struggle is trying to figure out how to actually get our names out and find jobs without relocating first. We don’t really have the money to buy the work visas to move and look for a job (and we’re not totally sure we’d qualify for the Tier 1 visas either) so we’re slightly handcuffed. Our biggest hope is that our family will be able to find something for us and then we get can the cheaper visas that may be partially covered by the companies we would end up working for. But again, that’s where our knowledge is fairly thin as well as how look for jobs in the UK when we’re stateside.

        1. Louise*

          If you want to teach in a UK public school you need a UK-recognised teaching qualification. Private schools aren’t so fussy. Have you considered some of the international schools in the UK? There is one just outside Oxford.

          Teaching jobs for all kinds of schools are advertised in the Guardian and the Times Educational Supplement. IT jobs would be advertised in the Guardian as well. Not sure about divinity jobs – but if you have any contacts in Oxford they would be a good place to start as there are so many religious organisations there that are in touch with all sorts of networks.

          1. Jeff*

            Thank you for the comment! This is excellent information. We know about the PDCE my wife would need to get for the public schools, but that’s good to know about the international schools and private schools. And my wife did a semester abroad at Oxford and I think she still has connections to some of the churches and organizations around Oxford, so she’s going to check there as well. I didn’t realize how much there was around Oxford.

            1. Anonymous*

              Being nit picky here. It’s a PGCE rather than a PDCE. Even so the teaching market in the UK at the moment is oversubscribed. It’s realy hard for people after qualifying ( a PQT ) to get the two yars experinece they need to be full teachers.
              Otherwise I’d advise avoiding the London surrounds as housing costs are sky high.
              On a separate note there are plenty of religious organisations looking for tech savvy members as it’s an unusual combination.
              I’m in the UK at the moment and the job market is opening up more than it was a year ago.
              If you know where you want to work then can be useful. Even the jobcentre websites can be useful.

        2. Riki*

          Have you considered looking at companies in the US with strong ties to the UK, either UK-based with US offices or international firms with US HQs? Not sure how soon you want to move, but if you’re thinking in the next few years rather than months, it’s something to consider. The downside is you have to get that relocation-friendly job first. The upside is once you get it, any visa and moving costs will be covered by the employer. If you can’t take the elevator, try the stairs…Good luck!

  4. M*

    What do people think about taking on a long-term internship (12 months or so) after a couple of years of full-time experience?
    Although my brain says go for it for the lack of other/better full-time options and since it is in the field I have past experience in, I am still wondering if it will start feeling like a blow to my ego once I start, since it will be a step down the career ladder. I am worried about comparing myself to my college friends who are in higher positions and feeling like ****, and feeling miserable once I take up the offer.

    Any one who has done this/ any thoughts?

    1. Laura*

      I was an intern right after college, but other interns in the program I was in were much older. A lot of them had gotten a PhD, worked for a few years, and wanted to change careers, some had worked for a few years and wanted to change careers based on lack of growth in their field, etc.

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. You will be treated at the level you perform/are. In business school, students who are in their 30s with many years of experience take internships. The word does not always imply young/inexperienced. Do not worry about that.

      I do warn you though to consider the company and their “internship” policy. Do they ever hire interns? How is that review process done? At what time point? Is it arbitary or is their a formal evaluation?

      At your point in your career, I would advise you to take an internship at a company that either considers hiring their own interns or if you know the company is well known enough that the experience there will definitely help you elsewhere.

    2. Max*

      It depends on why exactly you’re doing it. If your sole reason is that you haven’t found any better options yet, then you’ll probably find it difficult to tolerate for a long period of time, especially if the pay or the duties are lower-level than you’re used to. Being unemployed for a long period of time will get depressing fast, but desperation rarely makes for a good long-term career motivator.

      It shouldn’t hurt your long-term job prospects much, although you’ll need an answer ready when future interviewers ask why you took a job that moved you down a rung on your career ladder, but if you can’t find a good reason for yourself to like the job then you will end up miserable. It’s not really the level of the job that matters, it’s how much you want to do it.

    3. anon*

      I guess it depends on the field but I would not recommend it. Why not spend your time job searching, networking, volunteering at a nonprofit you care about, and taking classes to beef up your credentials? Try doing freelance work to gain more experience AND get paid at the same time. If you need more income, try temping. I don’t think going back to an internship level is going to help you that much. You already have a couple years worth of experience. What can you expect to learn in an internship that you don’t already know? In my experience, the stuff you do in internships is pretty bottom of the barrel. You do learn things, but it’s not like, wow, this is going to catapult my career type knowledge. You can do better. Look into all other options first. Don’t just do an internship because it seems like an easy solution to the no-job situation.

    4. Anonymous*

      I think it’s a good idea, especially if it’s at a non profit. Internships can give some really good experience and networking opportunities, since your co-workers will actually get to know you and see the quality of the work you do. And doing it for a year ensures that you’re not putting a two month gig on your resume… It will look more like a full job. Also since you have experience and will be a high functioning intern, the odds are good that they’ll let your position grow and take on new responsibilities!

  5. Anonymous*

    I just finished a hiring process (today – my first choice accepted! yay!), and the process has raised a lot of interesting conversations among my staff and between my husband and me. Here are a couple I’ve been mulling over that I wanted to get insight on here:

    How much do you value experience versus aptitude (as evidenced in interviews, writing samples, references, etc.)?

    Or, the same question asked another way:

    When hiring someone for an entry-level, non-technical job, push comes to shove would you hire Candidate A (who has a couple of years of experience, but who was less impressive in interviews/communications/etc.) or Candidate B (who has no experience but who shined in interviews/reference check/etc.)?


    How concerning is a candidate’s very mild flakiness during the interview process (e.g., takes a day to respond to request for an interview, 2 minutes late to in-person interview, doesn’t send a follow up note)?

    1. Tara*

      For us, experience and qualifications will get you an interview but ultimately we are looking for best fit within our organization. So even if you have the more experience than another candidate you may not work for our company because we need the personality as well.

      We take flakiness, delayed responses and tardiness into consideration. We always ask our secretary her initial thoughts of candidates as they come in, how they treated her, if they were on time.

      For me a follow up note is nice but not a deal breaker.

      I hope some of that helps.

    2. Liz in a Library*

      I personally give a lot of weight to how well someone interviews, their eagerness, and soft skills over experience.

      Much of the time, you can teach a smart, eager, hard-working person to do the job. You can’t usually teach someone to be smart, eager, and hard-working if they are not.

    3. AD*

      How quickly do you need the candidate to hit the ground running?

      I would *almost* always take candidate B, but know that it will require more of me as a manager to do so. Potentially, it would also require more of others on the team. I think it’s a better long-term investment, but every once in a while, that is just not realistic.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d say that for entry-level positions, definitely take B over A. For more senior positions, you really need both experience and aptitude.

      1. Anonymous*

        Yay! I’m feeling cheerfully vindicated that everyone is picking B over A. That’s the argument I made, and that’s the person we ended up hiring.

    5. Max*

      I personally wouldn’t be terribly concerned about 1 day to respond to an interview request or 2 minutes late to an interview. Sometimes people might need to check their schedule and speak with others before they can commit to a specific interview time, and I don’t think 20-24 hours is an unreasonable amount of time for that to take.

      If someone is 2 minutes late for anything, I wouldn’t consider them “late”, because not all clocks are set equal. While it’s certainly possible to declare your own clock to be the only one that matters and penalize people for coming in five seconds late, I think two minutes is well within a reasonable margin of error. I can see four clocks from here – one says 3:27, one says 3:28, one says 3:30, and one says 3:32. If somebody walks in for a 3:30 appointment right now, are they two minutes late or three minutes early?

      1. Max*

        Of course, it’s arguable that people should be 10 minutes early for a job interview anyway. But failing to be early is a different thing entirely from being outright late.

      2. Anonymous*

        I tend to agree with you about time, Max, for exactly the reason you mention. And in a vacuum, I really don’t care about a follow up note.

        But taking a full day to respond to an interview request (when everyone else responded within a few hours), coming in late when we had been explicit in our communications about our tight schedule for the day and (my exact words were “It is imperative that you are on time”), and not bothering to follow up afterwards – all when you’d expect that a candidate would be on their best behavior? Adding these little things together started to make me feel a little hinky about the candidate, compared to the other finalist.

        1. Elizabeth*

          If you didn’t specify when you’d like them to respond to the interview request, then taking a day doesn’t seem unreasonable to me, even if others responded within a few hours. If it’s not a workday for me, I might go hours without checking my email, and then before scheduling something I might need to make plans with third parties.

          If you specified that being on time was very important, that gives more weight to the candidate not arriving early to the interview, though two minutes still seems within the range of “on time” given the vagaries of different watches/clocks.

          Is this for an entry-level position? If so, the candidate just might not have that much experience with job hunting to know that a follow-up afterwards is important, or that “be on time” is code for “be early.” I’d pay more attention to the attitude of the candidate during the interview: did they seem eager to learn, or overconfident?

        2. Long Time Admin*

          If you didn’t say to the job candidate, “let’s synchronize our watches”, you cannot seriously want to penalize that person for being 2 minutes late by your watch.

          And if you do, you’re not the kind of person normal people want to work for.

          1. Kelly O*

            I totally agree with LTA here; while I understand it’s important to be on time, docking someone for being two minutes late is a little childish, at least in my opinion.

            (And I’m not saying that it’s not important for a job seeker to be early for an interview. I get that. But I also know I got hung up in traffic from an accident in downtown Houston and was walking in the door of the building at 3:30 when I had a 3:30 appointment time. I left my office an hour ahead of time for an allegedly 30 minute drive. Unforeseen things happen.)

    6. Student*

      On the taking-a-day-to-respond:

      If you sent them an email, I think you should cut them some slack. Depending on their location and email service, it can take several hours to actually receive an email. This isn’t super-common any more, but it is a genuine technical issue that does happen. It’s also possible that the candidate just doesn’t glue herself to her email – not everyone owns a smartphone, and some people try to deal with email in batches through the day to keep from being distracted by it every five minutes. And then some people don’t have reliable internet access at home. Or, maybe she needed to ask her boss for the day off first, and wanted confirmation of that before she scheduled the interview with you. There are lots of potentially innocent reasons for the delay.

      Two minutes late and no follow-up note seem like relatively minor dings if you are otherwise very happy with the candidate. How important are these things to the actual work? Is strict attention to the clock and very minor social niceties an important part of your business? Some jobs revolve around that kind of thing, but many don’t.

      1. Anonymous*

        I’d left a voicemail and sent a follow up email to the candidate (regarding scheduling), FYI.

        1. Anonymous*

          I think taking a day to respond to an interview request is more than reasonable. I am 26 and I am often out of cell or email communication for a day or two at a time. Sometimes I don’t carry my phone around and other times I am out doing stuff in the woods.

          1. KellyK*

            Yeah, I wouldn’t see a day as a long response time either. 24 hours turn-around time on email or phone calls is totally reasonable.

            1. JohnQPublic*

              I work at a job where we aren’t allowed to have our personal cel phones with us. Since the job also has some crazy hours, it’s sometimes a couple days before I can return an actual phone call, just due to not being available during business hours. I wouldn’t sweat it.
              Same with the two minutes and the note. Not worth even thinking about unless the position was, say, protocol expert at the White House. Or EA to Miranda from Devil Wears Prada :)

              1. KellyK*

                I was thinking along the same lines. Even with people who are allowed to have their personal phones and check personal email at work, I’d consider it inappropriate to respond to anything job-hunt related during work, and certainly there are people who’ve been fired for that.

                (I also really hate the idea that just because people *can* have email and phone practically everywhere that instant responses are expected.)

                1. Emily*

                  This! I don’t like to respond to these things lightening-fast during normal working hours lest they think, “Ah, so when she works for us she’ll be checking and responding to personal email all day long instead of working.” (Of course, I don’t actually do that. I watch as emails come in, read the ones that look important, and reply only to the most critical ones which is sometimes 0 per day, and then read/reply to the rest after I’m home in the evening. I just don’t want to give the potential employer cause to think I faff around on the Internet all day at work.)

              2. Kelly O*

                My office allows me to have my phone at my desk, but I have always tried to take any sort of personal call away from the cube farm out of both preserving my own privacy and being respectful of the people around me. I may see the phone ring, recognize the number (or know I have my resume out there) and still not answer because I can’t get away at that moment.

                I actually have a phone call scheduled for this afternoon, later in the day, from an agency that called me on Tuesday afternoon. I had the time to step into an empty office and take her initial call, but could not get into the in-depth conversation she wanted at that time, and she understood the need to schedule time.

                Although I will say this – recruiters, when you call, please be sure to say your name and what company you’re with. I had to ask her name and the agency name (and I don’t understand why that seems to annoy people, but I like to know with whom I’m speaking.)

      2. Anon Job Seeker*

        As a job seeker, I completely agree with those who have commented that taking a day to respond isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a big deal. I try to check my e-mail several times a day, especially during regular business hours, for this very reason. But I’m not checking it 24/7, and sometimes I’m busy or away, and can’t check it at all.

        I think employers must not be considering this as a possibility, because I’ve received e-mails sent late in the business day or after business hours, asking to schedule interviews for the next day. In one case, it was a fluke that I even checked my e-mail at that hour, because I’d just arrived home and was ready to crash. If response time is crucial, or something needs to be scheduled at the last minute, a phone call is probably the better way to go. (Otherwise, I really like e-mails! They’re less intrusive than unexpected phone interviews.)

    7. Cassie*

      If the person was a real superstar-in-the-making, then I would choose that person over someone with experience but less impressive. However, I’d be cautious about hiring someone that seems like the perfect candidate without experience (or transferrable experience) – I’ve come across staff members who are articulate and say the right things in an interview, but once they get on the job, they do the bare minimum, are not self-motivated to learn new tools, and are not the superstars they may seem to be.

      1. Suzanne*

        Yes, Cassie! I don’t do hiring, but I remember one of my children’s former teachers who, by all accounts, stood out in the interview so that everyone was blown away by her. In reality, she was, from Pre-K through Master’s degrees, the absolute worst teacher my kids ever had. She simply knew how to interview well, knew all the buzz words, the right things to say, etc. So a good interview is not everything!

    8. Lindsay H.*

      I usually wait at least a few hours before responding to a request for an interview because I don’t wanna look like an eager beaver who has nothing else better to do than to pounce on any job-related email. *pictures a Norman Rockwell-esque-sitting-by-the-radio-for-FDR-to-start-talking moment*

    9. The Other Dawn*

      “How concerning is a candidate’s very mild flakiness during the interview process (e.g., takes a day to respond to request for an interview, 2 minutes late to in-person interview, doesn’t send a follow up note)?”

      Why is taking a day to respond to an interview request considered “flaky”? Not everyone checks their email, voice mail, etc. 50 times a day. Maybe they already have a job and didn’t get home until late so waited until the next day to call. If it took more than a day I would question it though. Also, I wouldn’t call being 2 minutes late to an interview “flaky”. All clocks are different. Maybe your office clock is off? Maybe she hit the wrong floor when she got into the elevator?

  6. anth*

    Dear Prudie has been answering work questions lately – would love to see a post that is an AAM take on other advice/etiquette columnists work Qs!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ha, I write that column in my head all the time. I kind of think it’s probably professional courtesy not to attack other advice columnists, but let’s at least say that advice columnists who don’t specialize in dealing with workplace issues should avoid advising on them. Of course, that makes me also want to note that “career experts” who have rarely hired should stop advising on how to get hired. And then, as you can see, it’s a slippery slope to me creating all kinds of awful posts attacking people who I’m probably supposed to give a respectful (or at least quiet) distance. Not that I always manage to do that.

    2. littlemoose*

      I noticed that too! I kept thinking to myself, “I wonder what Alison would say about this?”

  7. Anonymous*

    I was extended an offer for a position contingent on a background check. I haven’t committed any crime so I think I’ve got it in the bag. However, when I’m signing the release for the background check, I see they are asking for permission to run a credit check. YIKES. I don’t have the best credit, but I certainly don’t have the worst either. Is this going to be a deal breaker? Should I call and confess all my hardships that have led to bad credit so they hear it from me first? I am so nervous right now.

    1. Jeff*

      If you’re in California, they can’t run a credit check on you unless your job specifically deals with finances or reasonably requires a person with good financial handling skills. Not sure what the policies are in other states, but if you can explain why you have bad credit (maxed out credit cards in college that are old on your credit report, had a bad instance with a loan, etc), it would probably be better to be upfront about it and ask your potential employer if that’s going to be a deal-breaker.

      1. Anonymous*

        even if credit never came up in the discussion of the position or the background check? if it was important, do you think they would have mentioned it upfront?

        1. AD*

          Credit checks for non-financial positions are a labor-unfriendly, classist policy and they make me angry.

          Okay, now that’s out of my system: you should not call and confess anything. If something comes up that concerns them, and they don’t give you a chance to explain, then heading it off at the pass wouldn’t have helped anyway. However, I think they are generally looking for really big black marks: bankruptcy, foreclosure, a huge number of bills sent to collections, etc.

          If you’re credit is “not bad”, meaning you have high credit card balances or maybe you’ve made a late payment here or there, I doubt anyone will care.

          1. JT*

            What AD said. Can’t stand credit checks used in this way – it’s an abuse of power.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Me too. In this economy especially, someone’s credit can take a hit after a layoff, medical issue in the family or for themselves, etc. It doesn’t take much anymore to derail it.

          2. The Other Dawn*

            I work at a bank and we recently hired someone with poor credit. This person will be working in our branch. We interviewed him and liked what we heard. We made the decision to check references, credit, background, etc. When we saw his credit report…holy cow! But when we analyzed it further we noticed that all the problems started in 2008, which correlated with the financial crisis. The combination of no longer having full-time work and having an underwater mortgage all contributed to the poor credit history. There were some issues before that, but it definitely accelerated after 2008. We looked at all the accounts he now has and noted they are all current, so that told us he’s really making on effort. He’s not just blowing off his creditors like some people do. After some discussion we decided that we liked his skills and experience enough to overlook the credit report. Not that we won’t monitor the activity at the branch in order to protect ourselves of course. But we talked and decided that if we, as a small bank, wouldn’t give him a shot, a big bank definitely wouldn’t and he would never get out of the hole.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              I forgot to add that when we saw the credit report we decided to call him back in to talk about it. And he confirmed our suspicions, that he was having a difficult time refinancing the house because he was underwater, couldn’t keep up with the bills when he was laid off from his last job, etc. It helps to talk to someone face-to-face about something like this. We could tell that he was honestly making his best effort to get out from under.

            2. Two-cents*

              So glad to hear this! Bravo for checking it out with the candidate and hiring him.

    2. Anon Today*

      Hey! You took my question! lol…

      I actually have a particular very bad black mark on my credit report from five years ago. I’ve been working on improving my credit and my score is now “meh” instead “OMG what is wrong with you!”. However my big black mark is something that would preclude me from most credit issuances (my credit union has worked with me on a car loan & credit card at reasonable rates, but usually I would just be turned down).

      I was offered a job on Friday, emailed the recruiter Sunday to ask if BIG BLACK MARK would result in my offer being revoked and haven’t heard anything.

      I’m trying not to panic, but it’s hard.

      (P.S. is is legal in my state to run credit reports. Further I’m in an industry where it would probably be considered legal in most jurisdictions although I don’t actually handle money, I analyze it, still)

      1. Anna*

        I can’t offer too much help, but two points:

        1) Good for you to clean up your credit — sometimes getting from “OMG” to “meh” is harder than from “meh” to “yay.”
        2) Hooray for your credit union for helping you.

        1. Anon Today*

          Yeah, I can’t say enough good things about my credit union! I’ve been a customer of theirs for 10 years, so they really have much more comprehensive financial data on me than just a credit report.

          Also, loan/credit requests are handled by actual competent people you can talk to. With authority. Awesome.

      2. Kimberley*

        When we run credit checks we’re looking for patterns. Someone who is building their credit back up looks a lot better than someone who is maxed out, makes minimum payments, and makes them late. Good for you for bringing it up first, now you can at least have a dialogue about it.

      3. Anonymous*

        So is it ok to sign the release, but write, “with exception of credit check?”

        1. fposte*

          Hopefully someone with more experience in this area will chime in, but I would suspect that that would get you instantly kicked out of the pool whether they do credit checks or not–they’ll assume it’s for something really bad. You have a much better shot at managing whatever actual information they receive.

          Since you’ve actually had an offer from them, you could actually be proactively candid with the hiring manager and see if s/he can give you some perspective on what kind of problem a credit issue might bring them; however, I’d do that only if there’s something between the position and your credit report that really puts things into jeopardy. If your credit is middling rather than terrible, your recent behavior is solid (no recent defaults or late pay patterns), and it’s not for a money-related job, I’d be inclined not to bring it up–you don’t want to present something as an issue that they wouldn’t likely consider an issue.

    3. JLH*

      It’s probably not going to be a problem, even if you have terrible credit. They’re looking for you owing a LOT of money for something–if you have the normal credit cards, student loans, and etc., (even if you’ve defaulted), it’s not something to worry about.
      Do not go to them explaining why your credit isn’t the greatest–it’s none of their business and it makes you look unprofessional.

    4. Max*

      Depends on the exact position. If it’s a job that involves working directly with money, such as a bank teller or accountant, then many employers will red-flag people with lots of debt because of the theft/embezzlement risk, and it’s unlikely you can say anything to change that. High-level security work and positions dealing with lots confidential information tend to avoid debtors as well, due to the risk of them taking bribes or selling secrets, so telling a sob story won’t help there either.

      If the position you’ve been offered doesn’t involve lots of money or lots of secrets, though, then the position itself probably doesn’t actually REQUIRE someone with good credit. There have been instances of employers doing credit checks even when they don’t really need to, solely because they believe that people who end up with bad credit are terrible at managing their finances or have some other problem that would make them a bad worker. If this is the case, you might be able to avoid that bias by explaining your circumstances, but volunteering that much personal information is rarely a good idea, especially if nobody asked; you risk looking like a whiner who tells a whole long sob story to someone who never asked.

      The credit check might torpedo your chances, depending on the exact nature o the position…but I don’t think there’s really anything you can do about it. You probably don’t want to work with someone who’ll look down on you just because of your credit history anyway.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Keep in mind too that sometimes the form lists every item they might possibly check, but they don’t always check all of it. For instance, they might list credit checks there because they check it for positions that handle money, but your position doesn’t require one.

      1. Elise*

        That was my thought. We do background checks at work for a profession certification we offer. The forms and publications all include the possibility of a credit check — but we haven’t run one in years.

        I think they mostly keep it in as a deterrent. Or possibly so we don’t need to go thru a lot of trouble to add it again later if it turns out to be used in the future.

    6. Off the Grid*

      I have a similar question. My problem is that there is absolutely no record for my credit history. I actually think I’m pretty good with my personal finances (I don’t have as much saved up as I would like, but I’m okay). Could I get around this problem by just explaining that I’ve never held any debt, and therefore don’t have a credit history? Or would it be better just not to bring it up at all?

    7. Student*

      I wouldn’t confess hardships, but I’d make mention of it so the employer doesn’t run into surprises.

      If there is something very ordinary that you can blame your bad credit on, do so. This is pretty much limited to an underwater mortgage or a major healthcare fiasco. Otherwise just be matter-of-fact and try not to drag the employer through a long discussion of your suffering. And say that you’re working on fixing it – being pro-active about addressing problem areas can sometimes offset concerns.

    8. Ariancita*

      You should clarify with your potential employer what kind of background check they’re doing. Most releases will include everything as standard release language, but the employer doesn’t necessarily check everything. I know my employer only checked criminal record for me, but the third party release form had the credit check, health check, drug check, etc language in it.

    9. just another hiring manager...*

      I, too, hate credit checks for employment, but why not email a follow up? You can ask something like, “I noticed that the background check application asks permission to run a credit check. I’m curious as to how this information is used in your hiring process?”

  8. Tara*

    Does anyone have any advice about fair comp time policies? Our staff does a lot of recruiting and we are looking for a fair comp time policy to be fair for everyone? For example, does two nights away equal one comp day? Thoughts?

    1. KayDay*

      I am assuming you are talking about comp time as a courtesy to traveling exempt employees. It’s nearly impossible to have a perfect system, and it needs to be tailored to the specific nature of your travel.

      If people are actually working a full day on the weekend or a holiday, give them a full day off, 1 to 1.

      If they are just traveling and working really long hours, but not on weekends, 1 week away = 1 day off. If they are gone less that a week, I don’t think comp time is warranted. Alternatively, you could say for every 2 full days spent traveling on business, but not actually working (e.g. if they fly out on Sunday and have a return flight Saturday) they get 1 comp day.

      (P.S. I hope this aren’t way off base. I worked one place with an AWESOME comp time policy, but my current organization only gives comp time for “official” work on weekends, and none at all for just traveling. So I tried to average out those two policies into something sensible.)

      1. Tara*

        No this is very helpful. I was trying to get something in the middle, most the staff are not full time recruiters so it’s only during the busier seasons everyone is out of the office. Trying to create a balance to keep everyone happy.

      2. KayDay*

        *Hope this ISN’T*….God I need to proof read better (see other comment). Sheesh!

      3. KellyK*

        Personally, I’d be inclined more toward 1 for 1 for travel on weekends or holidays. A whole day off for a whole Saturday spent on work travel seems fair to me. On the other hand, if it’s two or three hours of driving on a Sunday night, it doesn’t necessarily merit a full day, but maybe a half.

        Other things you might want to consider include how much notice is given for travel, whether there’s any flexibility, and what the expectations are for work on returning. For example, if someone who arrives back from travel at 10 PM on Tuesday night is expected to show up at their normal time on Wednesday morning, more comp time might be in order. Similarly, if travel is routinely last-minute, it’s a much bigger disruption to the employee’s family and overall schedule, so being more generous with the comp time might mitigate that some.

        Note that I’m totally not suggesting an insanely complicated system where an individual employee’s comp time varies based on the notice they were given or their attendance requirements–just that those are things to look at for your org as a whole when you try to figure out what’s reasonable.

        1. KellyK*

          Of course, the other way to handle it is to just go to a Results-Only Work Environment and not track time at all unless people get their stuff done, but that’s a whole cultural change that’s just a little bit outside the scope of your question! :)

    2. LCL*

      Think long and hard before you offer comp time at all. It totally depends on the job whether offering it is a good idea for the company. All of what follows is from my experience with workers paid hourly, not exempt workers. Where I work, with a workgroup that is paid hourly and does shiftwork, the employees love it but scheduling it is a nightmare. They are allowed to accrue 96 hours on the books, and since they are paid doubletime for overtime, each hour worked that they decide is comp equals 2 hours vacation. You can see how you can rapidly schedule yourself into a hole when all of your crew is getting an additional (almost) hundred hours per year of vac. And, since most vac has to be filled with OT paid at 2X, the company has effectively paid 4X pay for 1 hour of work.

      If you decide to offer comp, your accounting must be impeccable. Ours is tracked through payroll so it is done correctly. If you do it as a casual thing, ‘I stayed late so I will leave early tomorrow’ with no record you will regret it. And you should treat the scheduling of time off due to comp just like scheduling vacation, because that’s what it is. If you allow comp time requests to trump vac requests you will have open warfare in your group. Lastly, consider limiting the hours accrued to one week or less (40 hours) and having payroll pay out all accumulated comp after a certain time period.

      1. KellyK*

        That does sound like a scheduling nightmare. I think that if employees are paid hourly and get overtime, and if shifts have to be covered, comp time should be limited to special situations, like holidays.

      2. Lexy*

        At the one office I worked at with comp time, it had to be approved in advanced (as did overtime) so there would be disciplinary measures if someone just “worked late” without permission.

        That said, in the same week it wasn’t a big deal if you worked an hour late and then came in an hour late, but there was no coverage to schedule or anything, so it didn’t impact anyone else (as long as your team members knew where you were and you weren’t missing client meetings to come in late)

        1. KellyK*

          That makes sense. I think that comp time that actually carries over from one pay period to the next is more complicated than just flexing hours in the same pay period. Where I currently work, it’s common for people to do things like leave early for a dentist appointment and make up the hours later in the pay period rather than using leave.

          1. class factotum*

            What is this comp time of which you speak? Doesn’t everyone go to weekend trade shows (set on the weekend so nobody has to miss work) or travel on Sunday and just accept that’s part of the job?

            1. JohnQPublic*

              Time spent traveling should absolutely be compensated for, at a 1 to 1 rate. When traveling your freedom is greatly curtailed because of your job, and that’s the trade off you and your company have agreed to. Trading your freedom to go anywhere and do anything, for the aims and requirements of your company for money and other compensation. If you think of everything in terms of “Would a lawyer charge this as ‘billable hours?'” you’ll stay on the right side of things.

    3. JessA*

      From a job seeker’s perspective, how would you negotiate this if you received a job offer? There is a huge difference between a $50,000 / year job where you work 40 hours a week (roughly 8 or 9 hours per day) vs. one where you work 60 hours a week, working until midnight and being expected to be back in at 9am the next morning.

      1. KayDay*

        You need to tactfully ask how many hours employees normally actually work during the week. Some of it is also industry specific: accountants have busy season and corporate lawyers typically work really long hours–they also get paid well for it.

    4. Lexy*

      To answer your question… what about a policy that reads something like this.

      Comp Time may be awarded with prior managerial approval when travelling for work duties.

      Each overnight required by the trip shall accrue [X] days of comp time (I suggest one day, but could be 1/2).

      Hours spent in transit to a work related event will accrue at a rate of 1/2 day per 3 hours traveling.

      So a person who drives 3 hours for an event and stays over night would accrue 2 days of comp time. That could be a lot if people are traveling all the time, or it could be a little if only a few people travel occasionally.

      1. Anonymous*

        This is nice in theory, but can get messy quick. For example, say someone is traveling from the East Coast US to the West Coast. With layovers, travel is 6 hours both ways, and they are away from Sunday through Saturday. This person now just received 6 days of comp time for the overnights, plus 2 days for the travel, resulting in 8 days of time off for doing his or her job. This one hits close to home because it’s a policy that I had to revise when it got out of hand in a similar way. In a perfect world, jobs that require travel would be compensated for doing so. Of course, we all know we’re not living in a perfect world!

        Comp time is also a tricky term, because it’s regulated by labor laws. You have to be careful how it’s tracked & phrased.

      2. KellyK*

        I’d be careful about the “may” and “with prior management approval” only because management approving the *trip* but not the *comp time* could get really unpleasant. Maybe “Comp time will be awarded for work travel. (Note that all trips must have prior managerial approval.)” with a reference to your existing policy for trips.

        If giving comp time specifically for overnights gets messy, an alternative may be giving comp time for travel and work time only. So if the person spending a week on the West Coast works 10-hour days all week, they get one day of comp time for the long days and another for the travel, rather than 8 days off.

    5. doreen*

      My employer doesn’t really have comp time for exempt employees. We have “schedule adjustments “. If I work a full day on a weekend or holiday , I can take another day off during that pay week. If I travel for 3 hours on Sunday to be somewhere at 8 am Monday, or 3 hours traveling home on Friday after a full day of work , I can take three hours off on another day during that pay week .
      If I can’t adjust my schedule in the same week(s), I’m out of luck. It’s a little better than it sounds, because the pay week starts on Thursday, so Sunday and the following Friday are in different pay weeks.

      1. Camellia*

        This sounds very sensible. I can compare it to how I am paid when traveling for my job. I am a contractor and am paid by the hour. I am paid for all time actually spent traveling and for all time I spend working. Once I arrive at my destination I am not paid for time I spend eating, sleeping, etc.

  9. Anonymous*

    Yay open threads! :)

    What is the best way to thank a colleague who went out of his way to recommend me for a job that I ended up getting?

    1. Lexy*

      Hand written thank you note on Crane stationery! Maybe w/ a Starbucks gift card if you can swing it (like $10… nothing extravagant)

      You probably don’t have to use Crane… but I would ;-)

    2. JLH*

      Depends what he likes and how well you know him. Bottle of his favorite good booze, a nice assortment of pastries, a box of Godivas, edible arrangement, tickets, etc.

    3. Josh S*

      I’d say a personalized and heartfelt thank you card, along with a smallish gift. $10-50 depending on the effort that the colleague pur in. And try to make the gift semi-tailored to the person. If he’s a foodie, a gift cert to a decent restaurant in the area. If he likes booze, a case of good beer or a nice bottle of scotch. Cheap tickets to the sports team (if cheap tickets can be had). Etc etc etc.

      My personal favorite is the “If you give me a job lead and I get hired, I’ll take you for a nice steak dinner.”

    4. Charlotte*

      And mention it to his boss…a lot of employees don’t see enough recognition from their boss.

  10. Anonymous*

    I have a question about the hiring process in a unionized environment (never having worked in one before). Are things like salary, vacation, benefits, etc. negotiable at all or is this all set in stone?

    1. LCL*

      If the position is covered by a collective bargaining agreement, usually anything regarding hard numbers-vacation days accrued per yer, wages for that classification, etc is set in the contract. Within individual work units practices may vary, such as the application of the vacation policy-how many people can be off at once, for example.

      Individual work units may have work rules that only apply to people in that group, and those work rules are part of the collective bargaining agreement, i.e. ‘the contract’.

      Having been both union and nonunion in various jobs, from an employee’s point of view, union is a million times better. One benefit of unions not often spoken of is that the union helps protect you against other employees. There is less of the slick talker/boss’ drug dealer/ extremely attractive coworker getting the best assignments because of their connections. The downside of a union is it is harder to fire the flakes. But experience has shown me that every job has about the same percentage of flakes-turnover is less in the union jobs so you are dealing with the same flakes every year instead of a new batch. Better the devil you know…

      1. Mike C.*

        Not to mention that *everything* is spelled out in the contract, so there is no ambiguity as to wages, benefits and the like. No surprises and no tricks.

      2. Elise*

        In a union job, there is also no benefit to working beyond mediocre level. You cannot get promoted early. You cannot receive a higher bonus. The mediocre employee who was hired before you will always receive the promotion before you. Seniority rules over competency and innovation is not rewarded. As long as you do the bare minimum of your job, you will continue to move up.

        1. Kerry*

          I’ve also worked both union and non-union, and this isn’t true in my experience – I’ve been at non-unionised workplaces where seniority was effectively the only thing taken into consideration for promotions, and the most performance-related pay I’ve seen was at a union shop.

          The one trend I’ve seen borne out across my job history is that it is harder to fire people at unionised workplaces. On the other hand, the most useless employee I’ve ever seen kept on was at a non-union office. So much is down to the individual company.

    2. Laurie*

      Short answer – set in stone, unless an executive steps in on your behalf (as was my experience when I went from temp to permanent). Even if you are “overqualified” for the specifics of the position you are in, in a unionized environment, they are not required to and WILL not upgrade you to the next position up so that you get more money/better title.

    3. AnonA*

      Speaking as someone in a government job with unionized employees, I have to say that it compares unfavorably to the private or nonprofit sector. Think of 70% of the work force doing no real work or work that a computer can replace. Get something done there. Add in a sense of entitlement outsized to anything rational (if my skill set was last useful in 1934, I wouldn’t be crowing about it) and it is an environment which makes you want to stop paying taxes. For most of my coworkers, it is welfare that you dress up for everyday. //end rant//

      1. Anonymous*

        I think union/nonunion and public/private have their differences, but laziness or poor work practices can be found everywhere. I’m currently a unionized government employee who makes 36k a year for a 40 hr work week that is actually 60-70 hrs with no support or even basic office supplies, and am regularly told I’m lazy, overaid, and don’t deserve benefits. My previous job was with a unionized private company with a culture of hour-long “10 minute” breaks, institutionalized sexual harassment, and milk-it-for-all-it’s-worth overtime attitude by my coworkers, all for a salary starting at double what I make now. I think LCL did a great job of summarizing the basic pro/cons of unions. But just like any job, workplaces vary. Some are amazing, some are average, and some end up on Ask A Manager. And neither the public or private sector has a monopoly on any of those categories.

        1. Laurie*

          And speaking as someone who moved from a unionized job to a job in a well-known profit-making global firm, I can attest to the fact that there are as many lazy, undeserving and under-skilled employees in private as there are in govt. The only difference is they are being paid about 40% more for doing less work. I am amazed every day that such folks are not fired on the spot, since apparently that’s what sets apart non-union from union.

          1. AnonA*

            I have worked in all three sectors and have to say that
            Unionized work (white collar) is the last refuge for people who do no work and don’t know how to work. The most strenuous thing while departments do all day is attempt not to fall asleep at their desks (which you can get disciplined for). I had to work with people who never turned on the plastic box on their desk. It’s absurd.

          2. Anonymous*

            So true. I work at a well-known company that isn’t unionized, and the level of laziness and incompetence is staggering. And those are the people who are getting promoted!

  11. KayDay*

    Does anyone have some good resources to improve your writing skills–specifically for substantive professional writing (e.g. reports, briefs, newsletter articles, professional blog posts)?

    1. Camellia*

      Do you mean help with things such as grammar and sentence structure; help such as ‘to construct a good paragraph you need an opening sentence, two to four supporting sentences, and a closing sentence’; or help to improve creative writing skills?

      1. KayDay*

        I’m most interested in improving technical/research writing (such as white papers and reports, or on the somewhat more creative side, professional blog posts). That would include, but not be limited to, sentence structure and grammar, but at a somewhat advanced level. Or at least something more advanced than “have a thesis statement that is supported by facts.”

        Most of my grammar errors are the result of sloppy proof reading, not lack of knowledge =\
        (…or in the case of the fragment above: not caring because it’s a @#$!ing blog comment).

        1. Phyllis*

          The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman is a great resource. It’s main focus is developing your freelance business, but he gives good technical writing tips as well.

        2. Anon*

          A friend suggested for me the delightful book “Bugs in Writing.” The author’s examples are so humorous that I read chapter after chapter just for sheer enjoyment. But it’s a real text on common grammatical errors and covers a lot of ground.

    2. Lesley*

      For any kind of writing, Strunk and White’s Elements of Style is a great place to start. I find a lot of useful daily tips in Ragan’s newsletters.

      I own a ton of books on writing, but the best way that I’ve found to improve my writing is to learn from great writing itself, not from guides or textbooks. So, if you want to learn how to write a professional blog post, look at some professional blogs and really examine what you like about them. If you want to write a great newsletter article, look at newsletter articles. Look at how they write for different audiences, what types of words they use, the length of sentences, etc. Get really nitty-gritty on the examples that you like the best. Then write, and give your own work the same examination. That’s how I’ve learned the most about writing in all those different formats.

      1. Ariancita*

        I’m going to disagree with Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. There’s a lot wrong with the advice in that book. For quick grammar tips, there’s Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips. I’m not sure about technical guides for white papers and such, but just read several examples and try to follow that usage/style/language? I write academic in both science and social science (which are completely different styles of writing) and found that reading the kinds of things I’d be writing to be the most useful.

          1. Editor*

            Linguistics professors find a lot of problems with Strunk & White, including the emphasis on avoiding the passive voice. Some research has shown that the things to avoid listed in the book are frequently found in the text, showing that the writers didn’t follow their own rules (or that White, when he revised the book, didn’t follow the rules he was writing about). Language Log has many posts about the Elements of Style, and Geoff Pullum often writes about the passive voice, showing how some people call things “passive” when the wording is not actually passive. Here’s a sample:

            Grammar Girl is a much better source than Strunk & White. John McIntyre, who blogs at the Baltimore Sun, also is very helpful:

            @johnemcintyre (Twitter; if you go to the blog from Twitter, you avoid the paywall)

    3. JT*

      I have a presentation about “punchy effective writing” that would apply to newsletters and blog posts, at least as food for thought.

      It’s not online at the moment, but if you email me via the link from my name to my website I’ll send you a copy.

  12. Janet*

    OK, so I recently saw my dream job posted. I have about 12 years of experience in my field. I meet the criteria for the job with the exception of one thing that I’m unsure of – supervisory experience. I have never directly supervised a full-time employee. However, at one job I supervised 2 full-time interns and 4 part-time interns. I set goals, schedules, met with them regularly, filled out their evaluations and coached them. At another job I managed a group of 15 outside part-time freelancers. They had three year contracts to complete work and I was their main manager. I assigned work, reviewed their work, dealt with their grievances, completed evaluations for them and on occasion, dealt with dismissals or official reprimands.

    While neither one was the traditional “I have this full-time person reporting to me full-time at a desk 3 feet from my own desk” both seem like I should be able to count them as supervisory experience on the application. I would, of course, explain in detail what I did if I secure an interview.

    I’m concerned that they’ll see me as lying by counting this though. Thoughts?

    1. Victoria*

      First: As Alison always says, the list of qualifications is a wish list, not something set in stone.

      Second: Your experience totally counts, particularly your experience with the interns. If you actually have to deal with an application system that asks “Do you have experience supervising others?” you can absolutely say yes.

    2. Anlyn*

      I’m not a manager, but I wouldn’t see this as lying. You DID supervise people, and that, to me, is supervisory experience. I think your examples fit. Now, whether it fits for what they need is another question–but you won’t know unless you try.

    3. A Bug!*

      I’d say you’re fine. What you describe is supervisory experience, and you are not lying to indicate it on your resume. Don’t worry about it.

      If you get an interview, be confident about your experience and when you talk about it, don’t compare your experience negatively against some imaginary better experience, and don’t talk as if you’re not sure your experience counts. The interviewer will decide if it counts or not.

      Good luck!

    4. Anonymous*

      that counts! go for it. remember, the qualifications are more like a wishlist. I just got a job where the qualification was 3 years experience in a university setting. i did not meet that but i had enough experience through a combination of other factors to work around it.

    5. K.*

      I’ve managed interns, volunteers, and freelancers and I totally count it as supervisory experience – because it is! It’s not lying.

    6. Andie*

      I would like to hear AAM’s take on this as well. I am in the same boat. I would like to move to a Director level position but I don’t have a formal supervisory role in my job description. I have also supervised interns and volunteers depending on the project. I work for a nonprofit and my job is considered self-directed. I dont have anyone working under me and I report directly to the VP of the department whereas others in my department are hourly and report to a Director who reports to the VP of the department. I feel like I am stuck in the middle and the lack of a formal supervisory role will hurt my chances to move to a Director role at another non-profit. There is no opportunity to move forward at my current nonprofit so in order to move up I would have to leave the organization.

      1. Janet*

        Thanks everybody, I appreciate it!

        I am a little gun-shy about it because the last time I interviewed for a management job, I met with a rather antagonistic hiring manager who didn’t think this experience measured up saying “So you didn’t have a team of full-time staffers reporting to you? They were just interns? And freelancers? *eye rolling and big sighs* – Oh.”

        So I’m a little nervous that they’d think I’m trying to fluff myself up. I’m just so ready to hit that next level of my career.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It definitely counts as supervisory experience. It might not be sufficient for what they’re looking for, but it certainly counts and, as others have said, you can let them make that call.

        1. Piper*

          And hopefully, even if it’s not exactly what you’re looking for, you won’t run into another eye roller/sigher again. What a rude jacka$$.

  13. Sunshine*

    My husband’s company sent out some job vacancies, a couple which I want to apply to. I am not sure if I should mention that my husband works there. I feel like it might help me to get my foot in the door, but I do not want to come across as dependent.

    I was thinking of mentioning it in the first paragraph of my cover letter right behind other reasons why I want to work there. I do not want to mention his name specifically. Only that he works there (we have the same last name, so they could do a search if desired). Then move onto the second paragraph explaining why I would be a good candidate for the job.

    Please help. I am confused and unsure of what to do.

    1. A Bug!*

      Don’t mention your husband at all. It may be obvious anyway, but it’s important to separate your personal and professional.

      The only reason you’d mention someone in a cover letter is if that person had brought the posting to your attention and specifically suggested you apply because that person has knowledge of how you work and would be able and willing to vouch for you to the hiring manager.

      Your husband is not in a position to do this, because you are married and the perception of the relationship will default to “personal” and not “professional.”

      1. Camellia*

        Definitely do not mention it in your resume or cover letter. Many job applications do ask if you know anyone in the company and you can answer it then.

    2. Natalie*

      It seems like a bad idea to me. It doesn’t really have anything to do with your fit for the job and, depending on the company, it seems to me it could actually hurt your chances.

    3. Kelly O*

      Think really long and hard about if you REALLY want to work for the same company as your spouse, even if you know that the two of you either would be fine, or wouldn’t even be in a position to deal with each other. For my husband and me, it wasn’t us, it seemed like everyone else was weirder about it.

      And then when he got fired and I have to keep coming here every day, working with the person brought in to replace him, and knowing the way our upper management treated him… that’s not easy. It is definitely enough to put me off working at another company with him ever again.

      1. KellyK*

        Really good point! That had to be incredibly unpleasant to deal with.

        A related concern is that a husband and wife working for the same company are putting all their family’s financial eggs in one basket. If, for example, they have massive layoffs, you could both be hit by it at once, rather than at least having one spouse’s income to depend on.

        1. Anonymous*

          It also may increase the time you spend together and not in a positive way. If you’ve got a Ph.D in Chocolate Teapot Thermodymanics and are working in R&D, and he’s working in overseas distribution, this probably won’t be an issue. But if you’re foreman of the chocolate manufacturing and he’s foreman of teapot manufacturing, you may end up having more forced interactions than you’d like. My parents work together and this can be an issue – even after over 30 years!

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            Excellent! This usage is exactly what I was intending when I unleashed Chocolate Teapots onto this site!

            I have worked at a few companies with both halves of a couple and it seemed to help greatly when they did not interact directly with one another.

        2. Anonymous*

          My husband and I work for the same company – actually met at work years ago. It’s been generally fine overall; less gas because we can commute to/from together, we can work with both departments to see who’s a better fit for time off with a sick kid that particular day. etc.

          HOWEVER (you knew that was coming!): the day the company announced an across-the-board pay cut due to the economy back in ’09? Not a fun day. Hell, not a fun year. It was a gigantic hit to our budget. HUGE.

          We got our pay back and actually, each of us have recieved subsequent raises but….yeah. All Eggs In One Basket is a saying for a reason.

          1. NicoleW*

            We’ve been there! That 3-year long wage freeze is a b*tch when it’s both of you!

            Another thing to note is that if you’re in similar departments, you will have the same crunch times. Even though my spouse and I don’t work in the same office location, we work on different aspects of the same projects. We debate over who can work late and who can pick up our daughter. We may both be more stressed at the same times. We have to go out of town for work at the same times and find overnight care for our daughter. Just something to think about!

    4. Amanda*

      I wouldn’t mention it at all. I was in a similar position some number of years ago and chose not to mention it – especially since I knew that my boyfriend would be working in a different department. I got the job based on my own merit.

      However, if you would be working in the same department and/or the company has a policy regarding this, then you may want to be up front if you get an interview. In the company I applied to, there was only an issue if you worked in the same department – which is why I didn’t mention it.

    5. anon*

      This may be a different situation because it’s a seasonal, casual environment, but my boyfriend and I applied to work as kayaking guides at the same company. We were hoping to move out there together. I didn’t mention him in my cover letter. I didn’t get the job, but he did. He later mentioned me in a conversation with the company’s president, and I ended up getting the job. They were like, “Oh, we didn’t realize you were a package deal!” They were totally fine with it. In fact, it made me a more viable candidate because they thought we’d be more committed if we worked together. It worked out great and was the my favorite job ever. I know some universities also negotiate packages with couples because they know they can often only get one star professor if they also offer a job to their spouse. This may not apply to your job at all, but I was surprised that some companies are actually welcoming of the idea. It depends on the situation.

    6. perrik*

      First thing to do is check the company’s HR policies.

      My husband’s employer has an anti-nepotism policy; I can work for the organization in a different business unit, but not for the unit which employs my husband. And by business unit, we’re talking separate companies under the company umbrella, not marketing vs accounting.

      Naturally the nepotism policy does not apply to the family which has been running the parent company for several decades…

  14. Anlyn*

    Hi, lurker here, have posted a couple of times as an anonymous. Two questions:

    Regarding applications…I saw somewhere that applications aren’t always required. Is that true? One of my issues when job-searching is filling out all the required info that I no longer have, and having to put down previous manager’s name and contact info (whom I don’t want to know I’m looking), and salary information, and the like. If applications aren’t always required, that takes a load of my mind.

    That leads into question two, regarding former managers. I have been in this position (IT) for 15 years; I started when I was 20. I worked a six-month stint doing admin/data entry work before that, and fast-food service before that. I do not remember either manager’s names. The six-month stint probably don’t even remember me, and I highly doubt the manager of the fast-food place remembers me. Is that really a red flag to hiring managers? I have recently changed managers due to an organizational restructure, but I still don’t want my previous manager knowing (it’s only been about 4 months since the change), because he’s a blabbermouth, and my director would probably find out about it. So I don’t have any previous managers for hiring managers to find. Thoughts?

    1. Student*

      I haven’t really seen any place where they’d want detailed info on jobs and managers from 15 years ago. Even clearance checks for top-secret jobs don’t go back that far, so I’d seriously question the judgement of any workplace where they want this information. I certainly don’t remember my managers from grunt jobs I held years ago.

      If you’ve had one manager for 15 years, and you don’t want them to contact that manager because you don’t want to compromise your job, that is okay. Not ideal, but acceptable. Make sure you have 3 other good references that you can put forward. Co-workers, perhaps clients, perhaps subordinates or former subordinates if it’s appropriate for the position. They want a sense of whether you’re a decent human to work with and whether you’re honest with your accomplishments and job duties.

      1. Anon*

        I’ve applied to a couple of jobs at different public universities and the majority have requested a complete work history since graduating high school.

        Oy vey.

        1. Piper*

          Yep. And for me, that’s quite a laundry list of restaurant and retail stints, some of which are out of business, and I’m fairly certain due to the turnover in those industries that the managers I worked for are no longer there. So ridiculous. As if someone who worked with me when I was a 17 year old kid working a part-time summer job in a bagel shop has any inkling of the kind of skills I have or the work I do now (15 years later).

      2. Anlyn*

        Thank you for the info…that’s what I thought, and what common sense tells me, but common sense isn’t always accurate. :)

  15. Jubilance*

    I got a question – maybe someone else has been in this position.

    I’m trying to transition out of a technical, mostly laboratory role into something less technical & with no lab time. I work at a manufacturing facility, so my opportunities to do that at my current location for my current employer is pretty much nil. But my employer does have another business facility about 2 miles from mine. My company mentor actually works at this facility, as the CIO for that business unit. In our mentoring relationship, he learned about my career goals & offered to help me – he told me about an open Business Analyst position & encouraged me to apply, after he had spoken to the hiring manager about me. I don’t have any FT experience as a Business Analyst, but I do project management currently & other facets of the job in my current position. Well, I had a phone interview with a screener, who proceeded to ask me about my experience with specific software. I was a bit baffled because I thought I made it clear that I don’t currently work as a Business Analyst & therefore am not famililar with the specific software. However, I am experienced in project management, writing requirements documents, managing stakeholders, alpha/beta testing, etc. Anyway, after my phone screen, the next day I got an automated rejection from the system.

    So my question is…how should I handle this now with my mentor? I don’t know if he led me astray, or if the hiring manager simply told him they would give me a phone screen as a courtesy to him. Also, I really want to transition out of my lab role. I have another mentor who has done this – she started in a role similar to mine & transitioned out via IT (Business Analyst). Has anyone done this successfully & how did you do it?

    1. AD*

      Applying for an internal position can be very weird, because many companies have policies that the hiring manager has to talk to all internal candidates. It makes it very hard to suss out whether or not you are a serious candidate, and it may have been hard for your mentor to tell, as well.

      All that said, I wouldn’t be discouraged by this not working out the first time. I would trust that your mentor hasn’t sent you down a futile path, and talk to him about what you could do to be a stronger candidate next time something opens up. One upside to internal candidacy is that you have a good chance of getting feedback from the hiring manager herself, as well.

      1. AD*

        P.S. The best BA’s I’ve known have come from the team with which they work, not from IT (e.g. the BA working on software for the finance team came from the finance group), so it is definitely possible. Are there any IT projects at your facility or company-wide software that you use regularly? Can you volunteer to be an end-user tester next time there are changes or upgrades?

      2. Jubilance*

        That’s a great suggestion thanks.

        I work for a HUGE company, and unfortunately, my business unit’s HQ is located on the East Coast while I’m in the Midwest at a manufacturing site. So that limits my exposure to the IT team – they work at HQ & I have no visibility to their projects or vice versa. Generally our IT needs tend to be handled in-house, for example, I’ve become a pro at developing Excel-based Macros to do various things (route samples, capture & analyze data, etc). Generally company wide or even business unit wide software is pushed down from corporate with no input from end users (which is often reflected by the numerous griping you hear from users). But I will talk to manager about possibly volunteering as an end user – thanks!

        1. Laurie*

          @Jubilance, I made the switch from Finance to a BA role and got exactly the kind of screening question you did. My response was, “I have never worked with this ERP#1 application, but I’ve used big ERP#2 and this other ERP#3 one extensively and I understand databases, and once you know one, you know them all. It’s just about picking up where to click etc.”… This, I told the junior recruiter. When I got the next interview with the senior recruiter, she asked me the same thing, and I responded with the same answer. On it went, all the way to the fifth and final interview, and they all asked me this question. Apparently they were satisfied with my response, because I work there now.

  16. Anonymous*

    I don’t have a specific question, but I need some positive juju from the crowd because I have a third interview with a company in an hour! I am excited about the interview and the position, and I am ready for this job search to be OVER. I can’t take the roller coaster anymore! Wish me luck!

  17. Eva*

    I’m considering trying my hand at doing MBTI personality type workshops at companies to teach better understanding of differences in communication and decision-making styles, and I would absolutely love to hear about people’s experiences (good and bad) with such workshops. So if you’ve done the MBTI for work, please tell me your experience with it! How did you like it, and what is your impression of its impact in the workplace?

    1. Lesley*

      I’ve never done a workshop, but my boss had our three-person department do MBTI and we shared the results with each other and used them to talk about how we all work best and how we can work best with each other. Also, my whole department did Strength Finders, we’ve discussed those too.

      I did find the MBTI info useful–especially in developing a relationship with my boss. She’s an E and I’m and I, so acknowledging the base-level difference really helps us work well together.

    2. KayDay*

      I have mixed feelings about those things. I took the test (I’ve never done a workshop) twice in college–my 3rd letter actually was different each time I took the test.

      I think they are a helpful way to learn more about yourself and the different type of personalities that exist, but they make it too easy to stereotype people. For example, I’m an introvert–on a scale of Bill Clinton to Ted Kaczynski, I’m almost a Ted Kaczynski (minus the homicidal tenancies). That said, I hate working alone. I like helping people and I like working in an active environment, I just need a few hours by myself at some point to re-charge. As Lesley says below, “acknowledging the base-level difference really helps” BUT it’s also important that people don’t automatically assume, “well, she’s introverted, so she definitely doesn’t want to work on this project because it involves a lot of people.” In reality, I want to work on the project with a lot of people, and then take a walk by myself over lunch.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, as an actual psychological theory Briggs-Meyers is pretty questionable (see, say,; it’s not looking any more viable than astrology, enneagrams, etc., as a base typology.

        However, schematics can be a way of opening up people’s understanding that what drives me isn’t what drives you, which is often a pretty tough concept to understand. It was a real eye-opener for me to realize that being part of something exciting was a key reward for a colleague of mine, whereas I value a lack of excitement as a sign that things are being well-managed, so what I saw as a problem wasn’t looking like a problem to her.

        So I’d encourage it focusing on it a source of dialogue rather than as a source of personal truth.

        1. Eva*

          Ahem! As you can probably guess, I very much beg to differ that MBTI is on par with astrology and Enneagram! :)

          I am well acquainted with the criticisms of MBTI (in fact, we link to that same Skeptoid podcast on my site: However, there are actually decent correlations with the psychologists’ preferred model of personality, Big Five, where (more or less) the same traits run on a continuum:

          It’s un-scientific to force binarity, but doing so nevertheless results in a genuine similarity between the people who go into the same one of the 16 boxes, which is why there are smart, skeptical people who take MBTI seriously. For instance, I’ve heard from several different sources that everyone has to take the MBTI on their first day at Harvard Business School – and a few legit economics journals have published papers featuring the MBTI (e.g.

          1. fposte*

            We’ll agree to disagree on this one :-). Like I said, I think the conversation will still be valuable anyway. But I would love to see you do the James Randi thing of giving everybody their result, with narrative details to flesh it out, having them rate its accuracy, and then having them pass it to the person behind them only to discover that everybody got the same one.

            1. Eva*

              While I haven’t done that, I do have a lot experience pitching MBTI to new people I meet by handing over a pamphlet I own and having them read the description therein of the type I believe to be theirs. The last time I did it was a week ago with a dentist acquaintance. I first asked him to read the ISTJ description, but he handed the pamphlet back after the first few paragraphs, saying that it was ‘too hard, I’m not that hard.’ I asked him to read the ISFJ description instead, and then he was dumb-struck by how well that description fit him, reading phrases out loud like they were the lyrics of the theme song of his life. And I have lots more stories like that. Of course, I realize that anecdotal evidence is useless to others, and it’s fine to agree to disagree, but I do want to close by calling attention to those correlations with the Big Five again. :)

              1. fposte*

                It’s not just that it’s anecdotal, it’s that it’s anecdotal with no control for confirmation bias, which operates strongly in any description of individual traits. That’s why the Randi experiment is so illuminating; it puts the confirmation bias right out there, because his students had the same reaction as your dentist, being deeply impressed by the truth of their personal personality profile–which turned out to be the exact same one everybody else got.

                I actually have found some enneagram approaches enlightening, and I don’t believe for a moment in them scientifically–it’s just that they open up the possibility of thinking about the different ways we negotiate with the world. And that can be a useful conversation in a group.

                1. Eva*

                  The point of my anecdote (which I could have made more clear) was the stark contrast in the dentist’s reactions to the two profiles I had him read. If you think confirmation bias is the primary force at play, how do you explain his outright rejection of the first profile?

                  The Forer (not Randi) profile you refer to was made up of statements that were vague and ambiguous to the point of catch-all meaninglessness, e.g. “At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved.” ( Sure, ‘at times’ even the Unabomber could be gregarious!

                  MBTI profiles, on the other hand, go out on a limb in describing quite distinct personalities, and this definitiveness mitigates confirmation bias. For instance, imagine giving AAM this ESFP profile which includes the line: “They might not be the best advice-givers in the world, because they dislike theory and future-planning.” :) ( (And if someone wants to quibble about the qualifier ‘might’, I give you this continuation: “For the ESFP, the entire world is a stage. They love to be the center of attention and perform for people. They’re constantly putting on a show for others to entertain them and make them happy.” Still think it sounds like it could be AAM? (Or for that matter the Unabomber? :D))

              2. Editor*

                This column by William Pannapacker from the Chronicle of Higher Education is interesting:


                One thing he noticed is that a lot of people in the session he was leading didn’t come up as introverts, presumably because they answered the questions as they thought they “should” answer them. What he doesn’t say explicitly is that if the people taking the test can game the test, then the test results have to be suspect.

    3. Anonymous*

      My former company offered an MBTI class, and my boss suggested I take it. So I did.

      It was good info for me, even though I wasn’t surprised by any of the results. The class I did was online/conference call, which made it a little harder to interact with everyone.

      Alas, I was the only one on my team taking the class, so it never really lead anywhere afterward. I think it can be a useful tool if everyone on a team or in an organization takes the class – it can help you learn better ways to work together.

    4. S*

      Not the MBTI test, but my company uses the Personalysis tests. They were previously just used for management level and higher, and only as a pre-hiring step, but a few years ago, they tested the remaining people in the company and held two-day meetings with each department and the creator of the tests to discuss the results. I thought it would be hokey, but not only are they incredibly accurate (and not just in the way that fortune cookies and horoscopes can be), but with proper interpretation, are very insightful and useful in business relationships.

      The test results are very in-depth (there are four “quadrants”, but also three “levels” of your personality that are formed at various stages of maturity), and as I said, very accurate. He correctly “intuited” that one member of our team was the only girl with older brothers–her intuitive self was to be introverted and reserved, but she’d been socialized to be very boisterous and outgoing. Anyway, as a member of the accounting department, it was no surprise that most of us were analytical and rules-oriented. It was interesting to note the people that were not as much that way, and would in fact be irritated by our need for constant clarification on things.

      These days, every candidate is tested before hiring, and the results are considered during hiring, I’m sure, but then the summary results are displayed on each employees desk, so you can see at a glance whether someone is “red” and probably just wants you to cut to the chase and they’ll ask follow-up questions if they need, or if they’re “blue” and need a little small talk to warm up.

      Again, I don’t know as much about the MBTI, and there are some people who will be skeptical and nay-saying no matter what, but I think tests like these, and especially the personalized get-togethers to go over the results as a department, can be valuable, as long as the discussion and results are kept to a professional context.

    5. mh_76*

      I took the MBTI years ago and, while I have no idea where the results are, I do remember that I was almost dead-center for 3 of the 4 categories (the only definite letter being “E”). There are people who are more…I guess the right word is “distinct” and it can probably be helpful in understanding their innate personalities / work-styles but for me, it wasn’t really helpful because I’m so close to the middle.

      1. A Teacher*

        I’m a dual credit high school health careers teacher and my students take it as a part of the curriculum through the local junior college. The results are pretty accurate and do help them to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses.

        Personally, I’ve taken MBTI in both rounds of graduate school and while working in the school setting. I think it is pretty accurate and can be useful if you can make the information relevant to the environment in which you are presenting.

    6. AnonA*

      Dunning’s book on MBTI with regard to careers changed my career path and now I know the added value I bring. Would totally look at this, since she most succinctly ties it into work style and jobs.

      1. Eva*

        @ Lesley, KayDay, Anonymous, S, mh_76, A Teacher, and AnonA: Thank you all for replying! It cheers me to hear that learning about personality differences can indeed have a positive impact in the workplace. For all my love of MBTI, I find myself focusing on all the problems rather than the benefits of introducing MBTI to the workplace (e.g. the problem of stereotyping that KayDay mentions). So coming from that mindspace I have two follow-up questions for you:

        1) Sensers (those with an ‘S’ as their second letter) on average seem to be less interested in MBTI than iNtuitives (those with an ‘N’ as their second letter). (Theoretically that makes sense, since part of preferring Sensing *is* lacking interest in theory for theory’s sake.) I find it pretty easy to give iNtuitives an ‘aha experience’ but I’d love to hear about success stories where Sensers (and especially Extroverted Sensers, who seem to be the least into it of all the types) really got into applying MBTI insights at work.

        1) Sometimes people want to be a different type than it’s fairly obvious to others that they are, particularly if they perceive that there is something ‘wrong’ with one of their traits for the job they’re in. For instance, a male Feeler engineer wants to see himself as a Thinker, or a Perceiver in a leadership position believes herself to be Judging, or a Senser in a theory-heavy, academic environment assumes he must be iNtuitive. Of course the person always gets last say on their type, which I do think is for the best, but on the other hand it really defeats the purpose of the exercise if someone is egregiously mistyped. Do any of you have any experience with this phenomenon and how to counter it?

        1. A Teacher*

          My experience with implementing MBTI really comes from teaching. I can’t really say much to #2, I do get where you’re going with it though. My students have to do a reflective exercise and then we tie in another personality profile (ColorQuiz–or something similar, based on what the college has laid out for the year) sometimes seeing how even though they are different the results are fairly similar helps the students grasp the concept of what their true personality is like. We do a series of personality profiles/self-assessments/communication surveys, etc…over the course and most of them like to discuss it. They are put into a group based on their “color” and personality and have to work together to implement a project–which they find they have to work together.

          I will say that I always emphasize that the survey/assessment/test is just a “snap-shot” in time and that we are not static individuals but rather on a continuum. Though we like homeostasis, most of us have days (or moments) where we fluctuate so as someone that is more of a sensor (and an introvert to the nth degree) I have moments were I can be more of an expresser and more of an extrovert based on the dynamics of the group. Explaining it that way to my students seems to be beneficial –I also give examples of what I mean, or show clips of those behaviors from TV shows/Cartoons.

          1. Eva*

            Thanks for replying! Heh, maybe the trick is to get ’em while they’re young and malleable. ;)

            I’d love to know which (MBTI-related) examples and clips you’re using?

        2. Lesley*

          I can’t really speak to either of your questions: I’m an INFJ–Seems dead-on to me (and to the others on my team about me). It also fits my career path…so can’t help you much. Everyone I know who has taken seems to agree with the results, even if they were I surprise (I thought I’d be an ISTJ, but I’m pretty close on those two middle letters).

          1. Eva*

            Thanks for replying! It’s cheering to hear that doing MBTI in the workplace *can* be productive smooth sailing for everyone. :)

  18. your mileage may vary*

    Couple of questions about the comments section of the blog:

    1. Why are some of the poster’s names in blue and the other’s in black?

    2. Why do some of the comments get boxed in with blue background?

    3. Is there any way to track which comments you’ve read? For instance, I’m typing this as the 54th comment so far today. I expect the total to be in the hundreds. Is there an easy way for me to pop to the responses I haven’t yet seen?

    Love your blog, AAM!

    1. Natalie*

      1. If you include a website when you type in your comment, you will get a blue name (it’s a link).

      2. I’ve only seen that on Allison’s comments, and only when they are a main comment and not a reply.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I am weirdly excited to have questions about the inner workings of the site!

      1. Why are some of the poster’s names in blue and the other’s in black?

      If you fill in the “website” field when you leave your comment, then people can click on your name and be taken to your website. This turns your name blue, because it’s now a link.

      2. Why do some of the comments get boxed in with blue background?

      When I leave a comment, it’s shaded in blue — this is a WordPress feature to call special attention to comments from the blog owner. If someone replies to that comment, they end up in the blue too. (This doesn’t always happen reliably though. For instance, this comment may or may not end up being blue.)

      3. Is there any way to track which comments you’ve read? For instance, I’m typing this as the 54th comment so far today. I expect the total to be in the hundreds. Is there an easy way for me to pop to the responses I haven’t yet seen?

      Not exactly, but if you follow the comments feed, you’ll see every comment as they come in:
      This is really designed for people to subscribe to in a news reader, but there’s no reason you can’t look at the feed itself.

      1. A Bug!*

        Your comment does have a blue line on the side of it, but not the blue box. Does the blue box come in when you make a top-level comment rather than a reply, maybe?

        I am too lazy to confirm by going back to previous posts, but that would be my first guess.

        1. Josh S*

          That’s right. When Alison makes an original comment (rather than a reply) it shows with the full blue box. (Also, any replies to her comment will be within that same blue box.) When she makes a reply, it shows with the blue bar to the left.

    3. A. Nonymous*

      your mileage may vary–
      Are you a Libba Bray fan? Because that was the title of one of her blog posts a while ago. I loved that post so much that I printed it out and stuck it on my wall.

      1. Natalie*

        It’s a pretty common internet saying. One of the message boards I used to frequent had actually gotten to the point of abbreviating on a regular basis – YMMV.

      2. your mileage may vary*

        It’s just because of the internet saying. I thought about making my handle YMMV but I didn’t know if it was internet-wide or just an abbreviation on some boards I follow.

        1. A. Nonymous*

          Ah, I see. I’m not down with internet lingo at all…it’s sad. I have to Google pretty much everything I come across.

          1. Alisha*

            Me too. The only ones I knew before getting in-home high-speed internet access five years ago were:

            –A/S/L? (Relic from AOL chatrooms. *Hides in embarassment.*)
            –BRB (Ditto.)

  19. Natalie*

    Are there any accounting/financial management types out there? I am looking for a blog or a community focused on that career area.

    I got a battlefield promotion a couple of months ago to bookkeeper/accounting assistant. I am actually really enjoying the work and I’m thinking of staying in this area. But I really don’t know anything about the field (I was liberal arts in college and have been in admin/customer service since college). I also can’t move up in my company in this department (long story) so I can’t learn a lot about it from here.

    1. Lexy*

      Going Concern is geared toward CPAs (Big4 tax & audit professionals) It has a kind of tabloidy/irreverent tone and the commenters can be either hilarious/helpful/awful depending on the article.

      Its articles are a mixture of career advice & industry news.

          1. Jamie*

            Another auditor here. I’m usually in the ‘auditing is awesome’ camp, but I’m on day 20 without a day off and I can’t even remember what a 9 hour day feels like anymore…

            So right now I’m definitely not in the auditing is awesome camp. I went to Camp Auditing Sucks this summer – and I am so never attending this camp again.

      1. Lexy*

        Also, I didn’t mean to imply that only Big4 tax & audit pros are CPAs… more that the blog I mentioned focuses on the big accounting firm career path and less so on smaller firms, private practice or industry work.

    2. S*

      When I was in Accounts Payable, I joined The Accounts Payable Network (TAPN) on and off–they have a pretty robust archive of helpful documents and templates, and a mildly active discussion forum. I learned a lot reading the discussion forums, and even participated a few times. IOFM has a website and is supposed to be similarly helpful, but I don’t find their website as user friendly (more visually friendly than TAPN, but not as useful, in my opinion). There is the FLEx network, but it is expensive (our company has a corporate membership), and it was more geared toward high-level and financial people, not the lower echelon involved in the day-to-day accounting and bookkeeping.

    3. Malissa*

      Linkedin has tons of useful accounting groups. If you are really interested in this field I’d suggest you see what it would take to get a BS in accounting, you’ll need it if you are going to get serious in the field. Also have a quickbooks certification at your level can open doors to other companies. If you really like the field you’ll end up in grad school getting your hours in so you can sit for the CPA exam, which is where I am now.

      1. Natalie*

        Thanks! I have a BA but there is some tuition reimbursement offered through my company so getting another degree isn’t entirely out of the question.

  20. Lisa*

    Considering going back to my old company, left only 3 months ago. The grass wasn’t greener, but old boss has reservations about if I can truly commit. He is afraid I will change my mind, which might happen but I don’t think its unreasonable to think I won’t stay forever (til retirement , i am 32). Is going back with the intention of at least another year or 2 not enough ? I know i won’t ever gain his trust regardless of how long i do stay, but i was happier there.

    1. Laurie*

      Meh. This is similar to AAM’s previous posts about taking a counteroffer (don’t), because all the reasons why you left are still there. And it’s reasonable for your previous manager to not want to hire you for 1 year. They are at least hoping for enough time for their investment in you (time, training, resources) to pay off, and 1-2 years is not long enough.

    2. A Bug!*

      Well, first of all, whether or not to take you back is your old boss’s decision to make, reasonable or not. So don’t get too hung up on that bit.

      But: your boss’s caution is reasonable. How reasonable it is depends on how long you were with them before you quit for the other employment, but your boss’s caution is absolutely reasonable.

      You quit three months ago. There was something about your employment that caused you to make that decision. Your decision turned out to be the wrong decision, but the underlying cause of it has presumably not changed.

      It’s reasonable for your boss to expect that you will leave as soon as you find something better. The fact that you are bailing on your new employer after only three months indicates that you don’t have a ton of issue there.

      Unfortunately, this is the risk you take when changing jobs. You can never be 100% certain your new one will be better than your old one. Sometimes, “the devil you know,” and all that.

      Sorry to hear you’re in such a position and I hope your old boss takes you back and you are able to build up some dependability.

      1. Lisa*

        I was there for 4 years, and i wouldn’t be retrained since none of the processes have changed. The reasons I left have evaporated since the boss made some major changes in structure since I left. My mentor was promoted, and went to my boss asking about taking me back. I didn’t go to them, but did tell my mentor that I missed it there and that my current place wasnt working out. I have since interviewed elsewhere and was offered 4 other jobs, but i keep comparing them to my last job, and clearly that is where i want to be. I miss the work, the clients, the process. I left because of money, was paid 30-40k less than my male counterparts, never got big clients (didnt bother me as much as not getting small clients that my expertise warranted tho), and felt the favoritism to a few people made me a second class employee. I also wanted to learn other things, and that wasnt going to happen with that setup. I was there for 4 years and the boss constantly said we’ll hire more to help and never did. The second i leave, he hires 5 new people to address overworked schedules, and promoted 3 people , gave raises galore, and I clearly left at the wrong time. Or I shook him up so bad that he took my exit interview seriously, he practically said I destroyed his view that he thought he was a good boss. Now the place is everything we always wanted it to be, and I am regretting my decision.

        1. fposte*

          It sounds like you really don’t want your old job; you want a new job at the old place, doing all the things you hoped you were going to do and at the pay you hoped you’d get. And that’s a reasonable argument to make for why you’d stay and a good way to make sure you’re on the same page. “I’ve loved this workplace, but I left because I wanted X in responsibilities and 30k more in salary and management wasn’t prepared to give it to me here. You’ve gone through changes that indicate I would be coming back to a different view of the position that would give me what I left for.”

          But for heaven’s sake, if these things matter to you, get ’em hammered out in negotiations and in some fixed communication before you accept; don’t “go back to the old job” and assume that the workplace changes would be enough to make it the new job you want. The place being everything you want it to be isn’t going to help you if you’re stuck with the same problems.

          1. fposte*

            P.S. If I were them, I probably wouldn’t hire you if it was only for a year or two (though it might depend on the industry and how much of a rainmaker you are), so you might want to consider whether you’re in a field where it’ll hurt you if they see you as “bailing again” if you leave in a year.

            1. Anonymous*

              Agree. I wouldnt recommend, I speak from experience. Once back theres this horrible deja vu, which is not always nice even if things have changed.
              So, dont! The fact that your boss doubts your commitment is reason enough. And the relationship is rather screwed now for you think of it

  21. Anonymous*

    Has anyone else had problems seeing AAM in their Facebook newsfeed? I can see her status updates, but I never see the links to new posts. Of course, the only people who saw her test post on Facebook are the ones with no problems – so I am asking here! Has anyone else noticed this? Luckily I am an addict and check the website all the time. :-)

      1. Suz*

        No, that’s me! I figured this is the best way to find others like me. Then again, maybe I AM the purple unicorn!

        1. Nichole*

          It’s not just you, I get the same thing. It’s pretty sporadic for me to see links to new posts via FB. I just assumed it was one of those weird things FB does to make things “easier” (i.e. magically deducing what we do and don’t want to see without giving us a chance to see and make that decision ourselves without jumping through ridiculous hoops).

    1. Indie_Rachael*

      Is this related to the new updates, perhaps? For whatever reason, fb has your default subscription set so that any page you like only has some posts show in your newsfeed. You have to go to each page you like…and then I believe you click the “like” button for a drop-down list where you can choose to see all posts.

      Fb doesn’t believe you truly like a page unless you’re willing to put forth a little extra effort, apparently.

        1. Indie_Rachael*

          Fb has also used something like a scoring system for quite some time to determine post visibility. Anything posted via some short of app, as opposed to going to fb and typing in a status or link, automatically gets waaaaaaay less visibility than if you actually do it on fb.

          Combine that with your newsfeed being very busy or even very quiet, and fb decides for you — even if you choose to short chronologically — whether you ought to see a given page posting.

    2. mh_76*

      Another trick is if you look at the top-right of your news feed, the word “sort” appears in light gray. If you click on it, you can choose to view your post in the FB-random-non-order or in chrono. order. I don’t know if it will solve your problem but it’s worth a shot.

  22. JT*

    Here’s a question.

    I got a call for a reference about an intern from a number of years ago. I had a bunch of interns over the years and the greats one (and rare terrible ones) stick in my mind. This was for one that was solid, but not great enough that I could remember details off the top of my head with no preparation. Turns out that the reference checker was just looking for dates, position title, etc. which I was able to provide right away.

    But if she’d wanted more detail, would it have been bad for me to suggest we talk later the same day. I want to be supportive of my good interns, but frankly don’t always remember them without a little prep on my side.

    1. Victoria*

      Totally fine to schedule another time to talk. You needn’t mention that you have to do some research to remember who they’re asking about – it’s totally normal to not be able to have a conversation at the very second they happened to call.

      … but those interns should be giving you a heads up that someone might be contacting you.

    2. AKG*

      Question about that: I know AAM mentions to give your references a heads up, but what if these checkers randomly call a previous manager of yours that was on your resume but not on your reference list? I don’t think it would be fair to say that we didn’t give them a heads up, right?

      1. Anonymous*

        Question to your question :) :
        Maybe I misread, but do you mean to say that people put down their managers’ names on their resume?

        1. Lexy*

          I think AKG means that the job is on your resume and the reference checker just calls all your previous jobs (or some of them) without you saying who to contact. As Alison does.

          1. Anonymous*

            OK that makes sense. I just thought it was a little strange that they were able to reach the person’s actual manager (as opposed to an HR person). Unless the OP was an HR manager, of course.

            1. mh_76*

              On some applications (vs. resumes), there are lines for references and the agencies / potential employers prefer that those be given out up-front. Years ago, I did that and then I started offering to email the information instead but now I say that I’ll provide references if an in-person interview is scheduled with a hiring manager (the recuriter-meeting doesn’t count as an interview in my mind…yeah, that’s debatable but ’tis a debate for another comment string).

      2. Ariancita*

        This is a question that I’ve asked and have never gotten a response to. It’s considered rude and unprofessional to not give the reference a head’s up (or ask permission). Yet some reference checkers will check previous employers not listed in your references. Those previous employers might be miffed that the candidate did not talk to them first since they assume the candidate added them as a reference. And then a potentially already strained past relationship becomes more strained. And the reference given is even worse than what would have been given because the old employer is annoyed. Can checks of non listed references, while understandable from the potential employers’ point of view, actually reflect badly on the professionalism of the candidate and cause problems (hurt the candidate’s professional reputation)?

        1. Alisha*

          One of my reports at my old job e-mailed me and said, “I’m using you as a reference. Hope that’s okay.”

          We had to have a discussion about reference etiquette, but now, when she wants a reference, she tells me first, and I’ve given her a couple good ones.

        2. Alisha*

          Sorry for my un-helpful comment there. On re-read, I see you’re saying that an unsolicited reference check that’s beyond the candidate’s control could hurt the candidate. That’s an interesting conundrum, and one I have felt concerned about as well, since I left one job on bad terms, and always use my first of two bosses there as my reference. The boss who supervised me for the latter part of my tenure there, and who still heads my old department, was a volatile personality who took great pride in encouraging a toxic work environment, and I left halfway through my notice period when he called me on my morning off to verbally abuse me.

          Through my network, I’ve been advised that he thinks highly of my work, but I don’t know how he thinks of me as a person. Not well, I’d suspect. I’ve also been advised that he’s dealing with horrific turnover rates in his department, and refuses to accept that his personality contributes to it. I’d love to omit the job, but now, having been out of work past the six-month mark, I can’t afford the resume gap.

  23. Sophie*

    Yay open thread! Hope you have a great holiday, Alison! :)

    Here is my question…I am about to ask for a raise/promotion. I am terrified to do this. Reasons for my fear are 1)I have never asked for a raise before 2) I don’t like discussing things with my manager 3) I don’t trust my manager to take my request seriously or talk to our director about it. So my question is…what suggestions do you all have to get a handle on my fear? I have read Alison’s wonderful advice about preparing for the discussion, and I have done just that, and rehearsed with family, etc., but I am still afraid, mostly because my direct supervisor can change his mood from super friendly to super scary in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. He is generally very positive with me and has given me two excellent performance reviews, but I am so hesitant to talk with him about anything because he is untrustworthy and gets confused easily. If I was closer and more open with him I wouldn’t feel so afraid, but he generally leaves me alone and we don’t talk much. I keep in informed about my work, but I don’t come to him about hardly anything outside of project statuses or nasty customers. I appreciate everyone’s advice!

    1. fposte*

      I feel like there’s a middle bit missing there, and that’s the consequences of these things, because that what you’re really afraid of, right? That you’ll look stupid or he’ll get angry, that kind of thing? So: remember that he’s not doing you a favor–this is his job. Remember that if he does get angry that doesn’t mean you did something you shouldn’t have or are a problem–it just means he’s bad at this, so it’s not a comment on you as a person or an employee. Remember that this doesn’t have to be a meeting of adversaries, and that you can and should ask for some guidance in attaining your goal if you can’t get it now. And If you’re practicing, make sure you’re practicing your acceptance of the answer in either direction and the close of the conversation, so that you can tie things up professionally.

      I also feel like you’re somewhat treating lack of contact with your manager as a mark of high performance, and I’d encourage you to reconsider that. A good manager does not consider the pinnacle of employee success to be never talking to the manager.

      1. Regular Poster, Anonymous For Now*

        I think you can approach the situation from the perspective of “what’s the worst that could happen?” After all, if you request a meeting for a raise, and:

        • are well-prepared with examples of how you’ve helped the company this year, added valuable skills, and gone above and beyond the call of duty many times, and
        • state your request in a confident voice (even if you’re shaking inside),

        you have done EVERYTHING right. And if you’re turned down, it may help to consider that it could be because of factors beyond your control. For example, the budget may have fallen short this year, or your boss may be concerned about losing a major revenue source next year. Regardless, if it doesn’t work out how you want it to, you always have the option to start looking around.

        1. Regular Poster, Anonymous For Now*

          @fposte: A good manager does not consider the pinnacle of employee success to be never talking to the manager.

          I agree. Unfortunately, as we discuss often on here, not all managers are good managers – and as I’ve learned over the past 10+ years, even pretty decent managers have their weak points. Lord knows I do – a couple I could name off the top of my head come to mind, as tired as I am right now.

          And like me, my last boss had some good points and a few bad points. Though I respect him quite a bit for his history and innovation in my industry, and am endlessly appreciative of how he took my career to the next level by giving me lots of great projects and a level of management authority beyond what I’d held at two previous supervisory jobs, he didn’t support his high performers like he could have, and that was a shame. Specifically, he didn’t make time for project meetings or even brief progress chats with his high-performing department managers. Further, when we came to him for check-ins, feedback, or questions, he waved us away, unless we were having a MAJOR issue (like when I needed to fire one of my direct reports, who shit the bed intentionally and with great flair on an important project), so we all eventually left. (We seldom got praised either, except at our yearly reviews, but that wasn’t a problem for me anywhere near as much as the lack of contact was.)

          He paid the most attention to his low performers and some attention to the folks in the middle, and that led to mixed results. Most of the high performers, self included, have left. A handful of the low performers have been fired, as he recently told me when I shot the shit with him, since his budget no longer allows him to keep them on board. A few of the middle performers have improved, though most have stayed middle performers. It’s not a management technique I endorse, but it’s a common enough one that I’m not at all surprised when I hear about it. (Not saying it’s the case for the OP either, but it could be.)

          1. A Teacher*

            I had a supervisor that did this when I worked in the corporate sector, not as a teacher but in a different field. She could be really nice but if you came to her with any concerns that would be considered major by most normal humans because they were outside your control, she’d want to turn it into a reflection exercise on how it was your fault.

            She always wanted to “fix” the low performers and the top performers, if they had one off month should would get really nasty with. She also had a weird thing about education, like if you had more than her it was a threat to her own success and she let those she supervised know it.

            The final straw came when it was yearly review time and the “company changed their performance measures” we all went down in percentages–which impacted bonuses and raises (i.e. in 3 1/2 years with the company I was always between 92-96% and at the 4th quarter review had been at 94%. Within 2 weeks, at the yearly I was at 88% the second highest in my department. When I asked for feedback/clarification to see what I needed to do to get my numbers back up, the reply was “we don’t really know, we just made it harder to challenge you.”

            This is the same company where the employees hadn’t had a raise in 2 years despite record profits and huge growth where even middle supervisors got raises. The supervisor is still there but the department and company’s turnover rate is really high and in that field not respected among the professionals in it.

            1. Regular Poster, Anonymous For Now*

              My boss wasn’t quite that bad, but he did have a habit of providing useless feedback to high performers. I remember one yearly review in particular, he marked me “excellent” in all areas and glossed over that in less than ten minutes. We negotiated my raise in, literally, two minutes. Then, he spent the rest of the half-hour taking me to task for an extremely minor verbal faux pas I’d made the month prior to the review, when I’d been working a long stretch of days with hellish overtime. I guess he picked that because it was the only “bad” thing I did that he could remember. I came away from that review confused as hell, like “Okay, what can I do better next year, other than be verbally perfect at all times [which is not realistic]…I have no idea!”

              We wound up observing each other and giving each other improvement feedback, because we sure as hell weren’t getting it from the boss. One person, who’d been there a bit longer than I had when I started, no longer even got yearly reviews when I left! The boss stopped bothering because he never saw this person’s work.

          2. fposte*

            Yeah, that’s absolutely true, and people are obviously going to have to take their own managers’ weaknesses into consideration. However, I think it’s not uncommon for employees to feel in general that it’s their goal never to “bother” their manager, and I thought I felt a bit of that vibe from Sophie, so I figured I’d make the point just in case.

  24. Blinx*

    Question about gaps in employment history….

    I know that gaps are looked down upon, but I’m not sure why. After several decades of solid employment, I now find myself with a gap of over 6 months, and counting. I lost my job in December, along with thousands of others at my company.

    What can I do to counteract this bias? Should I address it in the cover letter? Interview? Ignore it?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’m not an expert like AAM, but when I’ve asked about this, and from what I’ve read, showing you did something like improved or gained new skills, volunteered, or did temp work of some kind (just to cite a few examples) lets them know you weren’t just sitting on the couch the whole time. I have a year of temp work on my resume from last time I was unemployed, and I’ve never been asked about it. It just looked like I was working, which I was.

      I’ve been out of work for five months now, and still haven’t found anything. Pretty soon I’m going to have to start temping again, which I hate because it’s not steady. Grrr.

    2. Janet*

      I don’t think gaps are terrible as long as they can be easily explained – and as long as you are keeping your skills current. I have one 3 month gap and one 6 month gap – both for relocations. Geographically it makes sense on my resume (one job in one state – the next months later in another) so I haven’t had to explain it too much.

      My husband had a very long period of unemployment (about a year and a half) and fortunately due to his industry (design) he was able to do freelancing on a semi-regular basis during that time and was able to keep everything current.

      Is there a way for you

  25. Lindsay H.*

    Happy Early 4th, Everyone!!

    Here’s my question:

    (Not So Brief) Summary of the situation:
    I found a long-term temporary payroll position starting June 1st. Even though it’s temp, the position I’m in will last at least 3-5 months. There is a very strong possibility I would be hired on. Overall the company has been fantastic to me. They have been very diligent to ensure I have been trained and set up for success. I have been welcomed with open arms and included on every employee relations event, even though I’m not an official employee of the company. My manager told me she would go to bat for me to have me hired on if the union comes back from their strike (an even longer story).

    The monkey wrench is I interviewed for an HR/Trainer position last Friday. I had basically applied because a family friend passed along my name to the company. I didn’t expect it to be something I would want. However, I got a really good vibe from the new company in terms of the culture, and the position is more along the lines of what I want to accomplish career-wise. The position is a bit up in the air because the HR Manager is unsure if it will be one position or two, so a decision won’t be made super-quick.

    (Yes, I know a job offer is never an offer unless it’s offered . . . in writing. :) I may be jumping the gun to even be worried!)

    My question:
    If I am lucky enough to be offered the position, is it jerky to leave the position I’m in only a month in?

    1. fposte*

      Somebody more familiar with your situation might chime in, I hope, but I’d be leaning toward taking the offer. You’re a temporary employee, they’ll need to buck the union to hire you permanently–does this mean that you’d be working alongside of the people whose jobs you were filling in for? That makes me go “Yikes.” And it sounds like you might actually prefer the job you’re hoping for an offer from, since your concerns are all about leaving and not about missing the opportunity there.

      So I’d say the temp factor means departure is acceptable–you don’t know if they can offer you a real position and you don’t seem as interested in the possibility even if they do. Negotiate a long transfer time if you can, but I don’t think a workplace can reasonably expect people they’re not actually permanently committed to to pass on the opportunity for a permanent commitment.

      Short version: Temps leave. Go.

      1. Anonymous*

        I agree with fposte. Especially if it is a temp position and the new job is one that can offer you security you would be doing yourself a disservice to turn down that offer. You would be kicking yourself if three months down the road your temp job runs out and your unemployed with few prospects. Also, my feeling is that firms understand that temps need to be looking for secure work and should hold no hard feelings about one leaving early.

    2. Ali_R*

      The thing that jumps out to me the most here is the return of the striking workers. The office you know now may not even be close to representative of what it will be like when the striking workers return.

      A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. All things being equal (pay, atmosphere, benefits, etc.), the permanent job is preferable by far! Good luck to you, I hope you get a permanent position.

      As a temp, it is completely understandable to leave your temp position for a permanent one. Your manager will understand.

    3. ncd*

      I’ve worked as a temp before, and I’ve always felt that it’s understood that you’re also looking for full-time work and will leave if you find a job. No temp employer has ever faulted me for doing so, and all have wished me luck and been sincerely happy for me. So go for it!

    4. mh_76*

      If you’re offered the “permanent” job, take it. I agree that with ncd that it is (generally) understoodd that most temp/contract workers are still looking for “permanent” work. I have had a number of contract/temp positions and have never had a boss imply that my job search was over simply because I had accepted a temp/contract job. I have paused the search a couple of times and it is currently mostly on summer vacation right now but it’s never been a secret that the ultimate goal of the search is a W2/benefits/”permanent” job.

      As for how to handle your departure if you do get the offer, thank your current manager and let her know in writing (email counts) how appreciative you are that she and the company were so good to you, that you learned ___ and gained ___ professional skills/savvy/etc. Also let her know that [it sounds like] you’d love to work for/with them again in the future but have to move to the new position because of X, Y, Z, [reasons]. Keep the door open for her to keep in touch (hopefully she will but people aren’t as good about keeping in touch nowadays so don’t take it personally if she and you lose touch).

      I use quotes because in truth, no job is actually permanent and all jobs come to an end sometime, whether it be the employer’s decision, the employee’s decision, or nature’s decision. I’ve been reading article after article about the increasing shift towards contract labor as opposed to staff labor.

      Happy 4th to those in the US and Happy Day to everyone.

      1. mh_76*

        One more thing: the time given for a temp/contract’s job is often an estimate — I’ve had one t/c job that was supposed to last 2 months end after 2 weeks; one t/c job was extended for another 6? weeks; another was extended for a week; one just ran on and on and finally (thankfully) came to an end; one place called me back for 2 more t/c jobs, hired me as staff but…um, that didn’t work out because of a pair of the meanest people I’ve ever met; current job is a 1099 indepent contract (others were W2 thru agencies) and, well, who knows, who knows…. …. Right now, I need sleep.

        1. Alisha*

          I’ve only worked one contract job, which is pretty much a temp job with more lenient rules. Like, I could come and go as I pleased, but the temps had to clock in and out at a certain time, etc. My experience was that everyone acted super-encouraging with me for the first couple months of the contract. Then, once we found out there was no place to hire me on full-time in the department, people started getting cold. I found a new job at a great company about two weeks before my contract job was up, so I just went to my boss and pushed up the ending date. He was a little sore about it and kept emphasizing that I better leave my badge [!], but he’s since given me glowing recommendations, so I think the gruffness was borne of the inconvenience of me leaving early.

          My husband temped more recently, and they made it clear from the start that he would be gone when the contract was up. They also tried to frame his contract ending as a resignation and deny him unemployment. Some temp agencies try this, so document your departure if you’re leaving and it’s not by your choice. He won, but wouldn’t have if he didn’t document!

          Long story short: I would go with the permanent job, regardless of whether you get the offer next week, in one month, or in three months down the line. Some temps do get hired on full time, true. But unless you’re going through a staffing agency and in one of those deals where you’re going to go perm unless you do something truly awful like poop on the boss’s desk, you should assume the worst-case scenario and always be searching while you finish out your temp assignment.

          1. Alisha*

            Sorry, that should be FOUR months before my ending date…I still gave two-week notice.

    5. littlemoose*

      Fposte’s answer is spot-on (as always). You’re a temp, and your employer must know that you’re looking for permanent employment. I’ve temped in the past too, and while the situation didn’t arise, I know they would have understood if I’d departed for a permanent position. It’s a great idea to frame the departure professionally and keep that bridge intact as well, as mh_76 advised.

  26. Anonymous*

    I personally would not leave at position after only one month. There are two schools of thought here I think. The first, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. The second, Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. I would go with the one that offered me a firm job offer. I would also make sure I only applied for a job I really wanted. It sounds like the first place really is trying to make things good for you. For me, I would appreciate that so much.

  27. Just Me*

    The current job is a temp job and you have indicated that it is at least 3-5 months? Even if the manager is going to go to bat for you it is no guarantee of getting the job as a perm employee.

    You can stay in that job as a temp for a year and still have no clue what will happen. You being a temp offers the company an incentive not to hire you as they don’t have to pay benefits, etc.

    Go for the permanent job if you get an offer and you like what it has to offer.

    In my opinion your obligation to the temp job is minimal as it relates to staying there. Of course you need to get to work on time, do the job well and all that but it is still not a for sure.

    1. Liz*

      Yeah – this and Fposte above are exactly what I was going to type. Managers say a LOT of things to temps to keep them motivated, but there are no guarantees. They could tell you to leave tomorrow, even if you do a great job and they like you.

      You’re a temp because they don’t know their future staffing needs. That means your employment is dependent on things even your manager can’t control or foresee.

      1. Lindsay H.*

        Thank you all for the great advice! It’s nice to have peace of mind that leaving truly would be the sound career choice no matter how guilty I would feel about it. Plus, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m in a situation that was mentioned: “We’ll tell you nice things now so you won’t bolt immediately so we can demoralize you down the road!”

        I appreciate the advice! Have a Happy and Safe 4th, Everyone!

  28. Help with Job Hopping Reputation*

    I’d like to get some suggestions on how to avoid getting a job hopping reputation (and how to explain several hops over the last few years). I was in my first job out of college for over six years and advanced significantly during this time. However, since the beginning of the Great Recession I am now on my third survival job. These jobs have lasted between 1 and 2 years. I have reasonably good reasons for leaving two of these jobs (finishing grad school and relocating) but I am now a year into my third survival job with the Boss From Hell and am very eager to leave.

    Does anyone find that employers are being a bit more understanding these days about job hopping in light of the recent recession? Or do the old guidelines of at least 3 to 5 years per job still apply?

    I’d leave this job tomorrow if I could, but I don’t want to do something rash that limits my future opportunities with better organizations.

    1. Elizabeth*

      What do you mean by “survival job”? Is it in your field but the boss situation is awful, or is it an out-of-your-field way-to-pay-bills kind of job? (E.g. you want to be in publishing but right now you’re demonstrating chocolate teapots in Williams & Sonoma.) Leaving the second kind of job seems more obviously excusable, since you can honestly say, “I have really been wanting to be do more X and Y as that is my passion.”

      In either case, I would say it couldn’t hurt to try job-hunting, but I wouldn’t leave the current job until I had a truly better one in hand – not just a step up from awful, but somewhere that you do really feel like you’d like to stay for years. You don’t want to find yourself in this same situation next summer.

    2. Kristi*

      I’ve come to believe that the old guidelines don’t apply as much as they once did for a number of reasons including what you’ve already experienced. After staying in various jobs 3-5 years, I now plan on 1-2 years unless I’m extremely satisfied with the job. Change is extremely satisfying plus I think its often easier to move up the in the ranks with a new job/company. (I’m almost kicking myself for not moving sooner from certain positions but its done now.) Plus as I’m researching various companies on LinkedIn, I see soooo many professional profiles where s/he has worked at various companies 1-2 and maybe 3 years. To me it just reads as someone steadily progressing in professional experience and responsibility.

      If you’re miserable at your current job, by all means start looking around.

      1. Alisha*

        In my industry, people in their 30s and 40s change jobs every 2-3 years or less and no one bats an eye. I’m not suggesting it as a universal strategy, but I do think it’s not stigmatized like it used to be. Everyone knows that companies don’t hire people for 45 years and send them off to retirement with a pension and a gold watch, and just as companies are prioritizing their bottom line nowadays, the employees are prioritizing theirs.

    3. just another hiring manager...*

      As a hiring manager, I don’t consider a bunch of 1-2 year stints as job hopping. I’d be much more concerned with a bunch of less than a year, career-related positions.

      1. Piper*

        I think there are exceptions to this, too, even. For example, I was at a job for 8 months before getting laid off, the next job was a contract job that I left after a year to relocate to a different state.

        I’m not sure how long I’ll stay at my current job, which is another open-ended, long-term contract position where the company is allowed to hire me on permanently after 6 months, but that doesn’t mean they can or will, and where the contract doesn’t end at that point, either. However, if I end up being here for 6 months to a year and haven’t been hired permanently, I’ll be moving on to something permanent. And that will leave me with three short-term career positions right in a row.

        For the record, I was at the two jobs prior to these three for 4 years and 2 years.

  29. Anonymous*

    What are opinions regarding interview dress for females when it comes to designer handbags, watches, shoes, etc? Especially for a female just entering the workforce from college. I have seen and read several posts/topics/questions regarding traditional interview attire, however I have not seen this question addressed.

    I am a recent college grad and have been very blessed when it comes to being able to afford very nice jewelry, handbags, etc. However, I am in no way pretentious-most of these items have been gifts.

    In all interviews I will wear a watch and a very sentimental ring, and carry a very nice handbag, but I am from the South and I know that many employers/hiring managers know the designers of these pieces just by looking at them as they are very traditional and notable. I do not want them to make judgements on me based on these pieces before they interview me, however, I also do not want to have to “be someone I am not” by not wearing any jewelry. By the way, I have had comments made that “I do not need the money” and that “It doesn’t seem as if I am struggling,” so I also struggle with what to say in these situations.

    Thank you so much for yall’s help/opinions in advance!

    1. Elizabeth*

      I don’t interview/hire people, and I’m not very good at recognizing designer things, so take this with a grain of salt – but in my opinion as long as the ring/watch/handbag are understated and simple it doesn’t seem like that should have an effect. Good interviewers are interested in what you say and what experience you have; what you’re wearing only matters as long as you’re not so “out there” as to demonstrate a lack of understanding of social norms.

      If you think you’re getting judged negatively by your handbag or jewelry, though, then why not just leave it off for interviews? You are more than the accessories you wear. Carrying a different purse would not make you “be someone you’re not.” Affecting a different persona would.

      As to people who comment, unsolicited, on your financial situation: They are being rude. Miss Manners would have a perfect reply for them… unfortunately, I don’t. I would probably say something like, “My finances are my personal business, thanks. Can I tell you more about my experience rescuing orphaned wombats?” (or otherwise change the topic to show that the matter’s not up for discussion)

    2. Janet*

      I think it depends on what you mean by “nice” – I have a friend who freaks out about this sort of thing and wouldn’t bring a Kate Spade purse to an interview whereas I don’t think I’d notice or care. I think she likes to find reasons why people are rejecting her that aren’t about her experience or interview skills.

      However – at the same time I did work with a girl who was extremely wealthy and had Birkin bag and Chanel shoes and it was the topic of conversation at times like “Why is she working HERE if she doesn’t need the money.”

      So I guess – within reason? I don’t think anyone would notice a purse that wasn’t blatantly MONEY (like a Coach or a Spade) but I think “unoffensive” is the best way to go and I think that the best way to make sure you’re not offending anyone is to avoid big splashy brands. You want people to notice your experience and your professionalism, not make judgements about your wealth wondering if your Chanel shoes are real or knock-offs.

    3. Kristi*

      Professional attire is exactly that, and expected at interviews. It doesn’t sound like you’re overdoing it which is what you want to avoid. You’re probably to young for this but I’m thinking of Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl.” All that jewelry and big hair. (It was the 80s.)

    4. KayDay*

      If people are consistently noticing your accessories, it’s too much. You should look your most conservative at an interview, so minimal and not-too-flashy jewelry is appropriate. I also would avoid any signature/logo patterns, be it Coach or Chanel. Beyond that, it depends quite a bit on your industry and the local environment–PR and sales, for example, generally is more favorable to “high-fashion” than contracts.

      If people make those types of comments to you (which I find really rude) just tell them the nice thing was a gift.

      1. Kristi*

        Re: the comments, “By the way, I have had comments made that “I do not need the money” and that “It doesn’t seem as if I am struggling,” so I also struggle with what to say in these situations.” I’m assuming these comments weren’t made in actual interviews but by someone else to the OP. So we don’t know that any prospective employers have actually made any negative comments. A lot of worrying over something that hasn’t happened. Don’t over think this and be yourself.

    5. Blinx*

      I’m torn. On the one hand, you don’t want to go overboard and scream opulence. You can wear very fine clothes and accessories that are understated and don’t detract from your overall appearance. Less is more when it comes to jewelry.

      On the other hand, they can work as ice breakers/conversations starters. I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve gotten on a pretty ring and a cute bag that I always wore, and the items were complete fakes! They weren’t designed to deceive – I just liked how they looked.

      Plus, how would the interviewer know that the items were yours, and not borrowed?

      1. Alisha*

        As someone who has an enormous designer clothing collection full of pieces that were purchased for under $100 apiece, and often, under $50 apiece (consignment and estate sales, woot!), I wanted to mention that no one has ever noticed my clothing other than to compliment it. That said, my style is pretty understated (at work that is – in my off time, with my FEAR shirt and Dead Kennedys jacket, you can kind of tell that I used to have a purple Mohawk), and I don’t own anything with a logo or brand pattern visible. If the OP can stick to designer ware that’s logo- and pattern-free, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.

        Finally, FWIW, I live in a city that prides itself on being working class and where people bristle the moment they think you’re putting on airs or being snooty in any way, so I have wondered the same thing the OP has about designer clothing However, it has never been an issue for me on the job. (And who’s to say you didn’t get it consignment if it does become an issue, right?)

    6. Student*

      The standard advice is to not wear very expensive jewelry and take expensive designer gear (like purses) to a job interview. If you happen to have a higher end suit, that’s one thing (as long as it’s not going to draw attention away from you as a candidate – it shouldn’t glitter or blind anyone with bright colors, for example).

      The reason for this is, women are still not at parity in the job market. That’s the hard truth. You want people to view you as a serious job candidate, and not some rich lady taking on a paid hobby. It’s not fair, but it is the way the world works. No one will care if you got them as gifts or bought them yourself – some might view the gifts as a worse sign.

      Once you have the job, then wear your jewelry. For the interview day, take the bling off. Limit yourself to one nice item that isn’t easy to price – a favorite pair of earrings, a ring. Or wear a nice watch – watches tend to get a pass as jewelry because men wear them too. View it as if you were wearing a costume for the day – the vast majority of people don’t dress for an interview the way they’d dress on the job, so for most of us interview days are costume days.

      As an aside, I’d strongly encourage you to limit the net value of jewelry/designer hand bags that you bring to work on any given day, simply for practical reasons of not getting robbed. Even nice offices and lovely neighborhoods have thieves and opportunists.

      If people comment, it’s just a bad match, and there’s not a good retort. Draw attention away from the bling if it’s possible – compliment the other person’s watch or attire instead of responding to their exact critique. Or emphasize how interested you are in the position. It’s not right or well-mannered of anyone to make a snide comment about your wealth, but that’s another reality of the working world.

      1. Alisha*

        Well-said, Student. I think that designer interview clothing generally escapes notice, unless it’s, say, the pink Chanel suit that was first immortalized by Jackie O and later parodied by Marge Simpson. However, watches, purses, etc. can have a signature style or logo that is difficult not to notice. The OP should use her best judgment.

        I agree, also, about women not being at parity in the workforce. In my male-dominated industry, this is particularly an issue. And finally, the argument against bringing expensive accessories to work is spot-on. The police have observed, in my city, that theft rates actually increase dramatically as the neighborhood gets more upscale, even though assault, arson, and worse crimes go way down.

    7. Ivy*

      I’m going to attack this from another perspective… Do you feel comfortable wearing your designer brands to an interview? Or are you worrying about what the interviewer might think? There are going to be a lot of people who don’t care or notice the designers your wearing, but there may be a few who do notice and do care. I feel like you shouldn’t wear the designers (or at least only wear a few) to interviews simply because you are asking this question. You want to wear things that make you look professional, but that you’re comfortable and confident in. You won’t preform as well at interviews if your worrying that the interviewer keeps staring at your expensive bag.

  30. KayDay*

    One technical question: I just noticed that iGoogle will be ending next year, because apparently I am the only one who uses it. I use my igoogle page as my RSS reader, and mostly get updates from news sites. Does anyone have a suggestion for a new and easy to use reader-thingie?

      1. Laurie*

        Google Reader! And if you prefer a Mac desktop app or an iPhone app, Reeder (reederapp dotcom).

    1. Laura L*

      Ha! Actually, there are two of us! I’m really sad about that too. I use it for chatting and to see what the weather is.

      I do use Google Reader for blogs, though, and I’d recommend it. There are other feedreaders out there that I’m sure are good, but this way you don’t have to create a new account.

    2. Kelly O*

      I use both iGoogle as my home page, and Google Reader for my blog reading. The only bad thing about Google Reader is you can only share on Google – no Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn compatibility is built in. That’s a fairly recent change too.

      I am super-bummed about the end of iGoogle, because I’ve used it fairly religiously for years now, but I guess it’s just time to move on.

  31. Wanderlust*

    Hi All
    I want to know how long periods of “travelling” affect future job prospects? I have been in my current job for a year, gained lots of good experience and now I really want to travel, try different things. I’m wondering about looking like a bum though on my CV.

    1. Anon.*

      I did it and it worked out okay. If you can put in some interesting volunteer experience while abroad (which is a great way to see other places from a different perspective anyways) that might help you cover the gap on the resume and have more to talk about in interviews upon your return (that’s what I did). Try to find some experiences in line with what you’d like to do when you return, or just things that you are passionate about, and might not otherewise have a chance to do. You can still travel before, after, and even during overseas volunteer assignments, depending on what you sign up for. Life is short – enjoy!

    2. Blinx*

      Go for it, and don’t look back! There are few times in your life when you will have the opportunity, time, money, and freedom to really travel. Most interviewers would probably be a little envious!

      I knew a girl in her 20s who sold all her furniture, gave up her apartment, and traveled the world for almost a year. THEN she came back, picked up where her career left off, got married, had a few kids. I don’t think she had any regrets, but lots of memories and experiences to look back on.

      1. Alisha*

        Many of my peers have “travel” down for some or all of the period between 2000 and 2002, when they lost their jobs after the tech bubble popped. They’re all happily employed at great companies, and I, with no resume gaps before this current one, am not. Take that as you will. People know how rough it is out there, and I actually saw an article about job searching (Alison was quoted and sounded awesome as always, Penelope Trunk was quoted and didn’t even start drama once [!!!], etc.) where one person said “Go travel. If you can’t find a job, you won’t find one in a year.” Take that, also, as you will.

  32. Anonymous*

    Hi Team,
    Am currently 6 Months pregnant and looking to move from my current role to a more challenging position. I have done interviews with 3 different companies but I wasn’t showing at the time. I am now visibly showing and I am both shy and afraid of being discriminated due to my current state. Should i hold off this search untill after the baby comes? Am really hoping for a career change and I don’t think me being pregnant should work against me. What are your thoughts?

    1. Hugo*

      Wait until after you have the baby. Nobody would want to hire you knowing that you’ll possibly be taking maternity leave or at least some time off shortly after your hire date.

    2. Ivy*

      I would have to agree with Hugo. It is understandable that employers would be hesitant to hire you. I assume the reason they are hiring is because they have a position that needs to be filled. They probably don’t want to hire someone only to have to find another person to cover her while she’s gone on maternity leave. Even if you weren’t showing I still wouldn’t do it. Employers may hold a hidden grudge against you, if they hire you only to find out you’re pregnant and taking maternity. Is your current job so horrible that you can’t stay another 6 months? I think you would have lot more luck if you start your career change after you have had your baby.

    3. Student*

      I’d say you should keep applying, but to second-tier jobs instead of your favorite dream company. That way, you can keep trying to get something, and you might luck out. You might even run into someplace family-friendly this way, which might be a good career move for 2-3 years as you adjust to the new child. Job searches can take a long time, so I’m not sure the chance of being discriminated against outweighs your pressing need for employment – it depends on your financial situation.

      Once the baby comes, go back to applying to your top choices.

      As you search, make sure you’ve rehearsed an answer to all the obvious and rude questions you might get about your pregnancy. This will give you a buffer to not take other people’s stupidity personally and remain professional.

      1. Ivy*

        Ooo I didn’t even think about start time… If you’re applying for jobs now you might not even start until its time for you to leave. What with screenings, interviews, reference check, offer letters, etc..

    4. fposte*

      On the one hand, it’s illegal to discriminate against you in hiring; on the other, you won’t have been working long enough to be protected by FMLA or most states’ equivalents (and probably won’t have earned much if anything in the way of PTO) when you do need to take leave, which means that they could terminate you when you take time off to have the baby. Even if they don’t, that’s going to make for a rocky start. So I’d wait.

    5. KayDay*

      I would hold off, unless you decide to apply to a position where you know that the hiring process will take a really long time. My response would be different if you were unemployed, but you are just looking for a better job–just wait a few more months. You can keep networking, and “browsing” jobs, but I would hold off on actually applying.

      Also, as a woman, I am totally all for NOT discriminating against pregnant women (or non-pregnant women). That said, do you really want to move into a more channeling position 2-3 months before going out on maternity leave? That could be a major interruption to your learning curve for the job, it won’t exactly win you any favors with your team, and your going to be starting a more stressful job at the same time you have a major stress/time commitment at home.

      1. Kelly O*

        And don’t forget that having a baby literally changes everything – I was not in a challenging position at work after my daughter was born and I still found myself having to go back to my personal basics because my whole routine was different.

        Not to sound discouraging, just don’t discount the changes you cannot even begin to anticipate right now, because trust me, nothing will make you second guess the whole “working mom” thing like having to change clothes fifteen minutes after you should have been walking out the door because the baby decided to spit up/fill a diaper/sling a bottle and now you BOTH have to change before you can leave. Or you will have a child like mine who has the innate ability to know the moment I need to walk out the door and chooses that time to say “Mama, eww” and show you her newest mess.

        (Don’t get me wrong, I love her, we’ve adapted and things are so much better than they were, but it took a lot of time to get here. I’m glad my job was simple and close during those early months.)

    6. Malissa*

      Honestly You could still apply but with the caveat that you would start at the end of your maternity leave. But honestly that is so close at this point I’d just wait until it was closer. While you are on leave it will give you more time to squeeze in interviews anyway.

  33. Anonymous*

    For those who hire: How much does a candidate’s online presence influence your screening process? What kinds of sites are most important to you? Is a LinkedIn profile a must (even for someone working part-time)? What are red flags – other than the obvious (racy pictures, flakey Facebook posts, etc.)?


    1. Jen*

      I don’t hire per se, but I’m involved in getting my team replacements for the 2 people that left. We don’t specifically look for anything, but we will check LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs and the like. The only iffy thing I’ve found was a guy’s blog where he posted some misogynistic stuff… we interviewed him anyway, but he turned out to be a bad fit for the team.

  34. Just Me*

    Hello everyone…
    I have a question and need some assistance..
    I am desperately trying switch fields ( I currently do medical billing ) and into something like admin assistant.
    Most of my working exp is either customer service or medical billing.
    I can take my customer service exp and format that to admin assit on my resume as many of the tasks I have done can apply to admin work.
    But I am afraid the medical billing exp is stopping me from being looked at all. I think just seeing ” medical biller ” might put a kabash on even being looked at.

    I use my cover to say ” I am looking to use my skills that I acquired in experience in……” and then I match the job positing requirements to the actual tasks that I have done.

    What have people said on their resume/cover and in general to switch fields. It doesn’t matter what fields anyone has changed to just if I can get some basic tips on catching an eye of a recruiter despite having another field on resume that doesn’t relate.

    Thanks all !! Have a happy 4th.

    1. Ivy*

      I’ve never really switched career paths (other than from student and part-time retail to office job), so I don’t think I can give you great advice on that. I will say that a lot of admin positions require relativity strong written and oral communication skills (although it depends on the position). One thing I noticed is that this sentence, ” I am looking to use my skills that I acquired in experience in…” is very awkward. Is the rest of your cover letter written like this? It should be something like, “I am looking to use the skills I acquired while…” or “I am looking to apply the skills I acquired through my experience in the medical billing field (or whatever).”

      1. A Teacher*

        I went from full time athletic training to full time teaching. I still use my athletic training and I need it for my teaching job. It took me over a year to find a job, in part because most districts don’t like to hire teachers with multiple degrees.

        What I emphasized in my cover letter and on my resume were direct experiences that carried over to the field in which I was switching to. For example, as a medical billing specialist (or whatever your title is) I would guess you have to pay extreme attention to details. I would also guess that as an administrative assistant you would need the same skill. Yes, they are different but what similarities can you find between them. You also have to check facts as someone that bills, wouldn’t you have to do the same as an admin. asst.?

        From my experience: Look for similarities and high light those. Use some bridging between the two fields to cover the gaps on the resume itself.

      2. Just Me*

        No, my all around cover isn’t like that sentence. I was just giving a basic example of how I word it to bring in the connection of a new field and how my experience can tie in. It was not verbatim from my cover that I have been using.
        Thanks for your examples. They were good.

        1. Just Me*

          I have actually gotten 4 bites on covers that I have used in the last year.

          I am just always looking for other ideas to help enhance my cover. One little sentence can make a difference.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      There should be lots of transferable skills you can carry over. Make a list of things you did at your medical billing job, and then make a list of skills you’ll need to work as an admin. Things like communication, computer skills, etc. This article from might be helpful.
      I made a little spreadsheet of mine, and found that being a receptionist does give you a lot of transferable skills. Like your billing thing, however, it does tend to pigeonhole you, so I’ve been emphasizing them in cover letters, etc.

    3. Kelly O*

      I’m an administrative assistant, and have been for well over ten years now. Just a couple of thoughts based on your post and the resulting comments –

      – There are LOTS of people trying to find administrative support positions. I think people tend to think it’s easier or less stressful, or somehow it’s going to be better than whatever they’re doing now. The market is quite full, so be patient in your search. (I’ve been looking fairly actively for six months now and have only had a couple of serious bites, none of which have panned out.)

      – Yes, people look at your job titles, especially third-party recruiters/agencies, at least in my experience. I cannot tell you how many conversations I’ve had trying to explain that although my current title is Buyers’ Assistant, I’m not actually buying anything and am more of an assistant than anything else. Be prepared to explain both in writing and speech how your medical billing experience translates to the job you’re applying for in a clear and concise way.

      – I realize this is a more social media and is definitely more informal, but please go back and check the spelling and grammar on any document you’re using in your job search to be sure it’s perfect. Again, I know everything can’t be perfect, but so much of administrative support depends on keeping an eye to detail for both your own work and others’.

      – Don’t just parrot back the job description, and be mindful of how you are using those keywords. My husband thinks I’m wasting time, but I go through my resume for every job to which I apply and do a comparison – am I ever quoting word for word what is in their description, or am I making it unique to my personal experience and what I bring to the table as an individual?

      – Would you be interested at all in working in support for a medical office? It might be a good way to transition your knowledge of coding and billing practices with more directly administrative work. I’ve seen lots of positions at hospitals in particular that mention wanting someone with knowledge of coding language or billing practices. Your experience might make you more marketable there, and help give you more “administrative” skills so when you take the next step, you’ve made a move in the direction you want to wind up.

      – You may not get the “perfect” job the first time. I’m trying to transition to a more HR related role and am looking at administrative support that is heavier in HR – translating my existing skills into a different type of role so that the next step I take can be even more HR oriented. I know it might not happen now, and am okay with it taking another step (or more education or whatever) to get there, but I’m working with the size step I get. Crawl before you walk and what have you.

      And good luck!

  35. ChristineH*

    Happy 4th everyone!

    I’m really scared that my super-long period of unemployment will be the nail in the coffin. I was laid-off in June, 2008, and haven’t been able to find something permanent since. I did have two part-time contract gigs with my professional association in 2010 and have done a lot of scattered volunteering in an effort to gain experience in different functions. So that’s the plus side.

    The minus side is that I’ve been very picky about the type of jobs I look for, all for a combination of reasons. Biggest problems: 1) Can’t drive due to vision impairment, 2) absolutely terrified of getting into a supervisory role, and 3) hesitant to take on “survival” jobs or jobs I’m overqualified for out of fear of derailing my long-term career dreams.

    The AAM group on LinkedIn have been incredibly helpful and inspiring to me, but I wanted to ask you guys how I should frame my situation to interviewers and networking contacts. My original plan was direct social work, but have since become interested in eventually getting into program development/evaluation, either in disability services or social work education.

    So how do I start over? (aside from getting over myself LOL). I could start with direct social work or Information & Referral again, but I am so, so rusty since it’s been so long. Then, there’s admin jobs, but how would I get past the overqualified label?

    Sorry this is so long and rambling.

    1. Student*

      You do know that you don’t have to put every job you’ve ever had on a resume, right? If there’s a survival job that you can get, hop on it. If you think it’ll hold you back as you search for employment, then just leave it off the resume. If you gain useful career skills in the survival job, put it on the resume and emphasize the overlap areas. At least you might get a good recommendation at a survival job, and you won’t look like you’re untouchable. Your career is stalled right now, so it’d be mighty hard to do worse with any paying job.

      Try volunteer activities that overlap with your career. Try entry-level jobs, just to get back in the game. It may be something you’re overqualified for, but at least you’ll be back on track, gaining skills, and networking.

      The vision impairment isn’t really something you can change, so all I can suggest on that point is you should thoroughly research your transportation options, like public transit and any community assistance programs that might be available.

      For the fear of management, I’ll ask you this. What are you more afraid of: managing people, or retiring in poverty? Maybe it’s worth suffering through a management position for a year or two if you don’t have a big nest egg and loads of savings. Maybe management responsibilities would force you to grow as a person. Maybe not, but it’s something to think about.

  36. ChristineH*

    Also wanted to post a technical question: How are people able to bold and italicize in their comments? I don’t see any options for that.

    1. just another hiring manager...*

      For BOLD: type “” before and “
      For italics: type “” before and “
      For a block quote: type “” before and “”

      1. Anonymous*

        Try again…. the thing that looks like a pointy bracket to close it off. Then when you don’t want it bold, do the same again but put a / before the b. Same for italics, but replace the “b” with an “i”

          1. Anonymous*

            Oops, it deleted half my comment.
            1. one less than sign/pointy bracket
            2. b
            3. one more than sign.

            When you want to stop writing in bold, do the same again but put a / before the b.

      1. Ivy*

        Haha don’t worry mine did too!… I think it got a little out of control with all of us trying to explain… I’m thinking Alison deleted a few to make it look less spammish?

  37. Anon*

    I was just offered a position! yay! But when they initially asked salary requirements, I think I low-balled myself. Am I still able to negotiate salary, or is it to late?

    1. fposte*

      Unless something has changed in the job that you applied for, it’s really too late. Sorry.

    2. KayDay*

      It depends–where you just initially asked about salary requirements in general? Or did you really negotiate the salary already? You might be able to negotiate for a small increase, but not much. E.g. If you asked for low 40s and were offered 42K, you could probably negotiate for 43K or 44K, but not much more.

      On the other hand, if you said low 40s and they said high 30s and you went back and forth and eventually agreed on 40K, you have already negotiated your salary and are out of luck.

    3. AD*

      Do you mean they asked your requirements early in the process? If so, you can absolutely say “Now that I’ve learned more about the job, I think X would be fair”, or something of the sort.

    4. Anon*

      Thanks for the tips everyone! I meant that they asked my salary requirements early on in the process, but I hadn’t actually negotiated the salary once offered. I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask if the salary was negotiable (especially in reading some of the posts on here that so many hiring managers are shocked that people, especially women, accept the first offer that comes) and in so many words, was told “not really.” But it’s a great opportunity, and it’s not all about the money, so I accepted! I have learned my lesson for the future though: Not to be the first one to give a number, or if you have to, at least give a number that is some what higher than the minimum you would take.

      1. fposte*

        I’m glad you’re okay with the outcome. I apologize, though, because I misread your comment as being about the salary stated in the offer, which you’ve accepted; I would agree with the other commenters that an opening range doesn’t have that kind of commitment involved and gives more room for reopening of the discussion.

  38. Frustrated*

    Does anyone have any advice on dealing with a branch that are constantly defensive, barely civil to each other at the same branch, and completely and utterly rude to co-workers from other branches?

    I’m currently banging my head against a wall against a branch like this at the moment and I have no idea how to break through to them and help them with the issues rather than constantly be met with snippy remarks and unhelpful non-responses.

    1. Student*

      Depends on your actual position in all of this. If you’re a worker, then you should probably just focus on your own work and look for a job in a less-toxic environment.

      If you’re the boss, you’ll have to put your foot down hard. This is no way to treat people. Give them a disciplinary notice for the next infraction. Give them the boot if they aren’t making progress and there’s a second infraction. Try to give them coping techniques if they’re willing to improve. Frankly, if you have this toxic of an environment, you might need to turn over a lot of the staff to fix the attitude problem, but I wouldn’t start with that approach.

      If you’re a consultant, and you can’t get the boss to do what needs to be done to fix the problem, recommend that corporate replace the boss and get out of there ASAP.

      1. A Teacher*

        Kill them with kindness. It never hurts you to be nice, even when they’re mean/disrespectful/rude to you because in the end they look like the foolish ones for not cooperating. In our district there is a lot of hostility, similar to what you’re talking about–and I saw it in my corporate job-I also learned to document everything. When the supervisor I mentioned earlier would come to me and say “you didn’t do X.” I was able to reply well according to what we discussed on June 1, 20XX you wanted me to try Y first and then we were going to further discuss it. If you get the blatant rudeness from one person in a department a polite smile and something akin to a “wow” statement usually gets the point across with out being rude (thank you Carolyn Hax). I’ve seen my current principal do this with her supervisors and it works every time.

        The one thing I see on this thread that I don’t necessarily agree with is: “if you don’t like it, find a different job.” I see it often, why not try to quietly change the culture if you can? It is possible–speaking as someone that didn’t like the culture and left, my leaving did instigate some positive changes for my former co-workers.

    2. fposte*

      If you’re the manager, then I’m with Student–foot-down time, following a come-to-deity meeting where you make the point that you know people can do better and that they are now expected to. Try to find a way to recognize and reward the good behaviors without getting people labeled pets.

      And if you were one of those people, why do you think you’d be doing that, and what does it get you? Are they frustrated, underpaid, anxious, worried, overworked, underworked, responding to a charismatic model, defying a problematic leader? This is behavior that makes sense to them, which is why it won’t change on its own.

      If you’re not their manager, then you really don’t have the power to change a systemic problem. If you’re not too vulnerable, you can try taking the fun out of it for the person talking to you by killing them with kindness and ignoring any negative aspect of their conversation.

      1. Frustrated*

        “you can try taking the fun out of it for the person talking to you by killing them with kindness”

        I’ve been taking this approach for now and seemingly ignoring the barbs coming from them and just getting on with the job instead. In reality its grating on me since I’m doing extra work for no benefit (except my branch managers kudos) on their behalf.

        I’m not management, just someone drafted in to assist on certain matters from another branch. I can tell management they are being unhelpful and rude but that doesn’t help me solve the problems and finish the job. :(

        Yes, there are frustrations I’m aware of for them but I believe a lot of this comes from their attitudes and the time they spend sniping at each other to begin with!

        1. Malissa*

          I’d go with a straight forward approach. As in, “Listen I am here to accomplish X which will benefit you in this way. Even if you don’t like this the quicker I can get my work done the happier we all will be.”
          Work in a straight forward take no BS approach. Some times this is the only way to handle this kind of situation.

        2. fposte*

          Yeah, it can get pretty circular. But, then, we’re all generally our own worst enemies one way or another.

          It sucks to have the effect but not the power to require changes; I think that since this task sounds like a requirement, you have to find the best way that allows you to get through it and still respect yourself as somebody who behaves better than that. Remember that they’re stuck with being who they are while you can be you, think of the Charlie Brown’s teacher noise whenever they talk–find perspective where you can.

  39. Alisha*

    So I have a question. I posted about it in two parts in the other thread, as follows:

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Any ideas? To add further detail, I have tried networking via relevant seminars and networking events in my industry, and I found them to be dead ends, as they were attended by other unemployed and self-employed folks. I always exchanged biz cards and kept in touch with my fellow job-seekers, but we can’t offer one another much besides emotional support. After giving this some thought, I concluded that in a recession, this is totally understandable – if you’re already stressed to the max from work, the last thing you want to do, as a working person, is fill your free time with work-related events.

    In the end, I know that the plum jobs are being passed through networks of close friends, and a network of close friends is exactly what I don’t have. In better times, I got many of my previous jobs through a friend-of-a-friend myself, but personal circumstances forced me to cut back on socializing these past couple years, so this is not an option currently, and it will take me some time to re-build my social network. This time, I’ve gotten a few cold approaches from independent headhunters via LinkedIn and e-mail, but none of their offers proved to be a fit. All of my interviews thus far have come from two headhunters and one recruiter I’ve already developed a relationship with, or by applying to listed positions, and as many of you have found, this is not an ideal approach.

    1. Student*

      I had the same problem with not having a decent network. I’ve had good luck by applying to places where the hiring manager ALSO doesn’t have a good network. Usually, these are young hiring managers, or hiring managers who have recently moved (or are immigrants).

      You might not really be able to specifically seek out such people, but they’re out there and they’ll look at your cover letters instead of your lack of network connections.

      As for the rest of it, try to make sure you’re coming across as positive and upbeat when you do talk to people in your industry. It can be hard when you’re going through a long job search, but if you fake happiness and optimism you’ll be a lot more approachable as a job candidate. Find something to do in your free time that makes you happy, like some sort of volunteer work or a hobby to look forward to.

    2. Colette*

      Have you tried getting in touch with former colleagues to find out what they’re doing? LinkedIn makes it easier to do this. Of course, you can’t contact them after a year/five years to ask for a job – and that is the kind of e-mail/call I hate to get – but you can sincerely ask them what they’re doing, what the company they work for is like, etc. If you’re reaching out to people who you’ve worked well with in the past, and who respect your abilities/work effort, they will want to help – and talking about where they are, what skills they use/value, what their industry is like, etc. might open your eyes to other career paths you might not have considered otherwise.

      1. Alisha*

        @Student: I agree, it’s important to come across as upbeat. I definitely do that. I bring my bubbly personality to interviews and networking events. I even add it into notes. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to help. I am definitely dealing with clinical depression at this point, and am in therapy, but my doctor refuses to recognize job loss as a legitimate catalyst for depression.

        Start-ups (which have young hiring managers) sound like a good bet for me. I’ve applied to a few but I’m going to start targeting more of them. Thanks for the reminder. : )

        @Colette: LinkedIn is great for that, isn’t it? I used to really love it. Unfortunately, my networking e-mails are never answered unless I’m offering to do something for the other person. (Which is the cardinal rule of networking – help others before asking for help.) I guess where I get depressed is over the fact that there’s no reciprocity. It makes me feel like shit about myself, and stokes the urge to not socialize further.

        1. Alisha*

          Colette, your comment just got me thinking of something I may be doing wrong. While I have lots of “connections,” i.e. between business card Rolodex, e-mail address book, and LinkedIn address book, I have around 600 people to get in touch with – I just realized that most all of them are in my industry, or in the industry I worked in very briefly previously to tech. (It’s no longer viable due to global economic changes.) So maybe the key here is to start diversifying my network, since my current one is what you’d call a “closed” network. I think I need to start meeting more general managers, non-profit folks, and people in education. The first group may be able to advise about department/middle management jobs, while the latter two may know how I could segue my huge skill set into something new, like courseware development or online help tutorials. Thanks again!

          1. Colette*

            Could you use your existing network to do so? I’ve had a lot of success (defined as getting information, not necessarily getting a job) in asking former coworkers to meet for coffee and spending 1/2 an hour talking with them about where they are, what they’re doing, and getting ideas from them – I usually try to have specific questions, such as “What was it like to move from a big company to a small one?”, “You’ve moved from a technical role to a non-technical role – what do you like/dislike about the change?” Could you do something like that, but ask specifically about contacts you could talk to about changing industries (or get in touch with people who have made a similar transition)?

            For example, people who work in big organizations may have contacts who do training. People in small organizations may actually do training, even though it’s not their main role.

            Speaking as someone who started in software development and now does something that’s not at all technical, it’s important to keep an open mind w.r.t. what you can do, as well as what you will be happy doing.

  40. Julie*

    What is a reasonable time for work expenses to be reimbursed? My last company had a large accounting staff and turned them around in about 48 hours. My new company is smaller (about 130 people) and takes 4 – 6 weeks.

    1. KayDay*

      From my experience 48 hours is really, really fast and 4-6 weeks is slow. My organization usually takes 1-3 weeks, depending on how long the approval takes and when bills are paid (we pay reimbursements at the same time as other bills, and issue a separate check). Many other organizations give reimbursements at the same time as payroll, but it’s the same idea–even if your request is approve, you have to wait until the next payday.

      1. khilde*

        Ditto: I’m a government organization and it takes about a week to two to get our reimbursement back. 48 hours seems crazy fast.

      2. Editor*

        It used to be fairly fast at my office — track expenses for a month, submit paperwork, get money in next paycheck a week later.

        Corporate began to have problems with cash flow, and reimbursements began to take several weeks, and freelancers were getting paid more slowly. A similar pattern took place at one of the places my husband worked — the business lost a big customer, and suddenly reimbursements took more time, even though the paperwork requirements hadn’t changed.

        From what I’ve heard, a lot of companies take two to three weeks) because that’s a week of prep plus a pay cycle if pay is every two weeks. Just polish up your resume when the amount of time being taken to pay reimbursements gets longer and longer.

    1. KayDay*

      I swear I did not see this nearly identical comment before writing mine–but I guess we are on the same page.

  41. Anonymous*

    I recently started working with an IT company in an administrative position. I don’t have an IT background and there is a lot of terminology/jargon I am expected to learn quickly. For those of you in IT, are these things easy to learn quickly? What are things you recommend to help me pick up as much as I can?

    1. littlemoose*

      Forgive me if I’m being overly simplistic, but I really don’t think it hurts to just ask your coworkers. A simple, “What does this mean?” when a non-admin person gives you some work shows that you’re trying to learn your new job and what the company does. Gradually asking as things come up (not just peppering people with frequent questions) is a natural learning process that will dovetail with the information you need to know for your job duties. Surely your boss and coworkers know that, as an admin, you didn’t come to the job equipped with this type of technical knowledge, and they should be happy to help you get up to speed.

      1. Anonymous*

        Thank you for the reply! This absolutely makes sense and it’s a very friendly environment so questions are welcomed. I kind of feel pressure to learn all this asap and it’s overwhelming to learn it all. I’ve been given a lot of literature about it so hopefully I can extract questions based on that.

        1. littlemoose*

          No problem! I’m glad to hear that it’s a supportive work environment; that’s very conducive to learning. I understand that it probably does feel overwhelming, but I think that’s to be expected. As long as your supervisors and coworkers have reasonable expectations, you should be just fine. The mere fact that you’re eager to close this knowledge gap is a great sign too.

        2. Clobbered*

          Ask not only “what is it” but “what is it for”. Otherwise you risk getting definitions that are not enlightening and are hard to remember.

          Eg. “What is an SUV” “it’s a sports utility vehicle” v. “what is it for” “it’s for transporting people and gear off-road”.

      2. em*

        Just don’t do it in a meeting where the boss prides herself on running as efficiently as possible. Just write down the acronym or whatever and ask a friendly coworker later.

    2. Student*

      If you can’t find someone to ask, try Google. Usually, a good keyword and the acronym will get you decent results.

      Also: some IT acronyms are not necessarily easier to understand once you know what they stand for. Classify the acronyms if at all possible. It’s probably more useful to know that acronym XYZ stands for a program that does function A than it is to know exactly what the letters XYZ stand for. The acronyms don’t always match up with verbal pronunciations, either. For example, SCSI is pronounced “scuzzy.”

  42. T.*

    Does anyone have any suggestions on addressing a cover letter when the company is unknown (the position is posted through a search agency who doesn’t reveal the name of the employer)? Googling told me to use “Dear Selection Committee” Thoughts?

    If anyone also has tips on writing a letter for a situation like this, I’d appreciate them too! I have a job description, so I can at least show how my skills match up, but I can’t really do any research on the company to make myself stand out beyond that. Thanks!

    1. Tami M*

      LOL I just posted a similar question today also. Not in this thread though. I just thought it was funny to get the same ? from 2 people whos names start with T. ;) hehe Btw…I got the same answer. When it’s good its good; when it’s right, its even better! :)

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Thanks for asking this. I’ve just been saying “Good morning,” or “Good afternoon,” and then launching into my spiel. (Using the timing for emailed applications where they can see it arrived at 2 pm, for example.)

  43. KarenK*

    Why is it I always take positions that my friends feel are beneath me? I know I’m worth way more than I’m being paid. I’ve asked for raises several times. My boss just laughs when anyone in my department brings up raises. Meanwhile they hire new people at higher wages! The job market where o live is limited and I stay for the insurance. How can I better market myself?

    1. B.*

      If you are “always” taking jobs you feel are beneath you, that is your problem. Gain more skills and more confidence.
      Those new hires are probably getting higher wages because they asked for them. They probably also have skills that you don’t have, or don’t make known to those in power to hire or promote.

    2. fposte*

      This sounds like it could be a few different questions. Do *you* think you always take jobs that are beneath you (our friends often want the best for us when the marketplace doesn’t agree), and what do you mean by “beneath me”–are you overqualified, or you think you should get paid more for the level you’re at, or, for that matter, you think you should get paid more because you’re overqualified?

      It could be that your friends (and maybe you) have been optimistic about your worth in a limited market, and that your job isn’t beneath you. Or it could be that you don’t apply to jobs at your level or negotiate when you get an offer. Those aren’t about “marketing yourself,” those are about choosing what you go for and asking for what you want at the most important time.

      Find somebody in your town you like with some current experience in your industry and see if they’ll give you some perspective on where you fit in the industry and what kind of career trajectory you’re on. Ask nondefensively about things you could do to be a stronger candidate or employee, and don’t be appeased with a “You’re just fine”–this isn’t about you not being fine, but about ways you can grow.

  44. Cassie*

    Colored pens at work, yay or nay?

    I usually use blue ballpoint pens, although once in a while I’ll use a black pen. I also have some colored RSVP pens, but use them infrequently. I’ve seen people (guys) using purple pens for signatures, but I don’t know if that was just the pen that they use for signatures, or if that was just the pen they had handy.

    My sis used to work for a small bookkeeping firm and they were only allowed to use black pens.

    1. Anonymous*

      I can understand only using a certain colour on, for example, physical (accounting) ledgers, but I really don’t see the point in dictating pen colour at work as a general rule.

    2. Anonymous*

      Be careful – pen colours like purple (if its light and more pinkish) fades on a photocopy or B&W scan.

    3. KayDay*

      I’ve heard of some places requiring colored pens (usually blue) for signatures–I’m guessing that was to ensure that it was an original signature left over from the days before color copies were common.

      1. Anonymous*

        You can more easily tell a “real” blue signature apart from a “photocopied” blue signature than a black. But yes.. black signatures can look like they were photoshopped on.

    4. Blinx*

      Blue or black is usually required for anything legal. Found that out when I went to sign mortgage documents with a purple pen!

      I often had to initial/date forms at work, so I always used a green pen for this. Made it easy to see if/when I signed it.

    5. Kelly O*

      Only if there is not a reason you need to use blue or black. Like others pointed out, for some legal documents you have to stick to certain colors, or if you’re using an existing system that only uses black or blue or red.

      However, I write in black, and use colors to make notes about what I’ve written. It helps things stand out for me personally. (For example, I have a list of things to do today in black – I make my check marks and notes about results/unexpected things in different colors so I can easily see what I need to go back and revisit later.)

  45. Dee*

    Is it okay to let my boss know that I’m looking for another job while I’m still in my probationary period?

    I was always told that your probationary period is like a “test-drive” for the employer AND the employee. I really don’t like my job and I don’t like the commute. I have my 3 month review in a few weeks; should I tell my boss that I don’t think it’s working out, and that I plan to move on?

    1. KayDay*

      Don’t tell them–you don’t want to end up completely unemployed. Particularly after just 3 months, and at a job that you admit isn’t the best fit, they probably won’t be willing to keep you around while you search for something better.

    2. Kaz*

      Only if you want your boss to help you move on by firing you at the end of your probationary period. Yes, you don’t want to work there forever, but if you’re really unhappy, he’s probably already noticed. But unless you are ready to actually quit (or be let go) I wouldn’t say anything now.

  46. Anonymous*

    Question. My mom has been looking for a job for 1 1/2 years. She has finally started to get interviews right around the time that unemployment is ending. She made it to round 2 of the last interview but does not think she got the job because she didn’t ask questions and she said that they seamed to want her to ask questions. She has been doing this type of work (the job she applied for) for years and knows the ins and outs. She has been working in an office for years, over 30 years and knows the ins and outs of office. The 1st interview already explained salary and benefits. What questions should she be asking on interviews if she really has no questions to ask?

    1. Anonymous*

      I really want to recommend Alison’s book Secrets of a Hiring Manager to your mom. I bought the book and have been reading it and I really wish I had read it sooner. I think your mom would really get a lot of valuable information from it.

      I have been looking for a few months also and I understand how your mother feels. Good luck to your mom.

    2. fposte*


      Seriously, it doesn’t matter how well she knows the work, she doesn’t know this office. I think it may not just have been that she didn’t ask questions but that she didn’t realize that there were things she didn’t know that might be important. (I think this might be especially true if she’s been at one place for a long time; it might suggest she’s not aware of how different every workplace is.)

  47. Anonymous*

    Hi guys, freaking out a bit over here, hoping someone can give me some sage advice.

    I graduated with a Master’s in December in environmental management. This took place in Australia, where I had been trying to look for a job, but it was too hard to get a sponsorship, considering I am an American citizen. I’d been in school for 6 years at that point, and I had a fantastic internship related to my field all of last year with the Australian Govt.

    I’ve been back in the States for 5 months now, and finding a job here has proved to be extremely difficult, especially since my network is mostly in Australia. One of the reasons I don’t think I’m getting past initial phone interviews is that I’m applying to jobs that are out-of-state, well, more like out-of-region (in the NYC area and looking in the south/southwest). I’m trying to address this in my cover letter, as suggested by Alison, by saying I plan on moving there, but I don’t know what else I can do or say to convince hiring managers I’m willing to relocate/pay the costs/etc. Any more advice on this? I also was wondering, is it a bad idea to apply to several jobs in different locations in one company? For instance, applying online to the Environmental Scientist positions in both Phoenix and Austin.

    Additionally, now that it’s July, the gap between graduation and official employment is getting larger and larger. In this time, I have gotten additional certification that many employers were asking for (HAZWOPER). I also took an intense babysitting job to pay the bills, but would an employer care about hearing about that? I will be starting a volunteering job in my field next week, now that the babysitting is done, hopefully that will get me somewhere.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Anonymous*

      I hate to say it because I know I hate it when people say it to me, but join the club.

      Just keep searching and the volunteer job is a good start. Sure it doesn’t put money in your wallet, but it can give you experience in the field. Maybe you might want to look a little closer at home for the time being, and then start to look at the southwest.

      And yes, you might have to get a job outside of your field for the time being, and I’m not talking about baby-sitting.

  48. Kathleen from AZ*

    OK, this is a huge thank you to Alison!!! This is so cool.
    I had an interview Tuesday. Before the interview, I re-read everything I could find on Alison’s page, and I downloaded her “How To Prepare For An Interview” guide. After the interview, I wrote a really strong follow-up to my interviewer. I did not say thank you (that’s a first for me), but instead wrote “three things you may not know about me”. I just got the call!!! I am one of two candidates they are considering, and my interview is Monday.
    Any tips for me PLEASE!!!!???

    1. Anonymous*

      Kathleen, I hope your interview went well. You asked if this thread was closed, I don’t believe so. I hope you read Alison’s How To Prepare for an Interview. I downloaded it and it is very helpful.

      I am trying to get better organized with my job searching. I also have some other things going on right now with trying to help a parent. I got disappointed this morning. I reapplied for a new job posting that I really wanted at a place I really want to work for. Believe it or not, they pulled my resume again. This is after I made a complete stupid mess of things a couple of months ago. The very same wonderful company. I hope I am not reading too much out of this.

      The job was just posted for two days, today it was closed. I did not get an interview, but I wondered if they already had someone in mind. Someone I know that works there told me that they had to post all jobs. It is hard to believe that a job that was posted on 4th of July is now filled unless they had someone within already in mind. I was grateful and so surprised and happy they pulled my resume again. I hope it isn’t wishful thinking on my part. I was so afraid I had burned a bridge, I really hope not.

      Again, I hope your interview went well. If you ever need interview advice again, download this from Alison. I really appreciate all the information and help this site gives.

  49. TB*

    I just turned down an amazing job offer for personal reasons, something changed in my life unexpectedly (I thought I’d be moving back to the area where I was applying, but then things changed that very day!) I had declined it, emailed them back and said I made a mistake, yet when they asked me again if I wanted the position, I declined again. I really handled it badly, and I know I came off as totally indecisive. It’s really eating away at me.

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