Labor Day open thread

It’s our monthly open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything you want to talk about.

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!

{ 405 comments… read them below }

  1. Good_Intentions*

    Volunteer Issues

    In May, I signed up to be a joint leader of a volunteer group for a nationally respected organization. My partner and I were both interviewed and flown to out-of-state for an intensive four-day training, including leadership exercises. Prior to the training’s end, we evenly divided up responsibilities for the ensuing three months.

    We returned home and each resumed our respective schedules. I kept my end of the agreement with e-mails, blogs, and confirming our required monthly volunteer meeting. She repeatedly said she was “too busy” with work, tending to her daughter, and other issues to participate.

    Around July 4th, I learned that she left the country with her husband and daughter for an undetermined amount of time. No one within the organization has any idea of when/if she will come back to the U.S. While I believe family vacations are wonderful, I’m somewhat perplexed that she left without speaking to anyone about her timeline and left me to do all the work.

    I have mentioned my concerns to the paid volunteer director who interviewed us separately for the volunteer positions. He has no real advice and just tells me to move forward. Continuing to meet with volunteers, scheduling tabling and other events, and increasing awareness of the organization are things I can accomplish on my own, but I am getting anxious about the return of my volunteer partner.

    She’s been out of the country since the beginning of July, and I’ve done everything required of our volunteer group on my own. At this point, I almost believe that I should be allowed to ask for a temporary partner if she is not back by October.

    Should I just consider my minor issues part of volunteering? How long should I wait before speaking up about the issue again? Am I justified in asking if I could possibly get a new partner to share the responsibilities indicated by the organization?

    When/if my joint volunteer leader returns, is there a professional way to address the lengthy absence without being obnoxious? We’re both volunteers, so neither has any authority; therefore, I feel that I can only express my concerns with her decision to take an international vacation without telling anyone the schedule.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Fascinating! I would say that you can definitely ask if there’s someone else you can partner with. I mean, I assume that whatever you’re doing, it’s only going to ramp up before election day!

      If there’s nobody else available, I would say just be ready to help bring the partner up to speed when she gets back. It really does suck that they appeared to make a commitment, but sometimes volunteers are flaky, and the best way to make them less flaky is by making the volunteer experience as rewarding as possible.

      Good luck, and keep up the hard work! :)

    2. Anonymous*

      In general I think this is a “you should worry about you” kind of situation. If you’re swamped with work, ask for someone else to help you.

      But yeah, this kind of stuff happens– tons of people who agree to volunteer and get everything set up then disappear.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Keep in mind that (good) organizations want to keep good volunteers happy, and they know that a high percentage will flake out. You have every right to contact them now (no need to wait), explain that your partner has been AWOL for a long time, that the work is too much for one person alone, and ask to be assigned a new partner. This is completely reasonable.

      1. Good_Intentions*


        Much appreciation for your feedback on this issue.

        I have spoken with the volunteer coordinator via telephone and through e-mails about my concerns. He seems unwilling to do much at this time.

        However, I have learned that he previously revoked a previous volunteer joint leader’s position and personally trained that person’s replacement. I choose to interpret that as faint hope of securing a partner in the near future who will actually be in the area and actually contribute our group’s goals.

        One of the reason’s my partner’s extended absence troubles me is that the grant funding our volunteer outreach program, including the $600-per-person training, requires that each national location (more than a dozen) have a pair of volunteer leads to represent the organization’s current campaigns. Aside from my own frustrations, I don’t want my co-volunteer’s decision to be unclear about her travel plans to put any of the internationally known organization’s funding in jeopardy.

        At at rate, thank you for your response. I truly appreciate all comments I receive about this issue, as it is unfamiliar to me.

        1. Colette*

          I see two different issues:
          1) Can you handle the work by yourself? (Not just are you capable of doing it, but are you willing to put in the time required to do it?) If not, you need to say something now – along the lines of “I’m happy to be volunteering for you, but I can’t handle the workload on my own.”
          2) If you can handle the workload – but your organization requires two people – there’s less urgency about addressing it, but I’d still suggest you do so soon. In this case, I’d go with “I haven’t heard from X since she left the country two months ago. Have you heard from her? I’m concerned having only one volunteer might cause issues in the future.” I would say, though, that the organization’s funding isn’t really your problem – it’s normal to be concerned, but if you’ve raised the issue and they’re not concerned about it, that’s all you can do.

          1. Liz*

            This is so weird. I was just listening to a story from an acquaintance who said she had been asked to co-lead a program in EXACTLY this kind of organization, but instead she pushed the work onto the other proposed co-lead in what sounded like a blatantly rude maneuver. When I heard the story I thought something like, “I would probably kick your butt if you disrupted my team or a program workload like that. What kind of non-profit was this?” But maybe this is just really common for that type of organization? (Think-big, dreamy people with on-the-go lifestyles would be attracted to the work, right?)

            This person is still in the country (planning to leave) and does NOT have a child. So I am pretty sure we don’t know the same person.

  2. Good_Intentions*

    Kimberlee Esq.:

    Thank you for the quick supportive response! I appreciate your feedback.

    As a point of clarification, the organization focuses on worldwide issues, but is based in a U.S. city, and my volunteer work has no direct overlap with the election. My volunteer partner and I are scheduled to represent our area from this past June through next May.

    I do agree that sometimes volunteers are “flaky,” and fail to follow through because of a myriad of reasons. Also, I really want to make my year volunteering with the organization worthwhile and help build my resume with a recognizable name.

    Again, much thanks for the positive note.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In limbo! We’re basically giving it a couple more months, and if it’s not significantly improved by early November (a year from the injury), then we’re going to talk surgery. However, I’m incredibly frustrated because I have two very contradictory opinions from two respected doctors who deal with a lot of foot injuries — one saying yes, surgery could fix this, and the other saying, no, it won’t help enough to be worth it and maybe I’ll just have very limited functionality forever.

      I have no idea how to navigate between these two opinions. In fact, here’s MY open thread question: What do you do in a situation like this? Get a third opinion?

        1. JohnQPublic*

          A third opinion costs less than making the wrong decision. Get a third. And a fourth if it makes you feel comfortable.

      1. Jamie*

        Yep. Even if you have to go out of network a third opinion from a top doctor in the field is a one time expense and can really be worth it for the peace of mind.

        There is always a danger she’ll offer a third alternative and then it will compound your problem, but thats what I’ve done in the past.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Oh, and here’s another question — how do you find the nation’s top specialist in something? I’m totally willing to go out of state to wherever the best person is, but I have no idea how to find that person!

        1. Jamie*

          Good question, when my mom got sick with a rare for of cancer one name came up every time we spoke to any doctor. The basically said his name in revered tones, but that was unusual as there was only me top guy so not sure why I even mentioned it.

          I’m really interested in reading the responses from your medical readers about how to do this cold.

        2. 22dncr*

          AAM – to find the best foot doctor in your area or nationally think “Who uses their feet professionally”. Call any large Dance Companies, Sports Teams, etc. and ask who they use. If you get the same name twice then google them. If nothing comes up bad/iffy make an appointment. If you have any contacts in any of these areas ask them too. It’ll take a while but you have 2-3 months. This year alone I’ve known 3 friends with your same injury – 2 dancers and 1 nurse.

          1. A Teacher*

            Like in the Chicago area there is one specific group that does all the orthopedic work for the sports teams and dance companies. Fortunately as an athletic trainer when I worked up in that area, I knew who they were and was able to refer my own mom to them. I would also suggest calling physical therapist or athletic trainer friends that you have because many have large networks, some nationally and could find out more for you.

            1. fposte*

              Yup. You want somebody who sees the most Lisfrancs of anybody and deals with people who need professional-level mobility. You can also check recent scholarly articles on the wonderfully searchable fracture. I note, for instance, that Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, NC looks to be enough of a specialist in the area that the Cleveland Browns sent their Lisfrancked QB to him. If you find a bigwig but they’re too far away, you can often get a name of somebody nearer you who worked with them–my spine surgery was done by a local guy who had been fellow with Big Important Spine Surgeon who farther away than was practicable for me to do my surgery.

                1. fposte*

                  Just “lisfranc fracture specialist”–“lisfranc fracture” should also pull up Google Scholar results for the academic articles, too.

                  You could also go through the top orthopedic divisions near you–that looks to be Hopkins and, for various values of “near,” Duke.

          2. 22dncr*

            Also – of the 3 – 1 had surgery ( within days with a pin inserted) and is doing fine; almost back to dancing professionally. The other 2 didn’t have surgery and are having the same issues you are. I usually opt for no surgery but…..

              1. Reva*

                Just to offer a thought, when I broke my ankle it took forEVER to heal and my doctor was thinking if it didn’t heal on it’s own by a certain point, we’d need to discuss surgery, which I was open to but afraid I’d need to be on crutches for 12-weeks, which would have been a nightmare. I think if you can avoid surgery, you should, but it ultimately comes down to getting the opinion (3rd/4th/5th) that makes you the most comfortable. My two cents.

        3. KB*

          I have called up the most prestigious medical school in my city and asked if they have a department of whatever at their teaching hospital. It’s worked out really well for me in the past, and although sometimes they drag a resident or extra student in the room, you really do get the best and most up to date technology.

        4. Cheryl*

          You can also look at Angie’s List in your area to see what doctors have been reviewed favorably; but honestly, it sounds like you’re going to be on the phone for a bit to answer your own questions.

          So if they did surgery, what exactly would they be doing?

        5. Jen M.*

          AAM, I’d try starting with GW or Johns Hopkins. JHU is a leading medical institution, as you know.

          It makes me sad to read that you’re STILL having issues with that foot!

          Also agree you should get at least a third opinion.

          Good luck!

      3. Liz*

        Oh no. I hope you feel better soon. It isn’t the same as your injury, but I tore my plantar fascia two years ago. I had to stay off it completely for what seemed like forever, and even now I have to do yoga to keep from losing functionality or going numb. So I know it is frustrating. Good luck.

        1. A Teacher*

          Liz francs take forever to heal regardless of what route you take. Blood flow to that area isn’t the best and typically conservative treatment involves partial weight bearing usually in a walking boot or cam walker and sometimes surgery if not healing. Physical therapy is almost always a recommendation. It isn’t a super common injury so that’s probably why you’re getting different opinions. I’ve seen both surgical and non-surgical and both good and bad results with both. Time is your best friend, whatever route you pick. Most professions put out trade magazines as well, I believe for orthopedics it is from AAOS (American Academy or Assoc. Of Orthopedic Surgeons) you can see the research articles done in there as a reference too.

          1. AnonA*

            I think I also heard about services that do a macro review of the treatment options and come to a decision. These would likely be pricey.

      4. NewReader*

        Rehab folks know a lot of good stuff – such as when surgery is the only option. They also know cool ways to help healing- that many people would not think of.
        If you have a rehab place near you with an outstanding reputation it might be worth the time to go for a visit.

        Osteopaths are also a great source for info.
        If you can bring copies of your xrays, that will speed up conversation a lot and save you time.

        The cool part is that these folks all know each other and they know who is GOOD and who to avoid. They have their own informal network of people that they enjoy working with.

      5. Mishsmom*

        it’s just amazing how long things take to heal!! i’m sorry you are still having to deal with this…

      6. Camellia*

        Also, ask any nurses you may know about the doctors. They know the good ones and the ones you want to stay away from. My daughter’s MIL is a surgical nurse in our large metropolitan area and she knows or can find out about any doctor’s reputation – the unofficial one.

  3. Anonymous*

    Let’s say A is a developer at a smallish, newish tech company. When he started he was told to come in at 9am, but only a few people are there at 9. He’s noticed that most people filter in between 9am and 10am. He starts (within weeks of his first day) showing up anywhere from 9-9:45 without talking to anyone about it first. Do you think:

    1) This being a small tech company they’re probably laid back enough that anyone can just do this and it’s ok so there’s no reason to ask
    2) He should be there at 9 unless he’s actually been told that this is ok
    3) He shouldn’t be rolling in late even if it is ok because he’s too new

      1. Jamie*

        This. Just ask.

        A lot of times rules are relaxed after a while, but it would be presumptuous to take it upon yourself without asking.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          This — but I suspect it’s fine for him to come in when others do. My industry is typically a 9:30-10 AM start time (we make up for it on the other end, believe me!) and yet every time I’ve started a new job they’ve told me to show up at 9 on my first day. Sometimes HR works 9-5 and everybody else works slightly different hours, but you’ll be told to come in at 9 at first because HR is the one telling you.

          1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            Or because you’re on a training schedule and they want to maximize training time. Like, once you’re settled in, the timing isn’t as important anymore.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I would say #2, but then ask someone. But ask in a way that doesn’t have a tone of “this isn’t fair.”

    1. Anon*

      As someone who’s recently started a new job, it’s frustrating to come in on the dot when the norm is for people to roll in later because you are not as equipped to work independently right off the bat and you’re killing time until the people you need to speak to arrive.

      But I agree that, with his newness and the fact that asking would take 5 minutes, it seems presumptuous on his part. But what can they really do that this point besides the supervisor expressly giving a yes or no?

    2. Jen*

      Personally, I’d go with option 1, but I guess it can’t hurt to ask and make sure. As long as you don’t show up at 11, I doubt anyone cares if you come to work at 9 or 9.30, as long as you have time to finish all your tasks.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Being the new person, he shouldn’t do this. There may be a legitimate business need for him to have to be in a 9 AM. In my company, people come in anywhere from 8 AM up until 10 AM. It all depends on their job. The accounting people don’t support any other department or customers, nor do they answer phones so they can come in whenever, as long as they get their work done. People who have to take customer calls, answer the phones, or provide IT support need to be in by a specific time.

        1. Jamie*

          In small offices it can also depend on how the office locks up at he end of the day.

          People,with keys and the ability to lock the office can have more freedom than those who we’d to work within office hours.

          Not always relevant, but it happens.

        2. Jen*

          He said he’s a developer, and in my (limited) experience in a software company, no one *needs* the developers at 9 AM. If we were talking about a receptionist, then yes, I would agree, but for a developer it probably doesn’t matter.

    3. Anonymous*

      I was in a similar situation to this a few years ago as a new employee. I was told to be at work at “9,” while everyone else sauntered in around 9:20-9:30. So, because I didn’t want to come off as a slacker as a new employee, I decided a reverse psychology approach would be best. One day I called my boss at 8:45 to let him know I’d be 15 minutes late. He said not to worry about it. Then, when I got to the office, he said that as long as I’m in by 9:30, it’s no big deal. :-D worked like a charm!

    4. Colette*

      He’s a developer – it’s entirely possible no one cares when he comes in as long as he’s accomplishing what he needs to do. It’s also possible that if he needs help because he’s new, getting in at 9 means spending half an hour or an hour doing nothing because no one else is in yet.

      My question is if he’s not concerned and the company’s not concerned, who is this an issue for?

      I agree he could ask, but … he doesn’t believe that’s necessary, based on what you’ve said. If he doesn’t ask and it is a problem, he’ll have to deal with the fall out of that, but accepting the consequences of your actions is part of being an adult.

      If he’s working the normal hours of the group and there’s no compelling business reason why there has to be a developer in earlier, I can’t imagine anyone would care.

  4. Gallerina*

    I apologise if this is the most needy and neurotic comment ever, but I need a bit of help/reassurance.

    I have an interview on Wednesday for the job A LEVEL ABOVE my dream job and I am a massive, anxious mess already. Any suggestions for keeping calm and confident in an interview when you feel like you’re punching above your weight? Or for when you’re a pretty neurotic/fretful person anyway? I prepare so thoroughly for interviews, then walk in and my mind just goes blank and I lose the ability for coherant thought.

    AAM’s excellent advice has clearly worked wonders for me on the resume and cover letter front, now all I need to do in conquor interviewing and I’ll be unstoppable (maybe).

    1. V*

      Well first of all, don’t feel like you don’t deserve this! You didn’t win a lottery for an interview. They reviewed your credentials and decided that you are qualified for the job. So you’re not “punching above your weight” as you put it. Good luck! You’ll do great.

      I find that a good way to practice for interviews is to rehearse my answers to those commonly asked questions, all the way down to the exact wording. Sometimes when you know what your answer is going to be for something, but you haven’t really rehearsed it, you can go into the interview and give a 5-minute rambling answer because you don’t know when to stop. I’ve thought to myself “ok, i’ll just talk about X when they ask me what my biggest weakness is.” But it’s tremendously more helpful when you actually speak these answers to yourself. You’ll end up noticing areas for improvement that you didn’t before, just like when you write something, look at it the next day, and change half of what you wrote.

      Good luck! I hope this works out for you. :)

      1. Gallerina*

        Thanks! That’s such a great suggestion. I do have a tendency to ramble, or even worse go off at a tangent because I susally decide on a vague answer and get distracted.

        I guess it’s just practice, practice and more practice!

        1. HB*

          One helpful thing I do before interviews is make a list of situational questions you think might come up, and then write out a list of possible situations you could talk about. For example – Tell me about a time you had a conflict at work and how you handled it, tell me about a time you dealt with a change, a time you saw a project from the idea phase to completion, etc. I bet there are lots of good sample interview questions you can find on this blog and through a little google research.

          Then, take some time to think about the best possible story/situation that answers their question. You don’t need to write them out word for word, but you can practice telling them concisely and in a way that makes sense to an outsider. That way, you have all your good “stories” at the front of your brain. Even if they ask a question you didn’t necessarily prepare for, probably one of the “stories” that you’ve been reflecting on will work in that situation. If you’ve prepared a great “how i handled conflict” answer, it will still work if they ask you “tell me about a time you dealt with a challenging client or coworker.”

          I hate it when I leave an interview and I immediately think “Oh no! I should have answered that question with THIS situation! It was so much more applicable than the actual answer I gave!” This tactic helps me feel more prepared, and avoid rambling while I rack my brain for a good “story” to answer the question.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          If I’m nervous or stressed, I try not to eat at all before whatever it is I’m nervous about. Eating is just another way to give my body the tools it needs to sabotage me.

          1. anonymices*

            There’s a commercial I have seen lately about some hugely fibrous cereal you should (allegedly) feed your child before the spelling bee.

            Sure! The sudden introduction of colon-stimulating foods before a big event is *suchagoodidea*

          2. Rana*

            Bodies are so idiosyncratic, aren’t they? If I didn’t eat before something demanding, I’d be spacey and light-headed, and would break into a cold sweat!

            (Medical fasts are such a total blast, let me tell you…)

          3. EM*

            Ha! I think this is a case of you know your body best. I do hsve a sensitive stomach, but if i skipped breakfast, I’d just as likely faint or get the shakes.

    2. Anonymous*

      Also remember there are many factors beyond your control, and accept it. The preparation you have done is the part you can control. I really hope it goes well for you and also remember that any interview is a worthwhile experience that will be applicable down the line.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      These are great suggestions. Also, there are a bunch of suggestions for controlling nerves in my (free) how to prepare for an interview guide (see the Books link at the top) — check those out too.

      1. Gallerina*

        Thanks everyone! I am planning scrambled eggs on a bagel for breakfast :)

        Alison: I’m working on the guide right now, it’s a great help and your cover letter tips have already made a HUGE difference to my job search.

        The thing I find exasperating is that I used to not worry about interviews that much…until I a horrific one where they were so unpleasant that I barely made it out of the interview without crying (and only made it to the front steps before I was sobbing). Now I’m just mad at myself for getting so worked up all the time!

        1. Jill of All Trades*

          Gallerina, I’m sorry that happened to you. It sounds like they put you through a stress interview, which can be a really bad experience for most people. It’s a jerky thing to do (unless your job requires you to remain cool in a hostile environment) and most interviews are not like that. Try thinking of the interview as a work meeting, where they are bringing you in as a subject matter expert to get your insight. You are the best authority on you and your experience, so think of your work and background as your product, and they would like to use your product. You’re not selling it to them, you’re telling them how this product would fit into their work and what it can do for their business based on what has been done in the past.

          Good luck and let us know how it goes!

        2. NicoleW*

          I understand the nerves! If I landed an interview for Dream Job, I would be paranoid initially. Then trying a variety of coping mechanisms like those mentioned here.

          One thing to keep in mind: unless this company has an identical title/department structure as your current role, there is a decent chance you are totally qualified for the position! As has been said here in other posts, job requirements aren’t always absolute. Alternatively, maybe you haven’t done this type of role before, but they love your experience in X or Y.

          Good luck!

          1. Gallerina*

            Firstly, thank you everyone for being so lovely. Funnily enough reading the nice comments and suggestions made me feel so much better :)

            The interview went ok, although it was VERY unusual. As you might have gathered, I work in the Art Business, but usually the questions are mostly focused on customer service/schmoozing ability and inventory management. The first 1/4 of the interview was pretty standard “Why did you apply for this job” “What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?” “Talk us through your CV” stuff, which thanks to AAM I was well prepared for.

            2nd 2/4 went totally off piste. One of my interviewers gave me a postcard of a Liechtenstein and asked me to date it, which I did CORRECTLY (VERY lucky guess) then I got a full on quiz on Lichtenstein auction results, what I’d value it at (out by £20m. Oops. They were nice about it though) and ha to do an outline of what I’d write a essay on regarding the work, and what Warhols I’d compare it to. I came a bit unstuck when it came to pre- Pop Art American Art and forgot Jackson Pollock’s name. It was hard!

            It was like doing a test I hadn’t prepared for, but it was actually kind of fun. I hope that they take it as a judgement on how I think and react as opposed to my instant recall on art world facts. I think I handled myself well – although I did disagree with the interviewer over Warhol’s Marilyn print.

            Last 1/4 was me asking questions. AAM’s magic question fell absolutely flat, but the rest went well.

            Oh and I had scrambled eggs and a bagel for breakfast :)

            1. Surlyhrgirl*

              Disagreeing with the interview on something subjective was probably a good thing. It showed them that you were prepared to support your opinions and weren’t just a “yes-man” candidate.

    4. Anon*

      I kind of go with a reverse psychology approach and tell myself I’m not going to get this job anyway, so this is really just interview practice for the future.

      By no means mentally beat yourself up before you go in there, this is just to help take some of the pressure off.

    5. NewReader*

      This calls for the reward system. You are about to take on this tough task. Once you complete it, what is your reward? Keep the reward simple so that you actually do it. Ice cream? movie? visiting a dear friend? Try to drum up a meaningful activity that would help “pull” you through the interview. ( Ex: “Oh, after this I get to go see my favorite aunt. I love going to see her.”)

  5. I think my company accidentally overpaid me*

    …but I can’t actually figure out whether they have or not, and if so what the best thing is do about it.

    In August I was in a tight spot financially due to two reasons:

    1. My company didn’t process my July overtime correctly, meaning my July end-of-month paycheck was around 25% less than it ‘should’ have been
    2. I had to fly to visit an ill family member with a week’s notice.

    I requested a small advance in the middle of August and the company kindly gave it to me. However, in my August end-of-month paycheck, they seem to have paid me the full amount – including the advance again.

    To put it into made-up numbers:

    I’m normally paid $1500 plus $500 overtime a month, for a total of $2000.
    In July, they made an error leaving off the overtime, and paid me $1500. I raised this and they said they would add the missing $500 to my August paycheck.
    I asked for an advance, and they gave me $300 in the middle of August.
    In theory I think I should have received $2200 this week – $2000 for August work and overtime, plus $500 July overtime, less $300 advance.
    However, they paid me $2500.

    First, am I correct that they’ve overpaid me? It seems to me they’ve paid me my advance twice. Second, if so, what’s the best way to address this? Obviously my gut is saying “shut up and keep the money” but I can’t really justify that to myself.

    1. Jamie*

      If your gut is telling you to keep money they isnt yours, then your gut’s wrong. That’s stealing – moral issues aside (although huge moral issue) its the easiest thing to trace and when they find the error you’ll look shady for not pointing it out.

      From your numbers it looks,like they just forgot to repay the advance to the company. Better to tell them now, then have it come out when ou least expect it – besides it’s just the decent thing to do.

    2. Jen*

      Go to your finance department and ask? I’m sure someone will figure it out at some point and you won’t get to keep the money anyway. Plus, it will look better if the see you’re being proactive and helping them straighten out a potential mistake.

    3. fposte*

      Pragmatically speaking, I think silently keeping the money, after your employer advanced you cash when you needed it, would kill your future there. Doesn’t sound like that would be worth it.

      If you can move the overpayment out of your regular money without incurring cost (my bank lets you have savings subaccounts at no charge) do that immediately, so you don’t see your money as including that overpayment any more.

    4. Anonymous*

      I was in the exact same position late last year. I was paid by the hour, and my company estimated the last week of a pay period, then adjusted accordingly the following pay period if the estimation isn’t right. My office manager estimated regular work hours in December when I actually took a lot of time off.

      I went to them in January when it became clear I’d been overpaid for two reasons: It was the right thing to do, and I didn’t want them suddenly demanding $2,000 when I didn’t have it.

      The weird thing is, my office manager told me to keep the money because of some weird thing about starting the new year fresh. Routinely, if the company owes money, they’ll pay it in January, but if the company overpaid in December, the employee keeps it. I had no idea. I’ve since then left the company, but it would have made for an ethical dilemma in December about taking lots of time off but getting paid anyway.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Your gut is to wrong to tell you to steal from your company, but in case you need a reason to do what’s right for you, here it is: Your company will probably realize eventually that they overpaid you and out of the blue you’ll suddenly, unexpectedly recieved a paycheck for less than you expect because they took the money you owed them back out. And becuase you weren’t expecting it, you be back to having the problem #1 that you were paid less than you expected only this time they won’t have any reason to advance you any money to tide you over.

      And if for some reason you were not overpaid (it seems pretty obvious that you were though) then you can enjoy the windfall without any guilt or stress.

      1. JohnQPublic*

        Yeah, obviously you can’t keep it. Instead, pass it along to the state by buying a whole bunch of lotto tickets. That way it’s like an investment!

    6. ANB*

      Option 1: Say nothing, work out what you should have got and put the rest into savings and Do Not Touch It!

      Option 2: Go to Payroll/accounts and say “I’m not sure my salary payment was right. Can we work through it?”.

      I have always gone for Option 2. Its much simpler than sorting out the mess months afterwards and avoids any resentment.

      Also people are much fresher at the time about what they’ve done. Its horrible trying to remember why something was done months later when trying to unwind it! You are far more likely to remember within a couple of weeks than a few months!

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I agree. They will find out, and from the sound of it (based on my experience running payroll) the error will keep recurring. So if you don’t say anything, they’ll just keep overpaying you and you’ll owe more in the end.

    7. Rana*

      Even if the ethical arguments aren’t persuasive to your gut, here’s a practical one: when they eventually get around to noticing the error (and they will), that overpayment is going to come right out of your next paycheck. Given that such accounting is likely to come at the end of the year, do you really want to end up X dollars short unexpectedly during holiday time?

      Talk to them.

        1. Kelly O*

          OMG. It’s like heaven in a little jar. I ration mine, since our Trader Joe’s is about an hour or so from me, but man… I could eat a whole jar in one sitting if left to my own devices.

          On the plus side, I don’t eat anything with it. Just one lovely teaspoon full at the time. It feels way more decadent than it is.

          Now, Heather, let me tell you about the dark chocolate sea salt caramels…

          1. Jamie*

            Thank a lot – now I’m hungry. I really don’t think you should have brought that up unless you have enough to share with everyone…

          2. Katie*


            And since you’re in Houston, The coffee shop Boomtown Heights serves up fresh chocolate chip and sea salt cookies every day (if you get there early enough). Just sayin’.

            One day, they will build that Trader Joes in Montrose. ONE DAY.

        1. Jamie*

          I have to pass one on the way home. Can I just say you are all horrible people? Tempting the trying-to-be-virtuous on their way home.

  6. JfC*

    I’m upset at how the management is bullying a coworker of mine. I guess I can’t really get involved outside of advising the coworker what to do.

    1. EM*

      Help them look for another job? Document incidents that you witness and keep the documentation in a safe place (not at work!) Just in case.

  7. Jessica*


    What are your thoughts on applying for a paraprofessional position with an MLIS? For context on my situation: I live close to a school with an MLIS program and people tend to stay in the city after graduation, so the market is flooded. For Reasons, I cannot move from the city for the next three years. I am currently in a paraprofessional position and will graduation with my MLIS this December.

    Question #2: If you currently have a job that is not a traditional library job, how did you get it? What skills did you have or how did you market your library skills as a good fit for what the company was looking for?

    Thank you!

    1. JT*

      I got my current job before getting an MLIS, and while I’m very slowly looking around for an information-management-related new job, I haven’t gone far. So I can’t speak from personal experience.

      But here’s some thoughts about your question from an event I helped put on at my school which we called “Thinking Beyond the Library” –

      I’d encourage you to get involved with or at least browse around websites of professional organizations not focused on academic or public librarianship particularly SLA and also AIIM.

      1. JT*

        The last sentence above probably wan’t clear enough – I meant to get ideas on how to market yourself from those organizations. I think the skills of librarianship are very valuable in many fields, even if professional library jobs may be hard to find.

    2. Anne*

      Q #1: I think concerns about this are overstated, particularly if you get the parapro job while still in school. I can imagine that any employers when you do start applying for librarian jobs will be understanding that it was a tough market at the time and you did what you could to stay in the field and pay the bills.

    3. danr*

      Also, look at the industries that support libraries. The Indexing / Abstracting / Full text companies are usually in or near large cities and most pay near or just over entry level library salaries. There is usually a decent turnover since librarians use them as stepping stones to the libraries. And the other benefit is that you get real training for the work.

      A good site to look at for the whole range of libararian jobs is the I Need A Library Job site and LinkedIn group.

    4. Zed*

      A library job is a library job. Most people with the MLIS, especially those who live in over-saturated markets, can’t afford to be picky–if the alternative is no job, go for the paraprofessional job. There’s a lot of competition for those too, and I’d wager that the majority of applications for most paraprofessional jobs are recent MLIS grads.

      If you have a paraprof job now and can keep it until you’re looking to move, do it. You will be a better candidate than all those library school grads who have zero library experience. Definitely start looking at job postings. Figure out what types of skills the entry level postings are asking for and get them.

      For reference: A month ago, I started an academic librarian position. It was also the two year anniversary of my graduation. I spent those two years working 2-3 part-time jobs (one para, two prof) in a city with a library school, and my part-time jobs led DIRECTLY to this full-time job.

    5. HelensTwin*

      Every public library admin I’ve ever talked to about it has said don’t, under any circumstances, ever take a parapro job once you’ve got your MLS. That might be old school thinking, as I know of some systems for certain that hire up to professional positions from their parapro pool. Also, if you’re not looking in public libraries, that might be moot. But I would say, before you take the job, talk to some of the librarians in the system to see if you’re going to be stuck for good.

    6. Dani*

      I’ve heard from many people not to apply for para-pro positions after you graduate, but I never listened to that. Any library experience is better than no library experience, and from what I’ve heard from hiring managers and others on the “inside”, any library experience is a plus, even if you don’t have the ‘librarian’ title.

      I got my MLIS last December while I was working in a temporary grant-funded position (in a public library doing tech support and teaching computer classes). I took the first library job I could since I knew I couldn’t afford to live long without any income once the program was over. My title now is Library Assistant III, supervising student assistants in an academic library, and I’m trying to get back into public libraries.

      I live in an over-saturated area as well, and it’s just hard.

  8. Jubilance*

    In the last open thread, I asked for advice & good wishes because I was interviewing, and also trying to change fields. Well, I got the job! I went through 4 interviews before they made me an offer, which was more than I expected. Friday was my last day in my previous job, which was bittersweet. I’m super excited to be doing something totally new but I’m also freaking out a bit & hoping that I can do it.

    Thanks a bunch to all the AAM regulars that were so encouraging & also with the tips about professional clothes! Ann Taylor has been a lifesaver.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, Jubilance, that’s wonderful news. Man, I love it when people report success! (It must be ten times as delightful for Alison!)

    2. Kelly O*

      Awesome!! Congratulations on the new position.

      (And I love Ann Taylor. I cannot wait until I finally lose enough weight to fit in some things I’ve stashed away. Banana Republic has some gorgeous things for fall too.)

  9. Ali*

    Does anyone know anything about how to become an activities director in a nursing home? I’ve looked far and wide over the Internet and can’t seem to find much except for content farm articles, which I’m not trusting. I want to switch fields because the one that I originally wanted to be in, communications/PR with a sports team, has limited job opportunities and way too many applicants for the jobs that are open (like 700+ for one job). I’m also self-employed and am seeking more stability and to get a job with health benefits. I have volunteered in nursing homes before and enjoy being around the elderly, so I’m aware of the type of environment I’ll be in.

    What should I do? Does anyone here know if I have to be certified and if it’s state specific, like it is for teachers or something? I know there are courses out there, but some employers prefer certification and others don’t list it as a requirement. I just know I don’t want a Master’s (enough debt from undergrad, thanks) unless it’s truly necessary for whatever path I end up choosing. I’m thinking of volunteering at a nursing home once a week (I have one weekday and one weekend day off from my job so I can easily arrange this without cutting into my current work), but don’t know where to go from there.

    1. Joy*

      Once you start volunteering at the nursing home, it will be pretty easy to just ask the folks there what it takes to be an activity director. I worked in nursing homes on the nursing side of things, and I don’t think that the position you want requires any specialized degree…

    2. Rachel - Former HR Blogger*

      This is not just a simple plan activities job. When you’re working with “activities” in a nursing home or other rehab type facility the job is based on therapeutic recreation. That means individual plans and documentation is kept for the activities of the clients. There are degrees and certifications for rec therapy.

      1. The IT Manager*

        It depends. My friend was activities director at a senior community and she planned and arranged outings and activities like shopping trips and dance demostrations at the community center … it was not an occupational therapy type job as you are describing.

        1. Elizabeth*

          It really depends on the group of seniors and their health level.

          In a senior community where most everyone is healthy & mobile, it will be like what you’re describing. In a nursing facility serving people with significant health issues, there will be more of an occupational therapy & nursing component.

    3. Nichole*

      Take a look a job postings you would be interested in and find he requirements to help weed out the difference between the types of activities directors the commenters listed. In my area, you don’t need rec therapy credentials (or for some positions many credentials at all, it’s more about experience), but we’re glutted with new medical field grads who would have an edge. If you want to make a career of it, a credential or certification in dementia care or CNA may be a good place to start. Being a good even planner won’t make you good at this. Even for the jobs where they just need someone to make the fliers for movie night, there may be room to expand the role if you bring something to the table. If you’re in the US, the American Alzheimer’s Association issues the dementia care certification, and it’s a one semester course at the local community college. That may be a good place to start if more education is needed. But yes, volunteering is step one. That way they see your face, and you gain experience in the field.

  10. vacay-day*

    My co-workers sometimes forget about holidays! I am exempt and work at a very small non-profit organization that generally does not expect very much overtime (and comp time can be take if overtime is significant). According to our employee handbook, we get all federal holidays. However, sometimes my boss or other co-workers forget that it is a holiday. This has happened a few times in the past (although, normally on minor holidays.) Today for example, I am getting a lot of email traffic, including requests. Should I go into the office?

    1. The IT Manager*

      No! Just because your co-workers are work-a-holics don’t let them turn you into one. Everyone deserves an extra day off now and again and your organization gives them to you, officially, written down in the employee handbook.

      On a holiday, you should ignore whatever device is showing you this email traffic (unless you are on call).

      And I can’t imagine that your co-workers didn’t realize today was a holiday. They chose to go to work and if they act like you should be there let them know they’re wrong.

      1. vacay-day*

        We have some remote staff, and some of them are based outside the U.S., so it really is possible that they didn’t realize that today, and not May 1, was labor day. However, in the past my US based boss would occasionally forget the holiday, so after the first 2 instances I started reminding her a couple of days before!

        1. Jen*

          Even though I know today is a holiday in the US, I still e-mail my American coworkers, but I expect them to reply starting tomorrow. Ignore your email and go relax.

          1. ANB*

            Yeah, I do this all the time. I’m sending emails to a colleague now who is on holiday for two weeks. Two reasons:

            1) I’m working through the stuff now and it makes more sense to write it now than have to remember for two weeks.

            2) They don’t have access remotely to their email box. (Even if they did I’m happy to get an out of office and for them to deal with it on their return.)

            1. Delay Delivery*

              1) You can always write the email but (if you’re using Outlook) set up a delayed delivery so that it doesn’t actually send your message until X time and day. That way, you won’t have to remember what you wanted to write in 2 weeks and your colleagues won’t have to worry about replying on their day off.

              1. Another Emily*

                If you’re not using Outlook, you can often save drafts. (Outlook can do this as well.) I do this when I’m taking a while to write an email or holding off on sending one.

              2. Jen*

                But… why? I mean, when I’m on my day off, I simply don’t check e-mail and I set my auto-reply to indicate I’ll be back [whenever]. I don’t see why I should “take care” of the workaholics, it’s their decision if they check their emails and reply on their day off.

                1. Another Emily*

                  I meant if you’re going to write to someone who is on vacation. Instead of emailing them, save the draft.

                2. ANB*

                  +1. If I’m told that someone does check their email and finds it uncomfortable then fine, I’ll delay sending.

                  If not why should I? There is no demand on them to reply during holidays and I’d argue its worse coming seeing that a coworker sent 10 emails on different subjects on a single day than over the two weeks. They still have to deal with everything sent to them over those two weeks anyway.

                  I do have a miscellaneous email of small points which I am building and saving as a draft as I go along and will send at the end of the day prior to their return but that is a different matter.

                3. Jamie*

                  This. I send emails when I write them, and people can respond to them when they get back to work.

                  I’m glad people do this to me when I’m off so I know what’s on my plate. I’d hate to see an empty email box and then the day I’m back be flooded with 50 emails all at once.

                4. vay-cay day*

                  I generally like to check my email on days off so I know what to expect when I get back. I don’t normally respond unless I have to. What surprised me was the nature of the emails–the grammar used in one of the emails from a US-based person seemed to imply that she expected her semi-urgent request to be done on the holiday (the request was: “could you send me [XYZ document], so I can [use the document]?”) . Another message was a long back-and-forth chain I was included on, as opposed to just one message.

                  I don’t mind when people email me when I’m out, I get them all the time, but when I’m out I don’t normally receive short term task request type emails, and if I do, they will say “when you get back.”

                  …but seriously, all these messages made me feel so much better about not going in! so thanks everyone for helping me enjoy my (very relaxing) day off =D

        2. The IT Manager*

          In that case, send anyone emailing you an email gently reminding them that today is a holiday for your organiztion and that’s why you won’t be able to respond until tomorrow. Or better yet set an out of office reply.

          Seriously, though, today is a holiday, do not allow yourself to be guilted into working.

          1. fposte*

            Or just don’t answer until tomorrow, because it’s a holiday and you probably weren’t checking your email anyway. As Jen notes, in some cases they weren’t even expecting you to answer, and if they were, well, they should get a grip.

        3. Yvi*

          Doesn’t necessarily mean that they didn’t notice, it could be that instead of US holidays, they get their local holidays as days off.

          I am in Germany and I seem to remember that if you work for a company in state A, but work in state B, you get all of the holidays off, both from state A and state B, for example.

      2. vacay-day*

        Thanks guys! I sent a note to the foreign co-worker letting him know I will get back to him tomorrow and cc-ed the US-based folks as a gentle reminder.

    2. Anonymous*

      Has your boss told you you have today off, or is today on a staff calendar of days you clearly have off? If so, I’d say you shouldn’t have to go in.

    3. Blinx*

      “Today for example, I am getting a lot of email traffic…” Ahem. It’s a holiday. Stop checking your email!!

      Tip: As soon as you know the schedule of holidays for the year, go to your [Outlook] calendar, and block off all holidays, as being “out of the office”. The last working day before the holiday, put “out of office messages” on your voicemail/email. Then go and enjoy a day off.

    4. EngineerGirl*

      Make sure that those days are truly holidays. For example, not everyone gets MLK day or Presidents day off.

      On days you do get off, turn on your autoresponder. “I am out of the office due to name-of-holiday returning on date. I will answer your e-mail then. Thanks!”

      That way people won’t expect an immediate response.

    5. Jamie*

      “My co-workers sometimes forget about holidays!”

      Ha! I just got home, since I totally forgot we were off for labor day and drove in.

      That was a 66 mile round trip mistake, but YAY – day off!!

      But I have worked more holidays than not, only you know your office culture well enough to know if staying one when everyone is out will hurt you or not.

      Are you sure they are working from the office and not from home via email? That’s what I’ll be doing today.

    6. LCL*

      Turn off the computer. When you go into the office tomorrow, spend a few moments searching online for a list of federal holidays. The first link is to the official US Govt website. Then send out email links and hard copy as appropriate to your coworkers. Also take a moment to visit the AVYC website, it is a safe-for-work nonprofit donation funded calendar website that has been a valuable resource for me.

  11. Amanda*

    How important is your undergraduate degree when you’ve been out of school for a number of years?

    I am applying for non-profit jobs and I have a fair amount of paid and unpaid experience in that sector. Many job announcements ask for a degree in things like Public Policy, Communications, etc. I have a History degree. Is it still worth applying for those jobs if I feel qualified to do them based on my work experience? Obviously, I’m not applying for jobs that require anything like Social Work or Law degree, but I’m talking about jobs where I have the work skills required but just not the degree.

    1. Another Emily*

      I think it you should include the job in your resume. At the very least it shows you can knuckle down and finish a big project and you’re committed. But I bet there are transferrable skills in your degree too.

  12. Unemployed*

    I am unemployed and desperately seeking a job, any kind. I graduated 1 year and half ago with BA in Mass Communications and haven’t worked since then. I have applied for grocery store retail online, but never hear anything back. I’m terrified and am at my wits end. I would be fine with entry level minimum wage, but I don’t even know how to get hired for that. What should I do?

    1. KayDay*

      My understanding is that communications jobs generally require a significant amount of internship experience =\ Non-profit organizations, particularly those with an “advocacy” focus, usually have communications positions and internships.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I totally agree with KayDay. See if you can’t get a part-time, paid or unpaid internship in Communications somewhere, to at least be building experience.

    2. temp*

      I am sorry to hear you are in such a desperate situation. I would suggest contacting a temporary agency to see if you can get some clerical temporary work. Ask them about temp to hire. They will put you through some tests to test your knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel, ect. Don’t worry, these tests are easy, and you can prepare for them using online tutorials. It’s definitely worth a try.

      1. Ali*

        Mass communications was my major, and let’s just say I regret it. Especially when I’m now at the point in my life where I can no longer work for free, so that means I get passed over for people who can.

        1. Hari*

          I am a communications major (strategic communications to be exact). I have no idea how it has become a “fall back” major, yes it is expansive but its one of those majors that seems easy but I would argue to be successful at it you have to have more career direction and put in more work (as far as internships) than you would if you were a science or business major. I had 5 different internships during my undergrad (including an admin job) in advertising/media and managed to get a job in my industry 1 month out of school. Conversely, I know of comm majors who did nothing, graduated 2 years ago and are still unemployed. What you put into it, you get out of it.

    3. fposte*

      You might want to search the AAM archives for discussion of retail applications–from the comments made by those in the industry, it’s much more walk-in favorable than office-type jobs are, so you might want to check if the old-school approach would be more suited for your search. Are you geographically challenged? Most larger areas wouldn’t limit your options to groceries, so that’s made me wonder.

  13. A nony cat*

    I am applying to a job at a company that is the biggest competitor to my boyfriend’s company (and by boyfriend, I mean “opposite-sex domestic partner”–we live together and are serious, but not married or engaged). The job is very a very different function from my bf (for example: PR vs. finance). Could this be a problem and/or should I disclose it if I ever get to the offer stage?

    1. Blinx*

      I wouldn’t worry about it. This happens ALL the time. At my last company, only employees of a certain level had to disclose if they had a spouse working at a competitor. They had to sign a form every year stating that they wouldn’t disclose proprietary information to them. But it was up to the company to notify them about this policy.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      WHen you accept the job you and your boyfriend both will have to disclose it in a conflict of interest statement.

  14. MR*

    Yay, open thread! Looking for ideas for decorating my new office. I’m new to a professional environment, having recently obtained a graduate degree in my field, and I want to give people the impression that I am competent and mature. I also want people coming into my office to feel welcome. Clients won’t be seeing my office but coworkers will. My coworkers have decorated their offices in all sorts of different ways, so there is no one cohesive decorating “style” I must follow.

    1. Nichole*

      If “competent and mature” and well put together is he goal, an easy way to do that is to pick a color scheme, like you would for a room at home. My boss has the distressed metals and black throughout her office (picture frames, signs, etc), and it all looks very put together, but is also kind of homey and welcoming. (Disclaimer: I work in higher ed, so “homey and welcoming” may be more of a thing with us than it would be wih you, but the general advicce still applies.) Try going to the home decor section of any store, they usually have collections that have running themes and are in the same price range, then pick one that’s “you” and gives off the vibe you want.

    2. Meg*

      I tend to decorate with live plants (the easy kind to care for – lucky bamboo, flowering cactus sort of thing) and beta fish in decorative jars or vases (the kind of fish where they don’t die if you don’t feed them over the weekend and easy to take home when on extended leave).

      Then again, I have SAD, and I try anything to brighten every space with natural lights and natural things.

    3. Jamie*

      I moved the couch out of my office and replaced it with one chair oddly angled so you can only see me over the bank of monitors if you crane your head in a weird way. If the conversation goes on too long I’ll either move one of the monitors out of the way or they will need to visit a chiropractor to unkink.

      But then again, social and welcoming wasn’t the theme I was going for.

      It really depends on the budget they are giving you. Can you paint? Get new furniture? Or are you talking about the little touches you bring yourself?

      Because if it’s the latter I like a combo of KISS bobbleheads and Hello Kitty toys. ….but my definition of what competent and mature looks like may differ from most people’s.

    4. Juana*

      I’d say have a bookcase with relevant books (I’m sure you have plenty left from school!) and plants. There are plenty of potted plants that need very little care- I have one that’s survived four moves and 2-week long trips where nobody watered it.

    5. EngineerGirl*

      This can be such a trap. Stay neutral until you have established your reputation. Then you can relax. One of my co-workers collects bobble-heads for the Giants. He can get away with it because he is a good engineer. In this case, it signals that he has a life outside of work and he has “balance”. I think if he were a mediocre engineer the signal would be “slacker – doesn’t concentrate on work.” Same thing interpreted different ways just because of reputation.

      Since you don’t have a reputation yet, stay neutral. As you establish yourself you can start to relax.

  15. NeedComputerSkills*

    I am finding out that I don’t have the computer skills that most jobs want. I can do Word and basic Excel but that’s about it. Does anyone recommend any tutorials which will boost my skills in Outlook, Powerpoint and Raiser’s edge? Also, if I do a tutorial or take a class, will it still be a problem that I haven’t developed computer skills in the workplace? (My one and only office job was with an old-school boss who did everything by paper and pen.)

    1. ChristineH*

      In Word at least, you can click on the little “?” on the very top right corner, and it’ll take you to a page of topics about which you can read. I imagine the other Office programs have this as well. It also has a link to go to the Office website with even more information. Another option is that many local community colleges offer a ton of classes in Office programs.

      I don’t know Raisers Edge, however, but I’m sure if you googled it, you could perhaps find a tutorial or a local class, although I can’t say I’ve ever come across any classes in my area.

      Hope this helps – good luck!

      1. Anonymous*

        I worked at a place that used Raisers Edge, and I remember there was documents – with screenshots! – explaining how to use the system. You may be pleasantly surprised if you asked around in your workplace.

    2. Your Mileage May Vary*

      I don’t think it will be a problem that you didn’t develop the skills in the workplace. A lot of computer users pick things up along the way. If they ask you directly, in an interview, where you learned PowerPoint, be prepared to say what tutorials you’ve completed. Then it’s up to them to decide if you have enough experience.

      Personally, I’ve seen enough crappy PowerPoints by people who *were* getting their skills in the office that I wouldn’t hold office “training” as the gold standard.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Hahaha, it’s now part of my job to make PowerPoint presentations for my boss… I hadn’t used PPT since high school, and it was a totally different version, I had to learn everything from scratch. The upside is that it is easy peasy. I have low-level skill with it still, so I know there’s stuff that takes me forever that would take someone else no time at all, but as long as you can make a basic presentation (words with pictures), then you’ll be fine. I recommend just getting it for your home computer and tooling around with it. Get Outlook and start managing your personal email in it.

        Raiser’s Edge is more difficult. There are video tutorials and Blackbaud puts out documentation for it, but that’s about as good as it gets… you would probably need to find a class that teaches it, or get an Development/Membership internship somewhere to actually get hands-on experience… it’s expensive!

    3. H*

      US or UK?

      If UK and you need a basic refresher and upwards I’ve heard reasonable things about doing ECDL – European Computer Driving License. I’m not sure how complicated it goes as I was told it certain starts at the really easy stuff for those who haven’t touched a computer before.

      I’m actually thinking about doing it myself (probably Intermediate to advance levels though) since I want to fill in the ‘gaps’ I have from being self taught and therefore not knowing what I’ve skipped over that could actually be useful!

    4. Beth*

      I recommend finding documents that you think are impressive and trying to recreate them in the software … good power point slides, excel spreadsheets and word documents. Use the help menu when you cannot figure out something. I promise you this process will make your skills very sharp.

      1. H*

        True! I’ve learned loads through ‘disecting’ my bosses formulas and occasionally going and saying “ok, just how did you make this work?” when I couldn’t work it out. (Turned out it was something manually entered and not something fancy – boo!)

    5. Another Job Seeker*

      Hi – you may wish to try out They have free videos about multiple topics. Many of the users will record a session at the computer while they are doing something. That way, you can see exactly what they type. Hope this helps!

  16. Jen*

    Any comments on what an initial phone interview with a recruiter might be like? I’m looking into working with two recruiters for my job search. They are in another country (where I hope to relocate); one will only meet me in person when I go to visit next month and this one wants to do a phoner. I’ve had plenty of phone interviews (I prefer Skype) so I am mostly asking in terms of the content. I imagine it would be somewhat general. Thanks.

    1. Juana*

      The last few initial phone interviews I’ve had were somewhat general. They’ve been with HR reps who give an overview of the job with a bit more detail than the job listing, then ask about my current job, what I do day-to-day, and my background. Just be prepared to talk generally about what you currently do, and know the job listing really well or have it available to reference during the call. This is in the US though, and I don’t know how it would be different in another country!

  17. Aly*

    I wrote in a little while back about looking for volunteer work while unemployed but wanting that volunteer work to be useful – i.e., learn new skills, not just stuff envelopes. Well, I have an interview tomorrow for an unpaid internship that would teach me some very useful skills (and it is with an organization I love). My concern now is that as an internship, I would be making a much larger commitment than a regular volunteering job. I would have to work 10-12 hrs a week for 3-4 months. This means I would have to suspend my search for full-time work for the length of the internship and only look for part-time work. Realistically, that probably won’t be an issue as there never seems to be any full time work around here that I am qualified for anyway, but there’s always that chance that my dream job will open up and I won’t be able to apply for it.

    So my question is, do you guys think it would be worth it? Should I do the internship, which would probably help my future job search, even though it may limit my current job search?

    (This is all of course assuming that I am offered the internship, which may not even be the case, but since the open thread is today I figured I better ask now!)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Do the internship. In order to learn really useful skills from volunteering, you often do have to make a commitment like this (otherwise it’s not worth their investment in you). But don’t stop applying for full-time jobs — plenty won’t have start dates until your internship is almost over anyway, and if you do get a job offer mid-internship, you’ll deal with that then. They don’t expect you to turn down paying FT work.

      1. Lily*

        I’m curious, if Aly did get a job offer either before or during the internship, and she had to break off the internship, would it be better to tell the truth or lie (perhaps about a personal emergency) to the internship manager?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Tell the truth, definitely. First, it’s understandable — and second, if she lies and then the employer laters sees online or somehow that she’s working at this other job, it will really burn the bridge / destroy her reputation with them.

      2. Avig*

        Good question, Lily and I certainly agree with AAM. From experience, most managers who know that you are in an unpaid position are understanding that you need a paid one to survive.

    2. littlemoose*

      I think you should go for it. It sounds like a great way to get some real-world skills, and really three to four months is not a very long commitment. You can keep the job search going too – if you did get offered a good FT job, any sane person at the internship would understand your decision to leave early. You can certainly do PT work during the internship, as you mentioned. As long as you can afford it, as Meg mentioned below, it seems like it could be a good opportunity.

    3. ChristineH*

      I too encourage you to accept the internship if offered to you.

      By the way, I’m curious how you got this opportunity. I’ve thought about doing internships myself, but most appear to be meant for current students or recent graduates. I was able to get two internships last year through my career services center (they work with alumni too), although neither really went anywhere.

      Anyways, good luck!

      1. Aly*

        Thanks for all the responses! I am definitely feeling better about this opportunity. Now I just have to hope the interview goes well tomorrow.

        ChristineH, I am a fairly recent graduate as I just got my M.A. (a necessary degree in my field which I did directly after undergrad) in May 2011. I did get a job soon after graduating, but it was a 1 year position and nothing has turned up since that position ended in July. I read about this internship opportunity online and since they didn’t specify that you had to be a student to apply, I figured I’d give it a chance. I did address the fact that I’m not the traditional internship-seeker in my cover letter by stating that although I am not a student, I am new to the field and still have much to learn. I’m not how this would work for someone mid-career, but it never hurts to apply!

  18. Meg*

    If finances are not an issue, most definitely take the time to bolster your skills. Not only is it a good opportunity to learn skills, but its valuable experience for the resume.

  19. Juana*

    I’m currently working at Company A, with an offer at Company B pending background check and drug test. Company B reached out to me directly about the position, and I was warned during the interview process that I might be burning bridges because someone at B had left my team at A on very bad terms. It’s a bad relationship between people, not companies and I’m not violating any NDAs- B is a very minor client of A.

    I’m looking for advice on how to leave A gracefully without burning the bridges I was warned about. My thought is to say “We’ve been talking through some of the frustrations I’ve brought up in the past few months [true], and those haven’t been addressed so I’ve had my eyes open for other opportunities, and a very good one was offered to me so please consider this my 2-week notice.” Once they ask me what company it is and make the connection with this other person I’d make it clear that I chose to pursue this position and it has nothing to do with the last person who left (we won’t even be working together directly). And I’ll do everything in my power to help transition my workload, because it is a very small industry and I want us to part ways on good terms. Any other thoughts?

    1. littlemoose*

      I understand your concern, especially given the warning you received, but it may not be much of an issue if the same people aren’t involved. Did the person who left Company A on bad terms work in your department, or with your immediate colleagues? If not, it might not be a big deal at all.

      Regardless, I think the most important thing is to transition your workload well, as you said. Commit to doing that well, and then follow through. That seems like the best way to keep your bridge intact.

      1. Juana*

        Yes, the other person was in my department (of about 50 people) but didn’t work directly with my current colleagues. He did interview for a position on my current team, but ended up in a different part of the department. And then left for Company B shortly afterward in a blaze of glory which is still re-told at happy hours. As good as that blaze of glory sounds right now, I want to keep my network intact so I’m doing everything I can to stay on good terms.

        1. littlemoose*

          It sounds like you have a good idea of how to handle this already. As satisfying as the blaze of glory can be, everyone who reads this site knows that it’s unprofessional and a bad idea – I mean, it’s still being talked about in your company! Just because you are departing to work for the same company as that fool doesn’t mean you will be viewed in the same light. Be professional and courteous, wrap up your work as best you can, and move on without worry. Any particular kind words or compliments you can give to your coworkers before you leave – like thanking somebody who taught you a lot or was especially helpful to you – may also help ensure a positive departure, as long as those compliments are genuine and low-key (like verbal or via email). Again, good luck.

    2. KayDay*

      I would leave any negativity out of what you tell them and keep your statement brief (considering that there was drama in the past, I do not think this is the right opportunity to be open an honest).

      I would just say that you have received a good offer at B and your final day will be [date]. In the mean time, you will do everything possible to assist with the transition. If they ask any more, let them know about the positive reasons why you took the new job, e.g. more responsibility, promotion, better location, etc. Don’t mention the former employee unless directly asked, and if so, just be straightforward and say that your decision had nothing to do with him/her.

      1. fposte*

        I agree entirely. I understand that you’re trying to remind them that this shouldn’t be a surprise, but it sounds blamey in a way that’s likelier to raise hackles than smooth feathers. You’re moving on, you’ve appreciated your time at A, and you’re committed to a smooth transition and hope to remain good colleagues in the field. Honestly, I wouldn’t even bring the other person up unless they do, and then you say truthfully that you didn’t even know about it when you made your decision (or it had nothing to do with your decision, whatever the case is).

        1. anonymices*

          +1 It sounds blamey.

          Imagine how you would want someone to break off a romantic relationship with you – would you want to hear a catalog of why they are leaving, or just wish each other well and go?

  20. nyxalinth*

    My last few interviews, I’ve been entirely avoiding big, established corporate type call centers and offices and aiming more at smaller, more relaxed places. Between May and now, I’ve applied at about 10 such places, and only twice did I make it past a phone interview

    One place found me too ambitious: they were wanting someone who was content to eternally be on the phones. I don’t mean paying my dues then moving up, they wanted someone content to stay there forever. The next place the phone interview went great, and she said she would pass me to her manager who “unless he sees something about you and our interview that I don’t, you’ll be getting a call from him.” I’m guessing he did, because I never got a call.

    The next phone interview, they decided I didn’t have the right sales mentality, despite all the experience I had with inbound sales via cross and upselling during a call. I was actually kind of relieved, in a way.

    Finally, one was with a place that I really really liked. It went well. I got in for the face to face interview. that seemed to go well, except not. I suspect I sounded good…but considering this was a place full of people 20-25 years younger than myself (I’m 47) they would have preferred someone more their own age. Mind during the phone interview I did ask about the culture, and based on what I was told I said I thought I would be a good fit and why.

    So I guess the real question is, should I give up aiming at start-up and smaller call centers? I’m sick of the corporate rigmarole that goes along with larger, older ones, but the start-ups are perceiving me as a poor fit ways I can’t determine, aside from the one that told me I was too ambitious. Any advice on what I can do/say/etc. differently?

    1. fposte*

      Honestly, nyx, I think it’s likely just to be percentages–I suspect that there are a lot of applicants for those jobs. I’ve noticed that you are very thoughtful about considering what you might be bringing to applications and how to better that, but I think it’s possible that you’re overdoing that. You’re actually getting a sufficiently varied group of responses that it really doesn’t point to you being too whatever or not enough something at any level of the process. You’re regularly getting phone interviews, and you’ve gotten, from the sound of it, two face-to-face interviews out of ten applications in a competitive field. That’s a pretty good response. I know that doesn’t get you rent money, but I think that there’s a risk of psychologically sabotaging yourself if you start to hunt for a reason peg to hang every rejection on.

      1. nyxalinth*

        So you’re saying I’m reading too much in to it? That’s likely true. I over-think on a lot of things! I’ll try to calm it down and not worry about the whys so much. Thanks :)

    2. Rana*

      From where I’m sitting, that seems like a good niche to be focused on – you’re getting interviews! Now, granted, you haven’t gotten an offer yet, but, hey, interviews! That means they’re seeing something in your resume and cover letters that’s appealing, and that seems to me to be a very good thing.

  21. How Can I Work Remotely...*

    I am in a place where I want to find work. But I have some limitations: I have to be able to follow my husband around since he’s the primary breadwinner and I need office-type work due to physical issues. I also prefer working for a company rather than self-employment, though I’m at the point where I might consider the latter.

    On the plus side, I have very good computer skills and a wide range of work background. On the negative side, we are currently living in the Tiniest City in the World (TM) and there is nothing available to me here. However, there is a university and, if needed, I could take classes toward a new career.

    The other day, a poster talked about their remote job. That sort of thing sounds perfect to me. I could continue a job like that even if we had to move (which would fix my short-term-only resume, I hope). The problem is, I have no idea about how one goes about getting a job like that or even what jobs have a high likelihood of being offered to perform remotely. Every job I’ve ever worked that has allowed people to work from home made those people work for years and years before they would even consider at-home work once a week. I’ve never even heard of a job like the poster from the other day was talking about, where no one works in the office.

    So, I’m asking the loyal AAM following…what sort of job do I need to get trained for to increase my chances of remote-only work (that is hopefully not a scam)?

    1. Gallerina*

      Oooh, have you considered the Travel Industry?

      My boyfriend works for a big corporate & leisure travel company and whilst he’s in Account Management, which is office based, a lot of the agents (who handle bookings for their clients) are home based and telecommute. It seems to be pretty popular across the industry and people come from a huge range of backgrounds.

      Maybe worth a look?

    2. KayDay*

      Generally speaking, the easiest way to get hired for remote work is to work for a company and then transition to remote work. Beyond that, I’ve noticed that the companies that have positions that hire virtual workers are either (a) really large companies that have many offices all over the country or (b) really tiny companies (start-ups, in particular) that have a lot of flexibility.

      As far as industries go, I’ve noticed that many accountants are able to work remotely, although those that I know have to travel to the client site often.

      1. Ali_R*

        Right! You can even check the box for telecommuting in your job search. Since your town has no jobs, check out nearby big town’s and work your way out. Well, that would be my method; since it’s telecommuting I suppose you could really start out and work in! ;-)

    3. Ali_R*

      There is a website that is devoted to the lower level, customer service type work from home jobs: If you research, there are companies that pay $12-$15/hr.

      Also, Kelly Services was doing some remote work. I think they were supplying employees for Apple. Speaking of, Apple offers at home positions if you’re within 100 miles of certain cities.

      As the other poster mentioned, travel. A few of the airlines have their reservation agents work from home. I noticed Alaska Air had a job opening for a home agent supervisor… I am guessing they must have home agents.

    4. Anonymous*

      In the nonprofit sector, Teach for America is almost completely remote (obviously not the teachers and local support staff, but national recruiting, admin and executive jobs are).

      1. Katie*

        Would TFA hire from outside? They always struck me as kind of a boys club (a boys club primarily populated by women, but you get what I mean).

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          My co-author is their former COO, and from what I understand, they have pretty rigorous hiring practices — so, yes, I’d think they hire from the outside.

          1. Katie*

            Ah, neat. I wouldn’t have guessed that. From a hiring perspective, what do you think of TFA? Would you hire an alum? Would you favor one over a traditional teacher?

        2. Anonymous*

          TFA does a LOT of internal recruiting and a very high proportion of junior-to-mid-level staff are alumni. It might be tricky to be hired at a junior position without being an alum.

          But at the management and executive levels, TFA has a widespread and rigorous recruiting protocol. Alums definitely have a leg up but plenty of non-alums are hired as well.

    5. How Can I Work Remotely...*

      Thank you everyone. I’m looking into the links/resources. Hopefully, I’ll have an update next Open Letter!

  22. Slightly Cynical*

    I’m currently in a full-time admin assistant role, and I’m also a writer. I want to move to a part-time admin role, but if I were completely honest with potential employers, I don’t think my reasons would be the right kind – it’s all about my convenience (I want more time to write, I’m happy to work admin but would prefer to be doing half days or three days a week to give my brain a rest from the monotony) not what benefit I would bring them. Given that I’m not looking for a job that can be argued to be a step up – it’ll likely be on the same pay grade – and I don’t have a ‘standard’ reason for wanting part time hours like having kids, health problems, or being unemployed, is there any good way to answer the question “why do you want to go from full to part time?” (Assuming they’ll ask it. I suppose they might not, but I think I’d be asking if I were hiring!)

    If I’m lucky enough to find a part time position in an area that is distinctive or engaging enough, I’ll be able to go for that angle – “I really want to work on X, even if it’s part time” – but a lot of the jobs I’m seeing at the moment are very much “more of the same” (many are in the same organisation) as what I’m doing now. Am I going to weaken my candidacy if they can’t see why I’d want to move to a part time position doing the exact same thing?

    (And just to be clear: I do not expect to become a bestseller or quit after six months. I’m expecting it to be five years minimum before I start seeing any sort of return on my writing, and I’m realistic enough to know that it might take longer. So I’m not looking for a part time job with the mindset of “it’s just for a few months until I BECOME FAMOUS” – I’m ready to settle in and pursue both halves of my work equally.)

    p.s. I’m in Europe so there are no issues of benefits/health insurance that would differ between full and part time.

    1. EM*

      I have a coworker who is part time because he also runs an annual film festival that takes much of his time. I really don’t think you need to explain why you want part time when applying for part time jobs.

    2. fposte*

      I’m with EM. Granted, I’m not as familiar with the workplace customs there, but I would think that “I have a creative project that takes a lot of time” would pretty much cover it.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I’d just be honest! Tell them you’re looking for part-time work to dedicate more time to an eventual career in writing.

      You could also seek administrative jobs that have a writing component, like a grantwriting assistant or something (this would be good whether you’re looking at fiction or non-fiction, grants are a mix between compelling narrative storytelling and persuasive factual writing). Then you could be honing your skills and getting paid to do it! I’ve seen part-time grant assisting gigs, too, so you could do a hybrid approach.

      1. Diane*

        Grantwriting completely depleted my writerly well. If I had it to do again, I’d take a non-writing job to keep my soul fresh for creative work.

    4. AlisonK*

      I’ve had several discussions along these lines with a friend who is a teacher in her “real” (paid) work, while writing in her own time.

      What I think you’re wanting to head off, without raising it as a big issue either, is the employer’s (potential) worry along the lines “why aren’t you trying to “progress” in your career?”, which means the expectation is that everyone wants more hours, more responsibility, more seniority, unless there is a “good reason”.

      So you can maybe offer reassurance that there’s a good reason you’re comfortable with less than full-time hours & routine (not “monotonous” or “mundane”) tasks, depending on the organisation/interviewer/kind of role, by maybe saying something like, “I’m excited about working for (organisation/role) for (whatever reasons); I’m a good fit because of (work experience/qualification reasons), and (not “but”) because I also have writing/creative project commitments, what you’re wanting fits really well with my personal schedule, so I’d like you to know I can make a solid commitment”.

        1. Rana*

          +1 It does lend an air of seriousness to the endeavor, and makes it clear this isn’t just a casual hobby.

  23. Anon for this one*

    A few months ago, I was tapped to replace someone in a volunteer role (I volunteered on a committee; the head of the committee stepped down after she had a baby). I expressed a few reservations to her, namely the time commitment and the fact that I knew the president of the organization and I had … well, let’s just say different personalities. (The woman I replaced doesn’t like him either.) I spoke with the president about my reservations about the time commitment (but not about the fact that I think he’s kind of creepy), and he assured me that it wouldn’t be a problem.

    You guessed it: I regret taking the appointment. As I feared, the president seems to think this is everyone’s full-time job. I spend double the amount of time that I agreed to. He’s constantly insisting that I attend these very expensive leadership summits and events and he once asked that I fund a project myself. I flatly said no. I work part-time right now and money is very, very tight, which he knows – I always say no to anything involving money and he gets attitudinal. I have a committee of volunteers that I like, but I can’t stand the actual board stuff. It’s good to keep my skills active – but in EVERY interview I have, when people see it on my resume, they express reservation about how much time it takes. It’s not “Oh, I know that organization, it’s great that you’re volunteering”; it’s [furrowed brow] “That must take a lot of time.” It does, and I simply don’t find it rewarding. As I’ve gotten to know the organization from the inside, I’m less enamored with it.

    I’ve told the president and VP, who I DO like, that it’s simply taking too much time, and that I’m not happy. They haven’t really said anything, nor have they adjusted the workload. Would it be terrible of me to step down? I’ve had a lot of very positive volunteer experiences, but this one isn’t.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Quit now and don’t look back. Seriously. They made you promises they didn’t keep and they’re not treating you well. You’re not being paid, so let this be an easy call.

    2. littlemoose*

      It certainly sounds like you’ve made a good effort to rectify this situation, with little effect. You’ve talked to the other people in charge and it hasn’t resulted in any changes. I know you might feel guilty about walking away, especially if it feels like it’s mostly due to a personality clash with one person. But, at the end of the day, this just is not working for you anymore. Your reasons are quite valid, and if you were asked about it in future interviews, an answer like “The expected time commitment was far more than what we had agreed upon” is truthful but diplomatic. If you still want to remain part of the organization, maybe you could tell your superiors that you want to move to a reduced role but still care about the organization’s mission and want to participate. If you feel like it’s really sticky, saying that you need a reduced commitment due to personal reasons might be an easier way out. Good luck!

      1. Anon for this one*

        Thanks for the advice, Alison and littlemoose. I do feel guilty about just walking away – as I said, I like the committee under me. I just got a new volunteer who looks really promising. Plus I’m one of those people whose work ethic sometimes gets her into trouble. I’m job-hunting, which they know (part of why I started volunteering with them was to network, and that hasn’t borne fruit), and I think I’d feel better about quitting if I were to get a new job and then say, well, the new job really needs to be my focus, so good luck to you.

        The rumor is that the president has a failing business and is having a hard time finding work so the organization is kind of all he’s got professionally, and I certainly empathize with the tough market – but that doesn’t mean he gets to dip into my pocket. It’s not just me – one person quit after a month, the person who filled in for the maternity leave of my predecessor hasn’t been seen since … but there are enough people on the board that seem to be cool with the president where I’m like “Am I crazy?”

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You could also just set boundaries: “I’m available for X hours per month and no more, and I’m uncomfortable being asked to spend my own money. If those terms work for the org, I’d love to stay on, but otherwise I should step down so you can find someone who can give you what you’re looking for.”

        2. JT*

          You don’t have to just walk away. You can either set some boundaries/conditions and stick to them, or you can give them notice that you’re leaving in X [X being at least 2] weeks and give them time to deal with it. If they can’t handle notice of several weeks, that’s there problem.

          Be firm and clear. They haven’t been clear and/or upfront with you, but if you are with them you’rd doing everything right.

  24. Job Seeker*

    I hear about other people interviewing and getting really good feedback on why they didn’t get the job, such as “we decided on someone with greater experience in X and Y areas.” However, when I’ve interviewed, I’ve only gotten the form “we decided on another candidate whose qualifications better fit our needs.” And I don’t know where I fell short or what extra experience or education I could get to make myself more competitive. How are these other people getting more feedback? Are they asking for it or are the interviewers giving it freely? BTW, I did ask for feedback once and the hiring manager never responded to my email.

    1. Jen*

      I always ask for feedback after interviews, in a respectful, kind way, and I never get it either. I think it just has to do with whether the hiring folks are willing to go out on a limb, or have the time, to offer it to you. I know, it can be so frustrating when you’re just looking for anything concrete or constructive to apply to your search as you move forward! I wonder if they also think there could be liability issues? You are not alone.

    2. Katie*

      “BTW, I did ask for feedback once and the hiring manager never responded to my email.”

      That might be your problem. If you only sent out one resume, would you expect to get hired? Follow up after every interview. You don’t have to me pushy – I usually reiterate my thanks for being considered, say that I would still be happy to work for them, and ask if there is anything I could do to make me a more viable candidate in the future. In other threads posters have mentioned that this kind of graciousness gets remembered when other positions open up.

      You’re not doing anything wrong if you don’t get a response – just see feedback as a bonus, and an indication of a hiring manager who liked you (which means that’s probably a good place to work!).

  25. Non-profit to private sector*

    I currently work in international education/non-profits in a larger city (about 5 years post college experience). Any idea on how to translate that into the private sector? This is going to sound kind of awful, but I basically need to switch to a field that makes more money. This doesn’t need to happen tomorrow, but in the next few years. I’m an only child and only grandchild, and have a large family that I’m going to be responsible for pretty soon. It’s sadly become clear to me that my current career path won’t be able to support them.

    Thanks for any guidance!

    1. Janet*

      You shouldn’t have too much trouble if you pick a similar industry for the for-profit. I used to work in non-profit health/nutrition and was able to get a job at a private sector nutrition/food company.

      Take a look at the companies that your non-profit works with or the companies that the Board of Directors sit on and see if there are any connections you can make there.

      I found my job because they’d sponsored a few events and I knew of a co-worker who had previously worked there. It’s really all about who you know and how you can prove that your experience would translate.

    2. Jamie*

      I have no experience with non-profits, but I would make sure you can easily articulate in an interview why you’re excited about changing sectors – more money is fine, but you want to make it clear that you’ll be comfortable.

      I worked with someone once who came from non-profit and has since successfully returned to that sector, but while she as working with me she was clearly uncomfortable in the for profit manufacturing sector. There was a lot of genuine angst on her part which, unfortunately, bled out in frequent comments about how we were wasting our lives doing work that doesn’t matter. Not feeling that it mattered definitely showed in her work.

      That was one person who was somewhat zealous, and is not representative of the multitude of people who easily transition between sectors. I only bring it up to point out that you may want to make sure you allay any concerns in an interview.

  26. changing my name for this question*

    So, this isn’t work-related, but since y’all usually have such good answers, how can I be nicer to my mom? I lose my temper with her and snap at her all the time. We’re grown, I’m not a teenager. She’s in her 60s but impulsive, talks incessantly and is silly (She’s also very kind, helpful, staunch defender of women and compassionate).

    1. KayDay*

      Do you still live with her? My mom and I were at each other’s throats when I lived at home, but once I started college and wasn’t home a lot we became really close. Our emotional closeness is inversely related to our physical closeness ;-P

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This may be overly dark for some, but … Think about what you’ll miss about her / appreciate about her when she’s gone. People typically think about that once it’s too late, and by doing it now, you can sometimes really change the dynamics and the relationship.

      1. Katie*

        This. I lost my mother almost a year ago exactly. We had a tempestuous relationship (to say the least), but her death was like this instant cloudburst of perspective. Her constant emails and texts sure don’t seem so annoying now.

          1. NewReader*

            May time ease that hard memory for you.

            It could be that he never even thought twice about you not answering. It could be that he focused on “I am proud of my hard working daughter. She must be working again!”

            After twenty years of carefully pairing up my husband’s clean socks, I found out he did not care if I did this task.
            Twenty years.

            We just don’t know what other people give no notice to.

            1. khilde*

              Wow, interesting point (like all of your recent points, NewReader – glad to have your voice in the comments!). That makes me interested in asking my husband what little thing I do for him matters most (or not!). And that thing about the parent thinking the daughter can’t answer the phone because she’s hard at work again– I believe that. Especially parents that generally don’t take everything personally when it comes to their adult kids’ behavior. They’ll find a good spin to put on it.

              1. NewReader*

                Thanks for the kind words, khide. You made me smile.
                I am still working on why a person would not want their socks all nicely paired and ready to go. I have not worked that through yet. I picture rummaging through the drawer every morning, struggling to find two similar socks…. late for work, AGAIN.
                Yeah, it is surprising what the spouse appreciates and what s/he takes no notice of. We really do take in the world through our own lens.
                Yes! I want my socks paired up, dog-gone-it. hahaha.
                But, it’s true too, I would have preferred spending time on things that were meaningful to him.

                Yes, I would think a parent tends to realize that an adult child will have to continue on without the parent at some point. That would cause the parent to look for reassurances that the child will be okay. A different lens….

    3. fposte*

      So what do you think actually causes you to snap at her? Are you snapping at her because you’re spending too much time with her, because you feel embarrassed by her being [characteristics], because you feel responsible for her, or because you think she should be different than she is? Do you snap at her in every conversation, or does it happen more often if you’re at your place or hers, or in the car, or with other people?

      Some possibilities are: focus on talking to her in the situations that make you less snappish (even my clueless father noted we always got into a fight when we went to a particular RV show, make of that what you will), or realize that nobody considers you responsible for training her. Obviously, acknowledge that people don’t change from having their heads bitten off and that the characteristics you’re talking about–which may be part and parcel of characteristics that gave her some real strengths as a parent–aren’t likely to change.

      Another thing you could consider doing: when you and she are having a calm time, say, “Mom, I know I snap at you sometimes, and I’m sorry. I’m trying to do better.” You may get a response that makes you realize you have bigger reasons than you’re acknowledging, or that it’s not as big to her as it is to you, or something else illustrative, but if this is bothering you enough to tell us, I think you might be relieved to have it out in the open with her.

      My family had a lot of strengths, but we were weird about anger, so there was a lot of snapping and a lot of pretending we weren’t doing it–which of course made small human irritations into something huge and scary. Being able to say it’s happening can often reduce it to its real sie.

    4. EM*

      I feel you. My mom and I are actually very close, but she can be annoyingly neurotic at times. She’s in her mid-60s, but I try to treat her the way I treated my grandmother. It’s really tough. It’s harder when I see my mom more often or spend a long visit together. I have a 5-year-old who needs firm rules and boundaries, and I understand that grandparents are supposed to spoil grandkids, but it’s really frustrating when they basically act like he’s in charge, which then makes the weeks after their visit brutal.

      Try to set boundaries as much as you can, and also remember the perspective that Alison mentioned.

      1. changing my name for this question*

        Thank you everyone. I will look at the link and also think through this situation. I get so upset because she makes really bad decisions (esp with money and her blood-sucking siblings) and likely has ADHD (runs in the family and my psychologist thought she exhibited the characteristics of a person with ADHD, which means that she’s impulsive and doesn’t listen. I just get really, really frustrated. I also think that she and I are alot alike so I know exactly what she’s thinking and implying.

        But this doesn’t help because I just get really mean and hate myself for it later. I do feel terrible when I do it for all of the reasons mentioned above.

        Thank you again everyone.

        1. fposte*

          Are you expected–or do you expect yourself–to clean up whatever messes get made? Because that’s something to bow out on, if so (easier said than done, I realize).

        2. NewReader*

          Ahhh… how about if you and mom read a book together about household budgeting? There are also columns online about household finances.

          A lot of household money issues happen simply because people don’t know the basics of how money can be handled.

          On the other hand, would she be interested in developing a new interest/hobby that you can share together. I am with the poster who asked if you live together. As I read through- my knee jerk was “someone needs to get out of the house more.” Perhaps you can find a way to inject new people/activities into mom’s life.
          Usually, when I get feeling as you describe it is because I am spending waaay too much time with one person and they are spending waaay too much time with me. Bringing something new into the relationship tends to break that cycle of getting on the ol’ nerves.

          1. changing my name for this question*

            No, we don’t live together but speak often. I’m also responsible for fixing many of her mistakes or she asks for my advice and then doesn’t take it.

            I need to set boundaries and not get so frustrated but it’s difficult. I was thinking that maybe something, like a mantra, to get me to remember to be kind.

              1. changing my name for this question*

                The NLP link was really great, thank you. Will be reading through this website. I definitely do this. I am very in tune with her so even her voice shifting makes me mean (and vice versa).

                I’ve also talked to my brother about this, who also has very gently pointed out that I don’t draw boundaries.

            1. Rana*

              If you’d like a mantra, here’s one I encountered back in my 20s, and I still use it sometimes, so maybe it will help you too.

              “It’s not your shit; it’s theirs.”

              Basically, it’s about stepping back and seeing what people are saying or doing, and asking yourself, “Is this really about me? Or is this something to do with them?”

              You can work it in terms of responsibility, for example: “Is this really my responsibility? Or am I picking up this “shit” because I think it needs to be picked up but they’re not doing it?” If it’s their shit, you don’t need to pick it up. But if you do pick it up, it’s now yours. So ask yourself: “Do I really want this to be my responsibility?” If not, don’t pick it up.

              Or you can use it to remind yourself that people do all kinds of weird shit in life, and, nine times out of time, it has nothing to do with you per se, but rather with what’s going on in their own life and head. (This one works really well with random strangers being strange on the bus, for example, but it can help you be kind to family when they are being pains, too.)

              1. Rana*

                So, for example, in the case of giving your mother advice:

                When she asks for it, but then didn’t doesn’t take it? Well, that’s not your shit, that’s hers — both in the sense that whatever’s leading her to ignore it isn’t any of your responsibility, and in the sense that you’ve given it to her, and it is now hers, not yours, to do with as she wishes.

                1. NewReader*

                  Can you turn the situation on its head?

                  “Why do you ask, Mom, you know you won’t use my advice anyway?” Some people are able to take an idea like this an make a very humorous remark. Think about taking a preemptive stance.

                  On the inside, you could say to yourself “If a friend of mine did this, how would I react?” The answer would be probably “I would react with more detachment. Their life, not mine.” (Variation on Rana’s suggestion.) This is hard with the parents because we feel a level of obligation to them that we do not feel with other people.

                  Alternatively, you could train your brain to respond “yes, Mom, if you do X then Y will happen.” -just flat, non-emotional statements of the obvious. “Yes, Mom, if you spend all your money at the casino, then you will not have enough money to pay the mortgage. That is how that goes.”

                  Sometimes the best we can do with the parents is damage control. Watch for con artists, household dangers etc.
                  Very painful to watch. And most certianly, a huge life lesson.
                  Just make sure you do not get your finances mixed in with hers. (Our spending patterns follow our emotional patterns. Sounds like your mom is already doing this with family members– giving them money based on her emotions, not based on logic.)

                  Keep an eye over the next few years. If this behavior gets worse, you might want to take her to a doctor.

                2. changing my name for this question*

                  I worry about her mental well being too, by the way. My brother, who treats her like a child (by his own admission), has a GREAT relationship with her.

                  Thanks everyone, these links look very helpful. I really appreciate it.

        3. Kelly O*

          Sometimes I still have to remind my mom that although I really appreciate her wanting to help, sometimes I just have to do things myself, or deal with them in my own way.

          There is one issue in particular that Mom has no way of relating to, but she always wants to offer advice or tell me what she thinks the husband and I ought to do about it. I get frustrated, and find some way to tell her, as respectfully as I can, that it’s really hard to deal with this anyway, and change the subject.

          I just change the subject, or try to, when it gets into one of those touchy areas.

          On the flip side, my husband has this three-day rule with his mom. Our stays with her and hers with us need to be no longer than three days. At that point she is unstoppable wanting to talk politics, religion, child-rearing, whatever is controversial and makes her look smarter than some people, because she is the one with the advanced degrees. So, three days, that’s it. We head home or she heads home. It really does work. I dodge potential bullets the whole time, and am sure to reward myself nicely when I go a whole visit without wanting to yank my hair out, or push someone off of something tall on to something pointy.

    5. Job Seeker*

      It will never change. I am a middle-age mom of three college age children and a daughter of a senior citizen. I have a wonderful relationship with all my children, but they do sometimes feel annoyed with me too. I have my mother living with my family for a while and I find myself getting annoyed by things she does too. I have decided to overlook. I am helping her get some medical things done, she is a widow. Take this from a mom, we get annoyed with our children too. I believe to just remember to try to make good memories with each other. Remember the song To every thing turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn. Life is so short, sometimes we make the unimportant more important. We forget the things that will matter in the long run. Choose wisely.

  27. E*

    Quick, and probably stupid, overly-thought-about question: If I’m applying to a job that asks for references up front, and one of my references is from a job I held pre-grad school (left it 2.5 years ago) but still very relevant to my current job search, and said reference is currently holding a position at a difference organization in a different state, should I list that person’s current position, and then *formally xx position at xx company (which is listed on my resume) so that the hiring manager will be able to connect what my connection to that reference is?

    That probably made no sense, so appreciation in advance to anyone who can decipher this.

    1. Anon*

      I’d say list it if you think the previous position is more relevant than the reference’s current one. Just make sure it fits formatting wise.

    2. Meg*

      I would list the reference as “Former Supervisor at Mutual Company.” It’s my understanding that it’s irrelevant where they work now, but your connection, and the “former” can be understood that they used to work there, but no longer (as it’s a given that most of your references would be your former supervisors or coworkers, but that implication works as well).

    3. fposte*

      I think that’s a fine way to do it. I think you definitely want to include the title that was relevant to the reference experience, and including the current position gives a little context in case people see a different email domain or dial a work number and are baffled if a different company answers.

  28. awkward-town*

    Hey all!

    I worked at my first job out of college for 3 years. The last year I felt increasingly underpaid, taken advantage of, and unsatisfied. I put myself out there in the job market and had multiple interviews, offers, and wonderful comments about my work, and I accepted an offer at a great company.

    I was able to give my boss 3 weeks notice, and we did all of the interviews together. It became clear that he lucked out with me, and that none of the people we interviewed would have all of my skills. He settled on someone and I trained her for a week, which was very stressful because she didn’t pick anything up.

    2 weeks into my (wonderful) new job, my boss calls me to tell me he’s firing the replacement, and would I come back for a higher salary and benefits (I was hourly, no benefits, and am getting these things from the new job). The more I think about it, the more it makes me angry.

    we talked yesterday and he is hiring someone new, but asked me to help out this saturday at a big event, since there’s no way the new person will be able to do everything, and know everything with no training.

    1. how do I make sure I get paid for “helping” on saturday, and not get walked all over like usual? 2. do i say something about how rude I found his extremely delayed counteroffer?

    thank you!!

    1. Meg*

      1. Get it in writing, and make sure you are comfortable with whatever rate you are charging as your consultancy fee. Since you are not a current employee, you are under no obligation to do this event on Saturday. Definitely state your consultancy fee, which should be considerably higher than your hourly wages.

      2. Eh, it’s up to you. It could burn some bridges, but my advice would be to just thank him for the offer, but tell him you’re staying with Other Company.

    2. Anna*

      1) Don’t say, “yes, I’ll be able to work Saturday.” Say “I normally don’t take on side consulting projects, but I may be able to fit this into my schedule. My consulting rate is $XX per hour (where XX is at least twice the hourly rate you make at your current job). How many hours would you like to hire me for?”

      2) Don’t. First of all, it’s not actually rude to make someone an offer for more money once you realize that you actually need them more than you realized you did before. And second, even if it were rude, it doesn’t benefit you at all to say anything. Keep your feelings out of it and preserve the reference.

      1. K.*

        I completely agree with this. You don’t work there anymore; you’re not obligated to care about their problems. You don’t have to work Saturday if you don’t want to. If you DO want to, phrase it exactly as Anna suggested and make sure they put it in writing. I do freelance work and I don’t work without a contract. (I did some work for a very close relative and I still got it in writing – and they happily obliged.) If they balk at your hourly rate or, worse yet, paying you at all, do not do the work. Don’t let them talk you down, either.

        And definitely don’t call them out on the counter-offer. It won’t get you anywhere.

    3. LCL*

      No. No no and no. Don’t work Saturday. Forget about the counteroffer, and forget about this company. You have disengaged with them by finding a better job. You are finished with them. Be civil and professional in your dealings with them, but don’t get sucked back in. You feel attached to them because it was your first job and a big part of your life. That part is done.

      1. JT*

        Work if you have the time and make the amount you’ll be paid worth your time. Say something like “I’d be happy to help, but you should know that I charge $X/hour for my time, for a minimum of (4 hours). If that fit’s your budget, I’ll be there. Let me know.”

        Forget the anger about the belated counter-offer. Just make some money.

    4. Katie*

      I’d make it incredibly clear up front. You aren’t working there anymore, so you aren’t depending on that guy for your survival. Ask: “will I be earning my previous hourly rate for this Saturday? How will we set up payment?” If he hems and haws, play hardball. You’re essentially an independent contractor at this point, and you deserve to be paid.

      I wouldn’t say anything about his crappy counter offer. This guy sounds like a piece of work, and it’s not your job to take him to school.

      1. Reva*

        This almost identical situation happened to me (minus asking me to take my job back, but they did fire my replacement and wanted me to consult until they found someone new). You need to be firm about your hourly rate and only help if you’re comfortable/confident it won’t interfere with your new job. My old boss always talked about how every company needs to have a “hit by a bus plan.” As in, my boss gets hit by a bus – how do we continue functioning w/a key member missing? So even though you were obviously not hit by a bus, they need to figure out a way to function w/o you. It’s their problem, not yours. But do what makes you comfortable and preserve the reference.

    5. Avig*

      Seems like you are getting a mixed response. From my experience, if you liked your previous boss/co-workers/job (besides the pay of course) and you left in good terms, I would agree that getting it in writing with $X amount that is higher than what you were paid when you worked there is fine.

      However, if you don’t see yourself facing your old co-workers or boss again, then don’t and be polite about it since you don’t want to burn that bridge still. You can say something like your new job has obligations that you need to fulfill during that weekend of the event.

    6. Another Emily*

      I think it’s a trap. Run away! His bad hire is not your emergency. :)

      I know this sounds harsh, but hey. You have a new job. It’s great, and you love it. I think you should focus on that and say thanks but no thanks to working on Saturdays.

      Do you really want to have only 1 day off per week, to help out your old job? They will find a way to survive. They thought of you first because you’re awesome, but if you don’t help them they’ll think of another solution. Just because you’re the first solution they thought of doesn’t mean you’re the only one.

  29. Sandrine*

    Thanks for the Open Thread!

    I need some help (e-mails are welcome too if you feel like it) . As some people know, I work as a CSR for a phone company. I’ve been here 11 months now, and I’m totally burnt out.

    Today’s first evaluation of the month proved it: my boss listened to a call from this morning (started at 8 AM, call was at 8:20) and I sounded like a robot. It was horrible, I didn’t cry from it but it was very, very discouraging. Now, I don’t always sound like a robot (otherwise my boss wouldn’t say so many nice things about me, I guess!) but it’s very telling that he stumbled upon that kind of call today.

    We both came to the realization that this is not the kind of job for me. I’m more of a direct contact with customers kind of person (and I told him that yes, I am sure I am NOTHING in person like what I am on the phone – heck, I lasted a year in Disney!) . Fortunately for me, my company has decided that actual stores are a good idea, and on the ground floor we now have a brand new shop that I’d LOVE to work in. I applied as anyone else would, and my boss then told me to apply within the internal system so they’d take my CSR experience into account (it should matter since I’ve been with the mobile service since its launch :D ) . Boss even sent another e-mail today as he hadn’t heard from the HR lady in about a week.

    I even told my boss I’m not even sure how long I will last after my vacation in December. I am committed to doing the best job I can do until the end, but quite frankly, right now even if I broke an actual leg it might make me happier than to go to work (no, I won’t actually try and get it broken, I’m not that desperate, I promise :) ) .

    So I guess the cry for help is this : how did you manage to survive in a job where you KNEW it wasn’t for you ? How did you get out of it ? Are you in a better job now ? I need to know “happy” stories.

    (There was a cute thing today though: Mom got conned by my sisters. She let a kitten enter her place… and my sisters won’t let her let it out :P . A young kitten, too, so today I laughed at Mom and said “heh I guess you have a new cat :D !” … I told them to call it Morpheus or Snape haha XD )

    1. Anon*

      1. Focus on getting a new job. Jobsearching, practising interview techniques, redoing a CV/resume – by putting time and effort into trying to change the situation, it’ll be less hellish as you’ll be doing something about it.

      2. Get involved in a hobby, or volunteer work. Your job doesn’t have to define who you are – focus your energies on doing something you enjoy. That way, whilst you’re at work you’ve got something to look forward to that evening/weekend/whatever.

      1. Kelly O*

        Definitely agree with this. Put forth as much effort as you can into working toward your solution.

        When I have really frustrating days, I go home and edit a resume, or do something related to my job search. It helps me feel more empowered. Which sounds really corny I know, but it helps.

    2. littlemoose*

      Anon above has some good suggestions. I think starting or refocusing your job search may be helpful because then you feel proactive and working to change it. That helps you feel that it is temporary, and makes it easier to tolerate. And it sounds like you have some good insight into why this job is not a good fit for you, which will also help you in the future. I went through a long period of extremely depressing underemployment myself, so I know how it is. But I am sure there will be a good opportunity for you out there, especially with Alison’s excellent advice (if I had found this site before I finally got my job, I’m sure that period of underemployment would have been much shorter). All the best to you!

    3. EngineerGirl*

      Try to find parts of the job you like and reframe them. For your CSR job, you actually have people calling you for help. Think of yourself as SuperHero Sandrine – out to conquer the evil thugs of snags and confusion.

      I admit that it is really hard when it all becomes mind-numbing. That is why it is important to take small parts of the greyness and turn it into a game.

      I actually did that for a job that I thought was beneath me. When I finally gave myself over to doing the best, no matter what, I saw opportunities I could take That job gave me a great reputation at my company, and the experience has been a discriminator for 2 of my next jobs. Who would have thought!

      1. Sandrine*

        Funny thing is, I did tell Boss I don’t think anything is beneath me… and part of my problem is that I do try to act as SuperHero Sandrine haha XD … which is the reason why I know the job isn’t fit for me :P .

        If they transfer me to the shop, it should be good though. I’ll cross fingers for that and when that’s done I’ll try to redo my CV/resumethingie haha.

    4. Diane*

      Hi Sandrine,

      I worked for a major finance firm on Wall Street before moving to France last year and knew I wanted out. Between the commute and the monotonous job, I felt like I was dying inside.

      The first thing I did was find things that really made me happy outside of work so I took French lessons and also signed up for a tennis partner. That way, I had something to look forward to outside of work. I also visualized in my head what “happy” would look and feel like and just reminded myself of that each time I’d had a tough day. Most importantly, I took ACTION to get myself out of my current situation. I hate when people complain and don’t “own” their life and take steps to make it better. I networked like crazy with everyone I knew, considered other career options and made lists of all my skills.

      In time, things worked out and I transitioned into a different career. But if I hadn’t worked hard at it, I’d still be there on Wall Street and not in France.

      So what I’m saying is, only you can change your current situation. And if you want it badly enough, you will. ;-)

      Also, as an aside, I really enjoy your comments and getting perspective about France. I wonder if you work for Bouygues lol. Having a major battle with them now and am trying to get a free iPhone. That’s the least they can do after the crap we’ve endured!

      Feel free to contact me thru my blog linked to my name there…

    5. Vicki*

      You go home at the end of the day and leave the job at work.
      You cry a lot.
      You talk to your friends.
      You do other things in the evenings and weekends – things you enjoy. Go out or stay in, read or watch a movie. Whatever you can to make you happier.
      You take a lot of deep breaths.
      You set up a calendar and mark off the days.
      You apply for other jobs outside the company. Get your resume in order. Start now.
      If you have any more vacation time stacked up, take it.
      If possible, take one day a week. Or a half day. (Taking Wednesday afternoon off can do wonders for your mental health).

      Good luck.

      1. Sandrine*

        Vacation is in December. That’s actually a small joy I’m looking forward to.

        Wait, no. That’s actually THE BEST THING EVER I’m looking forward to as I’m FINALLY going to be able to see some family members again.

        (In the US, you have New York to Los Angeles. In France, I have Paris to Saint Denis of Reunion Island LOL – to give you an idea, no even sure if the distance is the same though XD)

    6. A Teacher*

      Worked for a horrible company in my first field of training about 4 years and the final straw was after a year end review where they lowered everyone’s eval scores by making the eval system harder but couldn’t explain the change in scores or the way to get them back up. That was the final straw, I had already been looking and actually took a job working at alternative school with expelled and suspended kids. I only gave six days notice, fortunately in my first field of study I serve on some big deal committees and have a decnt size network so burning a few bridges was okay. My mother told me I seemed so much happier getting cussed out and having weapons pulled on me on a regular basis than in my old job.

      I’ve since moved on and work in a great school and still use my first field or study on a part time contract basis. Focusing on the fact that there was an eventual out is what got me through a horrible job situation.

      1. Sandrine*

        Oh my the lower eval score thing!

        They had average call time set at X. I was at X + 2 minutes for months, which was horrible. The moment I get close to X… they make it X minus 30 seconds. I was quite mad.

        And then, they added a new stat which means that I’m nowhere near getting any kind of bonus before December, I guess. Unless I magically snap out of it just like I did in the beginning of August (but Boss was on vacation… hmmmmmmm… ) .

        Thank you all for the kind comments by the way. It helps to have other perspectives, thank you.

  30. Anon In Houston*

    To make a long story story short: I transitioned to a new manager in January put in place by the VP, so that he could gain experience in two areas that he had no knowledge of. Also, my manager is well known for having poor interpersonal skills. (This is confirmed by multiple managers I spoke with in confidence, my old boss who is a director and other people in our organization who have had to deal with him) The team I am on is 4 people who have that experience. I’ve onboarded my new manager as best I could, however I was written up (beginning of April) after he’d been managing me for 3 months, not because of my work product but because he claimed I’d been rude. I submitted a 2.5 written rebuttal to his claims, went to dispute resolution for tips on how to deal with him and tried to move on. I started looking for a new job and at the follow up meeting with HR in May, he reported that he was pleased with my “attitude” and my work product. Life moved on, I have kept looking for a new job and tried to deal with him best I can. In July, my organization requires everyone to have an informal PPR review. So we sat down and he assigned due dates to some deliverables I have responsibility for and took the dates out to the end of the year. No issue there either. In August, for one of the deliverables I had due, he took issue with the amount of turnaround time I gave our project managers to get some info back to me. We had an email exchange about it where I explained my rationale to him and also the other tasks that I was working on that I had been assigned. I asked that we sit down and talk about it to see if he had flexibility about the due date for the deliverable. We did, and he informed me that there was no flexibility on my due dates. I think the case is closed and we are done. I went on vacation this past week (and there was back and forth on that as well, as I tried to determine when I could go and asked for guidance on that from him) and when I logged into my email from home, I saw a meeting notice with him and our HR rep with the title “Discussion – PPR Due Dates”. WTF???

    I’m at my wits end with this dude. I try to keep my interactions with him professional, there is no small talk or other type of chit chat with him and I try to document our interactions by email whenever possible. I am not fond of him and I am sure he’s not fond of me either, but I do my work well and have the leverage of knowing the subject matter better than he does, but no one is replaceable.

    Am I being fired tomorrow?? Any tips on what do say or do?? How to cope with him??

    1. EM*

      I doubt you’re about to be fired. This actually sounds a lot like my husband’s job. He’s given up on telling white lies to protect his superiors, so now when he’s asked, “why is product Q late?” he responds, “Because so-and-so directed me to focus on x and y” or “Because I was told to rework product Q at this stage, and then was later told by same person to change it back to the way I had initially done it, adding x weeks to the turnaround time.”

      Sometimes you realize you are working with irrational people that are impossible to work with. It’s really tough, but the only thing you can do is to continue to be professional while also setting boundaries and not letting management walk all over you while you look for another job. It’s easy to get in a cycle of endless venting, but after a while venting makes you feel worse. Try to limit yourself to a certain amount of time to vent each day and then make a decision to stop thinking/talking about it.

      Try to find ways to relax, get a massage, go for hikes, exercise, yoga, go out with friends.

    2. fposte*

      Can’t guess about the firing for you, of course, but there’s obviously a real clash going on there. Now if you’ve got a pretty good chance of moving on (or him of moving on–it sounded like this might be temporary), you may not want to invest much time in appeasement or improving the work relationship. However, this might also be a good opportunity to do so, if you’re interested, and to do so by honestly thinking about–and discussing–some changes that you could make to help the two of you work together better. If you’d rather eat ramen then do that, well, there you go.

  31. Elizabeth West*

    Hope everyone is having a good holiday weekend. Sitting at LAX waiting to go home from a trip to the Hollywood Bowl to see / hear John Williams. $7.95 for wifi, but I can’t sit here without internet–I’ll die. :)

    1. KayDay*

      Ha! I recently paid $12 on Delta about 1/3 of the way into a cross country flight because the interent withdrawal symptoms were getting too strong!

  32. JamieG*

    I just need to vent for a minute. I work as a receptionist-type at a retail store, and people keep (rudely) calling to check on their applications. Do they not realize that I tell hr and the managers when they’re being rude? Unnemployment sucks, and phone tag is annoying, but it isn’t my fault! I’m starting to run out of patience with these people.

    1. Dani*

      A rude candidate needs to be reported to the hiring manager; don’t feel bad about that. I’ve been super desperate for a job before, but that’s when I turned on the charm, not became rude!

      Just please remember not to equate every annoying caller as rude. Some people may have offers from another company, but really want to work for yours, or they may be thisclose to losing their car/home/phone access.

      I had to deal with this when I was hiring for a student assistant. I work in a college library in a pretty affluent area, but some students really needed a job. It annoyed me to no end, so I totally understand where you’re coming from.

    2. Lily*

      You play a very important role in the hiring process! I wouldn’t want to hire someone who sucks up to me but is rude to others.

    3. Avig*

      I was a receptionist once and I found it annoying to get a few calls every hour to “check on the status of their application.” I now know how HR people must feel about that and how seriously one should take AAM’s advice on not to do that.

      And when I tell them to just come in for the open interview we have on friday’s each week, some of them take their time and are very slow to write down our address.

    4. Kelly O*

      Also, keep in mind that you’re getting all the calls.

      That person who calls may not realize the volume of applications you get, and to that one person, it’s just one call. You’re getting the effects of three dozen people (or more) who all just want to check on an opening.

      Also bear in mind that there are a lot of not-so-great “career experts” out there who are telling people that in this market they need to be aggressive, or “proactive” or whatever they’re labeling it. Those people may not intend to be rude, they’re just following the script they’re given.

      Or, they are on unemployment and are somewhere that requires them to show every call, or document all the work they’ve done toward finding a job. They may not want to pester, but they don’t have a ton of choice.

      Part of being a receptionist is learning to tactfully deal with difficult people. Sometimes it’s pushy salesmen. Sometimes it’s applicants checking on resumes. Sometimes it’s people calling when an ad clearly states “no phone calls, please.”

      I’m not saying it’s not frustrating. Just remember your own attitude, and determine if someone is truly being rude, or you’re just perceiving it differently because you’re getting every call.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah — and also, even those of us who tell people not to call to follow up on their applications (like me) still make an exception for retail and food service … because if I don’t, I hear from retail and food service managers telling me that the follow-up calls are effective in those industries!

        1. Kelly O*

          Plus eleven billion.

          I say this working in retail, albeit on the back side. This whole retail world is beyond bizarre, especially when you get into more niche markets. It’s all about who you know and who they know and how you know them… crazy.

          Retail is a whole other demon and I’m not surprised to hear food service is similar.

  33. HelensTwin*

    I just want to throw y’all a thank you. I am in my first management job (other than, you know, a Jamba Juice in the mall), which is also my first professional job out of grad school. From the day I started, I had serious issues with an employee (she neglected to greet me, her new supervisor, when she clocked in my first day). My boss and HR knew she was an issue, but we’re a city department and there was no documentation anywhere, so it wasn’t a DTMFA situation. I had NO IDEA how to deal with this situation, and I spent a LOT of time reading Ask a Manager for back up.
    It wasn’t a cut-and-dried “she’s a terrible person.” She was young, had never had another job, and had never had a supervisor who made it clear that she needed to do things like show up on time, dress appropriately, be polite to customers, not give management orders, etc. It was not easy for me, a new manager, to figure out how to deal with her “YOU DON’T TRUST ME!!!!” response to any supervision at all. I had trouble emotionally removing myself from it and reminding me that she was untrained, and young. I really had to learn to remind myself that from her point of you, I was a terrible micromanaging boss who hated her and was taking away this secure thing she’d had for years, while to me she was just not competent at the job for which she was being paid.
    There are stories I don’t really want to make public on the internet that I wish I could tell you guys because, holy crap. I work in a field that, uh, attracts the eclectic personalities, and my professional friends are HORRIFIED by some of the stunts this woman pulled.
    Anyway, my boss was super supportive, and I read a lot of Ask a Manager, and a few weeks ago Problem Employee quit. she gave 15 minutes notice, and left no info on how to do all the things she hadn’t wanted me to supervise before, and I’m sure she thinks she effed me over, but. . . I’m so excited. I didn’t really believe this situation would resolve itself in a way that didn’t involve a lot of disciplinary action and grievance hearings, and I didn’t realize how exhausting it was until it was over.
    I honestly don’t think I could have handled this situation with anywhere near as much grace and without getting myself in trouble with HR if it hadn’t been for Alison and the commenters here. You guys are my go-to, and maybe the reason I got through my first year as a manager without major missteps. THANK YOU.

    1. EM*

      Sounds like she did you a favor! Now all you have to do is go through the hiring process. :) Good for you for holding her feet to the fire.

      1. HelensTwin*

        She did me a huge favor, and I learned a lot about how to document, go through the disciplinary procedure, work through grievance hearings (although it was a grievance about the color of her jeans, so. . .) and how to separate my personal dislike for someone from their performance/lack thereof. I feel like she’s going to make for great interview fodder somewhere down the line, as long as I can talk about it without whining, gossiping, etc.

    2. fposte*

      It’s tough when you really want them to learn and succeed, but in the words of Tim Gunn, “I can’t want you to succeed more than you do.”

    3. Anony*

      Wait a minute, you stated in your first few sentences that you are upset with her because “she neglected to greet you, you as the new supervisor.” It sounds like you are being egocentric about yor new position and you may be the one with the problem.

      1. HelensTwin*

        Nope. I manage a very small staff, and we spend a looot of time working very closely together. On my first day, the smart and professional thing to do, whether I was her new direct supervisor or just a new co-worker, would have been to walk up, greet me and introduce herself or at the very least not walk by twice while refusing to make eye contact.

        1. Colette*

          Unless she was shy, or expected you to seek her out when she had time, or was an introvert who didn’t have the energy to talk to a stranger, or was having a bad day , or …

          If you had “serious issues” with her off the bat because she didn’t greet you the way you would have liked to have been greeted (or the way you would have greeted someone else), I’m not sure the issue was on her side.

          You may have had legitimate issues with her, but expecting someone to meet your unspoken assumptions is not a good way to start.

          1. Jamie*

            This. And this is a yet another reason why new people should be introduced on their first day. If someone had come up and introduced you there would be this issue of who should have said hello first.

            I don’t go around introducing myself to every new person I see at work – so if they ever hire a new boss for me and don’t bother to introduce me I guess I’m in trouble.

            1. Kelly O*

              Totally agree. I had a hard time reading the rest of it when the whole “didn’t greet me on the first day, and I’m her supervisor” thing.

              I would think, and having never been a supervisor or manager I may be way off on this, but as the supervisor/manager, the greater impetus is on you to reach out and greet your team, get to know them, and let them know you’re there.

              I have, many times, not said anything to a new person on her first day. There are so many factors that can play in to the first day, or week, or whatever period of time being completely hectic, I tend to err on the side of “when I feel like that person has quick minute, I’ll duck in and say hello.”

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, I agree with this. I’m sure the other issues were legitimate, but I wouldn’t have a problem with someone not greeting me on my first day. Plenty of people are shy or whatever.

        2. Jill of All Trades*

          Um, the responsibility for greeting was on both of you. The smart and professional thing for you to have done would have been to greet her and introduce yourself. Being the new supervisor, the responsibility is more on you to introduce yourself to the team and get to know them. You’re coming in to their dynamic. She might have thought that you were really rude to have not introduced yourself or greeted her on your first day. That could have led her to think that you didn’t like her, which can feel hostile. Could that have clouded the experience for both of you and led to the negative environment/behavior, which then got compounded by the documentation, etc?

          You know, some people are just incredibly shy, and the coping mechanism comes off as aloof or rude. As a manager, you should have taken this into consideration and made an effort toward a less acrimonious environment by taking the initiative to greet her, get to know her and let her get to know you, and observe her without the knowledge that she was an undocumented “problem”. You listed her not greeting you as a “serious issue” for you, but your failure to greet her might have been an even more serious issue for her. It sounds like you may not have separated your personal feelings about her from her performance issues as much as you think.
          I’m not there and it’s hard to guess from the outside, but think back carefully on this: if you had taken a different approach on the first day and created an environment that demonstrated that you wanted to work with her, instead of an impression that you didn’t like her and you were going to push her out, how could things have been different? Would she have opened up to you and accepted coaching?

    4. Rana*

      Heh. If the stories about her are good ones, you could submit them to one of the Not Always Right sites. :)

  34. Anonymous*

    I’m currently job hunting.

    Do you guys have any advice on re-applying to a company that you were laid off from several years ago?

    The role is somewhat similar to what I did previously. Most of my colleagues whom I worked with have moved on to other companies. The company had decent pay, good PTO and other benefits. When I was laid off, I was offered no notice and a very small severance package.

    Do I just go ahead and apply, see what happens and figure that I can always turn the job down if I am not happy with their offer (if we even get to that part.)?

    1. Anon*

      I’d do just what you said in your last paragraph, and if you’re sure this is a place you might want to work, then include a couple of sentences in your cover letter on why you want to return despite being laid off. I wouldn’t mention anything about the notice/severance package though. That’s something you’ll need to decide if you can let go in order to work there again.

    2. Vicki*

      From what I learned in a recent thread, one thing you should not do is contact the hiring manager and say you’d be a great candidate because you already know the company and products. :-(

  35. Katie*

    The past year of my life/career has been pretty tumultuous, so in an effort to find some stability, I recently took an full time contractor position with no benefits and underwhelming pay. On the bright side, it’s work from home, very flexible, and would put a new marketable skill set on my resume. Plus, the CEO is really kind, satisfied with my work thus far, and was open to revisiting pay in the future (no specifics). These are all great things, but I’m not sure if they’re enough to make up the difference, and I would be lying if I said the pay didn’t bother me on an emotional level too. So I guess my question is – how long should stick with this before reevaluating? Any tips on not letting your pay/job influence your self worth?

    1. TootSEAroll*

      Having been in your position before (being in several unsatisfying, and underpaid positions) I would suggest sticking with it as long as you can, or at least until you find something satisfying. This position could be a good way to get all the things you need to get done to spice up your job search, and continue to make money. Plus if your supervisor is satisfied with your work then they would make a good reference, if you do not burn any bridges.

    2. fposte*

      Can you reevaluate while you’re still there? Or is the question not really about reevaluating but quitting?

      Maybe you can consider this like a paid internship–you’re getting a useful skill and resume line, even if the pay is limited. And those are generally finite, so you could look at it as a year stint, say, while you keep your eyes peeled for other possibilities and commit to learning as much as you can; that’s a good solid amount of time to prove your value and to base a request for a higher rate on. And if it’s an internship, it’s not a comment on your worth but a commitment to your development (and a commitment you can make in your jammies, so…sweet).

      1. Katie*

        Thanks for the comments – I’m trying my best to remember the opportunities this job does offer, rather than dwell on the ones it doesn’t.

        When I negotiated the offer, the CEO seemed open to revisiting this as the company grew in the next year, but at the same time wasn’t willing to budge at the outset. While that’s fair, especially because I haven’t done this type of work before, it’s still hard for me to go back to making what I earned straight out of college. I can’t help but see it as a setback. I think that is what I’m struggling with here, more than anything. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really grateful for this job, but I worry that I’m either a) selling myself short, or worse, b) not worth as much as I had hoped, salary wise.

        1. fposte*

          The thing is, those are hard to know in any case, and you might as well have some income while you do your research. And neither of them are permanent, so maybe you can set some general development goals, whether it be networking or conference attendance or learning new software, to enhance your value in future.

          I don’t think there’s any way around the chill when you’ve had to accept a lower income than you’d expected, but I don’t think it’s personal in this economy–I suspect that nobody at that company is making what they were hoping to.

  36. Kathy*

    At my current job I have 4 weeks vacation, 2 weeks sick, and 1 week personal time. I am being offered a job with 2 weeks vacation and only 3 days sick a year, but it pays 10k more. Which would you choose?

    1. Vicki*

      Do you _like_ your current job?
      What is making you look elsewhere?
      Do you tend to get colds every winter?
      What are your priorities?

      For me, time off beats $ every time. Not everyone feels that way.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      As someone pointed out here recently, $10,000 annually is about $7,500 after taxes. This is $625/month. Are you willing to be paid $625/month to give up about five weeks off each year?

    3. EM*

      Yes, what is more important to you, time off or $$, all things being equal? I actually took a job working part time with no benefits for the flexibility and time off. Time off is unpaid, but I can basically take as much time as I want (within reason and while keeping my commitments, of course).

      My last job had a dismal time off policy; we had 2 weeks of “paid time off” per year until you were there for 5 years. That was sick time and vacation time rolled into a measly 2 weeks. Pretty dismal, even compared to industry standards. It sucked being the only one in the office (because other coworkers had been there for 5 or more years) the day before and after Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. because I didn’t have enough time off due to things like attending out of town weddings, or funerals, or being sick a day here or there. Forget taking a “real” vacation.

      1. V*

        I just came out of the same situation. Absolutely ridiculous. I ended up having to take half of a planned vacation unpaid because my grandmother had died a month before and I needed to take time off for the funeral. My other option would have been to take the funeral time unpaid, which I wasn’t prepared for. Instead, I had to prepare for a partially unpaid “vacation.”

        Poor small business owners…

    4. KayDay*

      If you want to be objective about it, figure out your daily rate, factoring in vacation and see which job pays more per day.

      Also, do you currently use most of your vacation time, or do you have a lot of unused time? What is the payout policy at the new job and do you plan to stay for a long time? (getting paid out for 10 days vacation when leaving a company can be a big help.)

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      Unless there’s an issue with your current job that makes you so miserable that you NEED to use every single day of those 7 weeks just to stay sane…this isn’t even a question, at least not to me. If the other job is better but not WAY better, I’d try to negotiate for more time off before accepting that offer.

  37. Cassie*

    We have a faculty member who doesn’t check email – before, word was that he only checked email at night when he’s at home. Now it’s pretty well known that his wife reads his email during the day and responds for him. She does so in a way that it looks like he’s answering (i.e., puts “Sincerely, Bill” at the end of the email).

    It’s especially weird because the name on the “to” field in the email has her name (for example, ‘Abigail Smith’ ). If I didn’t know of their arrangement, I’d be very confused why I’m receiving an email from an Abigail Smith (especially if I only knew that there was a person named Professor Smith, without knowing if it was a guy or a girl).

    I think it’s kind of weird. In my position of support staff, I have access to my boss’s email and he’s asked me to check/respond when he’s traveling. I always forward a copy to my own email so that when I respond, it’s clear that it’s me replying.

    Or is this not unusual? (And would privacy laws like FERPA or HIPPA ever be a concern in such a situation?)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Whoa. This is totally bizarre. I’m assuming there’s tenure or something in play so no one is going to deal with it? (Although even with tenure, I’d think someone could say, “uh, stop having your wife answer your professional email”?)

      Anyway, HIPPA only governs the release of medical info from medical professionals. I know nothing about FERPA, which is specific to education.

      1. Zee*

        FERPA is essentially the academic version of HIPPA.
        (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)

        Basically grades and behavioral status are between the college student (even if they are younger than 18) and the school (school being professors, counselors, and administration). A student must sign a waiver that allows their parents or guardians to have access to that information. When that is signed, parents can request transcript information and speak to professors. Anytime before that waiver is signed, the generic answer to the parents is “Ask your son/daughter.” If they get pushy, then we send them to the registrar’s office to learn about the waiver. And yes, the occasional “But I pay for my child’s tuition” phrase is thrown in, but it doesn’t matter. The student is a college student, and therefore, all that information is private. Talk to your kids!

        That’s why they don’t post grades under ID numbers out in the halls anymore. Total FERPA violation.

        So technically, if she is emailing the students about their grades (especially) then she and her husband are both in violation. She really shouldn’t know the grades, and if she does, she shouldn’t be letting the students know. If he comes home and complains that Troublemaker Johnny was busting his chops again, that will probably not leave the house. But if she’s emailing Troublemaker Johnny that he is to either shape up or ship out, then there’s a problem.

    2. fposte*

      I’m in academics, and I think it’s weird. And if the email ever includes any discussion of student performance or grades, then yes, FERPA could be a concern here. So if students are writing him about the grade they got? That could be problematic.

      However, you’ve also said this arrangement is “pretty well known.” In that case, I’m betting people have decided it’s not worth doing anything about (which I think is dumb, but I’m not there). I might, if there are student performance emails, still take a moment to talk to whoever’s the most accessible academic admin in your department, preferably whoever is student dean, to mention that you’re wondering about the FERPA issue and you wanted to make sure admin was okay with it.

      1. Cassie*

        I say it’s pretty well known meaning among us staff members – I found out because I asked a secretary to ask him something face-to-face (since I thought he wouldn’t read email until nighttime) and she said “oh, his wife checks his email – she’ll respond”. If I was a student taking a one-semester class from him, I’m not sure I would know that. Although maybe he does tell his classes never to email him about grades or private matters.

        And @AAM – yes, he’s tenured. I think the consensus around here is “oh, well, at least those emails are being taken care of” rather than “wait, this is kind of not usual professional behavior”. It’s not like anyone can gently persuade him to read his email.

        1. fposte*

          Then I’d drop a word with whichever academic administrator you find easiest to talk to. I personally wouldn’t it make it my hill to die on if they don’t seem to care after that, but I think it’s worth a mention. It sounds like you’re not seeing much in the way of performance information, so perhaps it is taken care of somehow and this is just weird, but at least you’ll have given the information to somebody with the authority to deal with it if it’s not.

          1. Rana*


            I mean, yeah, technically it’s a FERPA violation, and, yes, it’s weird. And, geez, if she’s going to play secretary for him, she should do it under his email account, not her own.

            It also makes me wonder how he handling things like grade submissions, Blackboard/Moodle uploads, etc.

    3. Editor*

      This makes me wonder if this academic couple is out of the 1950s. When I worked at a university (long ago and far away), some of the retired professors had wives who typed their manuscripts, handled correspondence, screened calls and so on as though they were secretaries.

      I’m picturing someone who is tenured and is totally a technophobe. So the spouse offers to handle that end of things because she’s tired of the fallout on the home front (tantrums, using mouse as though it was a remote and other PEBCAK issues). Of course, the spouse could also be answering the email because prof isn’t using the computer because prof looks at porn and that’s how they’ve compromised. Or the spouse could be controlling. Has the professor always avoided email, and if so, could there be a problem with dyslexia or some other issue where the spouse is essentially the “accommodation” he needs in his job?

      But someone needs to check on the FERPA stuff.

  38. A Teacher*

    Among my many experiences, I am a teacher and have taught adjunct at the local community college. It sounds like a clear violation of FERPA, especially if she’s not his admin assistant, and even then it would be sketchy at best…

  39. Phyllis*

    If specific student educational information is being discussed in the emails, it’s a FERPA violation. Student information can only be shared with those who have a legitimate educational need. It’s probably also a violation of the school’s Internet/email acceptable use policy.

  40. Career Changer*

    I went back to school a few years ago to finish my bachelor’s degree. I’m in the home stretch now and should graduate next year. Yay! The problem is that almost all the postings I see for jobs I would want with this degree require 3-5 years of experience, which I don’t have. How am I going to find a job in this field when I have no experience? I’m going to have student loans to pay off and bills to pay, I can’t take on intern work and all kinds of volunteer jobs while working full time. I was thinking of doing freelance, but I don’t know if that’s a good answer either.

    1. New_to_this*

      You don’t mention your specific career field, but are there graduate jobs you could apply for? If you’re older than the average graduate you have extra experience they don’t – that could help your application. Or could you get part-time work while you do your degree in the same sort of field?

      1. Career Changer*

        The overall field would be marketing, but my major is more of a social media marketing field. I’m not sure what you mean by graduate jobs. Like entry level? I’m not finding any.

  41. Avig*

    Is it true that if Company A offers you a salary, let’s say $30,000 and Company B offers you a salary of $35,000, you don’t tell Company A that you got another offer for $35,000 and use that to your advantage?

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I think you can absolutely say that you have another offer on the table at a higher salary, and that although you’d love to take Company A’s offer, it’s hard to say no to the extra money. You have to be prepared that the answer will be, “Sorry, this is the best we can do,” but it might not be. If they really like you, they may be willing to spend the extra $ not to have to go with a lesser candidate (or reopen the search, if you’re the only person they’ve seen that they like).

      What I don’t think you can do is try to use the higher salary to get your CURRENT employer to pay you more. That just goes into the “why you shouldn’t accept a counter-offer” argument.

  42. Jesicka309*

    I have a question:
    I did a media degree (graduated 2010) and have been working in a vaguely related field (television commercial scheduling). I’ve managed to get myself slightly above entry level over the last two years, but it’s become obvious that I did the wrong degree for the field I really want to be in – marketing. Last year I started a business marketing degree online, and have another 2 and a bit years left.
    Should I stick out my ill fitting commercials job (with the slightly higher pay) until I finish my degree? Or make the move into a marketing assistant/pa role, knowing I’ll be short on cash fOr a few years?

    1. fposte*

      What’s the background of the people who currently have the jobs you want? Did they need experience in the marketing line to get their jobs, or was the degree enough? If they needed experience, it sounds like you’re going to have to go the assistant route anyway–the question is whether it makes more sense to do it now or later. If the degree is the only key you’re missing and you’re not miserable where you are, though, I’d say stay where you are and do a lot of networking in marketing while you’re in the field until you’ve got the degree.

      1. jesicka309*

        Most marketing jobs require the degree plus a couple of years experience – and sometimes that’s just for the assistant/pa jobs too! Ugh.
        My current job is making me miserable – my initial reason for starting the degree was to hold off a bout of depression that was settling in, as I’m prone to months of hopelessness (what am I doing? why can’t I get my life together etc.) The degree is giving me a sense of going somewhere, but I can’t decide whether I need to move the job in that direction too.
        It doesn’t help that my bf makes quite a bit more as a sole trading osteopath, and is not exactly thrilled about ‘picking up the slack’ for me any more than he already is. *sigh*

        1. fposte*

          Off the main topic, but is he really picking up slack overall, or are your unpaid contributions mysteriously not counting in the ledger? Is the standard of living that you’re contributing to determined by his income or yours?

          Back on topic–the way you describe it, it’s not necessarily that you’re miserable because of the job so much as miserable because you’re looking for more progress toward an end goal. If that’s the case, then you could see the job as a means to that end, try to save some money for when you do have to take a pay cut, and use the time to really identify the contacts for that next step.

          This also depends to some extent on the pay differential. If you’re genuinely not earning enough to live off of now, it doesn’t make much sense to go into debt (financial or relationship) for a job that you’re not enjoying.

          1. jesicka309*

            Oh no, it’s definitely an overall slack. I leave at 7 am and get home at 7 pm, while he is able to sleep in, do housework, see about 10 patients, cook dinner, and still earns double my income! It’s maddening… and makes it really hard to say ‘oh by the way, my hours are still the same/longer, and I’m earning less. Thanks for dinner, btw.’ He doesn’t want to have to wait until 8 so I can cook…. it’s a minefield, I tell you. Isn’t the breadwinner supposed to be out working longest? And apparently it’s my fault for picking the wrong degree when I was 17! Hmph.
            I guess I could see the job as a means to an end…the bosses have finally sat up and realised that I’m not a good fit longterm, even though I’m good at my job, and are giving me pa/admin/networking training in a few weeks. So I’m definitely going to sit that out at least before I decide to make a move. In any case, the longer I work here, the better it looks on my resume for now at least.
            We only moved in together after I got the small pay increase, and I was already earning slightly more than what an assistant would earn. The joys of balancing two different incomes and one household (plus two egos!)
            Thanks for the advice. :) It feels good to get it out and talk about it, even if I don’t do anything but stay and wait it out. :)

            1. fposte*

              Well, it’s good to know that the home situation is being fairly seen, at least. The rest of it is just tough, but I agree that it’s worth exploring the growth that they seem to be offering you within the job before you make any changes.

            2. Natalie*

              This is off the topic of careers, per se, but you might consider some kind of couples counseling to discuss the way you do your finances. Counseling doesn’t have to be something you do because you are about the split up without it – it can be extremely helpful way before that stage.

              My partner and I have just started counseling and finances are one of the issues we are exploring. It’s been amazing.

  43. nyxalinth*

    Also, what’s with the recent rash of employment ads requiring a photo with the resume? Unless looks are directly related to the job, I find this skeevy and unprofessional. I do know in Europe it’s the custom, but I don’t think there’s so many recent European businesses gaining a foothold here, or am I wrong?

    1. Elise*

      I’ve not seen this. Maybe it’s regional? If you don’t mind saying… What part of the country are you in and what sort of jobs are they? And where are the ads posted? The only fields I can think of where someone’s face is commonly used with jobs outside the entertainment industry are real estate and insurance.

      Be cautious if you are seeing them on Craigslist or something. Those could turn out to be GWC type ads. (GWC = Guy With Camera, basically a pervy sort who calls himself a photographer, but really just wants to take nude pictures.)

  44. New_to_this*

    Would love some advice from you experts out there…

    I’ve recently taken over as a team lead of a new team. My team members are taken from previous existing teams around the country – the remainder of those people have moved into different teams. The model has moved from state based work to country based work. The team members are still located in their respective states, but still work in the same location as their previous colleagues.

    I’m having a particular issue with one of my new team members. He appears overly sensitive to his colleagues (who seem to wind him up) overly sensitive to me – I replied to an email without saying “to bob” – I just typed the reply – yes I was terse because I wasn’t happy with his original email – but his first response was to forward my email to one of his colleagues who then himself wrote me a terse email – essentially telling me how I should be doing my job (which I’ve not yet dealt with – as he’s not my direct report). But then my team member emailed me two days later with the opening line “are you angry with me because you never wrote a salutation in the email and the tone suggested you weren’t happy.”

    There is a large amount of change these guys are all dealing with and the management function for them is changing significantly, however, they are all experienced in their roles and old enough (I’d expect) to be able to deal with these sorts of issues (they are 40’s plus and this organisation is no stranger to change).

    I’m torn between wanting to be sympathetic, but actually I’m not. I’m impatient with what I see as whining – because of the changes. I’m their target because I’m the one physically in their state whereas the other managers are located in a different state.

    Question is – I cannot spend time accommodating every email to this one guy to suit his sensibilities – I don’t have the time or inclination to hand hold him through every email or issue. I need to be able to tell them things are changing and that I won’t work the same as their previous manager or that their work needs amending without it being overly dramatized. Noticeably to me, I’m not experiencing the same issue with my new team members who are remotely based from me – the difference is noticeable. They are much more independent and mature in their approach.

    So, how do I deal with the over sensitive ones here?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Be very matter of fact and very direct. “Yes, I often don’t take the time to write a salutation, since we all know each other here.” “Yes, I’m doing things a bit differently than what was done before.” Etc.

      Unemotional, matter of fact tone.

    2. KayDay*

      wtf?! I write a salutation in my business emails 90% of time, but really, I don’t get offended if someone doesn’t do the same. That’s ridiculous. It’s an email salutation, unless your email was actually rude and berating, you didn’t do anything wrong.

      I would reply by saying, in a straightforward but polite way, “yes, I was disappointed in XYZ, because of ABC, and I would like to see LMNOP. However, I don’t normally write greetings in my emails, so please don’t take that to mean anything.”

    3. Lily*

      I am sure that Alison is right, but I think you also have to be prepared that oversensitive people may remain oversensitive and see meaning in this that and the other and continue to see meaning despite anything you say. It was very painful to realize that I couldn’t convince people of my good thoughts, feelings and intentions and so I am no longer willing to discuss them.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, he can remain oversensitive if he wants, but the manager shouldn’t really indulge that — he needs to do his job without making everything into drama.

  45. H in Houston*

    In mid-August I took a temporary position as a billing clerk through a recruiter. I was not informed about what I would actually be doing as a temp by my recruiter, just that it would be for two to three weeks and would possibly become a permanent position. I accepted because I needed/wanted to work. There was no interview, apparently the company liked my resume enough that they didn’t feel they needed to (I also have really good references). However, I didn’t get a chance before I started to make sure it was a position I wanted to take or a company I would want to work for (especially since it may become a permanent position) and everything happened so quickly (received the call from my recruiter on Tuesday, was informed later that day I’d have to take a drug test, test results were received by the recruiter Wednesday, I started work on Thursday). Now, having been there a little over two weeks, I know that I do not want to accept a permanent position if it’s offered to me, for various reasons. It seems like they are going to want to keep me there at least through mid-September; I only know because I had to sign up for a training day, so I guess I will be there longer than the 2-3 weeks.

    So, question 1 and a 1/2: Should I let my recruiter know that I’m unhappy there, since they haven’t asked? (and is it normal that they haven’t?) I can work for a while but I don’t want this to become long term and am still applying for jobs, which brings me to my next question: If I am offered a position, how much notice should I give at the temp position? I assumed it would be the standard two weeks, but my mother-in-law told me I should only give a week’s notice since I’m a temp and the company knows that there’s no commitment on either side.

    I also want to add that the advice here at AAM has really helped focus my job search and the tips have helped me understand cover letters, improved my resume, and be more prepared for interviews – so thank you, Allison!

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Actually, I’d really love to hear if anyone disagrees with this but… I kinda feel that there is no standard for giving notice as a temp. Sure, if you can give a week or even two, that’s great. But I kinda feel like the temp position has stronger “at will” component. They might not hire you for a job again later, if you leave one day and tell them you’re not coming back. But I feel like it’s not as severe, just by the nature of the arrangement.

      Who disagrees? :)

      1. Rana*

        I think it mostly depends on the nature of work you were doing for them. If you leave in the middle of a project that you’re a key part of, that seems to me like it’d warrant more of a head’s up. But if you’re just doing regular stuff that could be done at short notice by any temp with the necessary skills, I’d worry less about giving the full two weeks’ notice.

      2. Jamie*

        I disagree with this. Your employer is your temp agency – the place they send you are their clients.

        References from clients – who actually supervised your work are great – but I’ve found that the reference from the temp agency who vouched for my reliability and professionalism across a wide range of jobs was just as important. Besides, no one knows what the future holds and you may just need to be back on the agencies books someday and you don’t want to burn that bridge. You want them to welcome you back and trust you with the better assignments, which they won’t do if you’ve left them hanging before.

        Dependability is crucial in any job, but I would argue especially in the temp world where it can be a very rare commodity.

        Give two weeks for your agency – the same as you would for any employer.

        1. Kelly O*


          And go back and read the paperwork you signed with the temp agency. Many times there is verbiage in there about how to deal with this sort of thing.

          1. H in Houston*

            Thank you all for the advice! These were all great points and I’m going to stick with my initial plan to give two weeks notice if a job opportunity arises.

  46. Kat M*

    I have a story to tell. My mom is the director of a nursing home, and I was asking her about how she goes about hiring people. If people would like to apply for a job, they must come in person and ask the secretary for an application to fill out on-site. While the person is filling out the application, the secretary tells my mom that somebody is filling out an application. The secretary makes the call as to whether it’s worth looking at the application, based on their attitude. If not, she says she’ll take it to HR, and promptly ditches it. If the applicant seemed personable, they might even be interviewed on the spot, assuming they’re qualified.

    Credentials are easy to come by, but attitude will land you the job. :)

    1. Hari*

      Does the secretary tend to reject people a lot though? Although it has happened, common sense would tell anyone that being rude to anyone at a prospective place of employment would be a job killer right there. Do they just base it on rudeness though? The way you phrased it seems like the person would need to be extra friendly or talkative and that polite and reserved wouldn’t cut it.

    2. Lily*

      given the state of grade inflation, I agree that credentials are a minimum bar, but not sufficient for job success. Attitude is really important. The receptionist can judge attention to detail or attitude when she points out a mistake or asks a question. But please tell us, what does the receptionist judge?

      1. Rana*

        Agreed. “What the receptionist finds agreeable in a person” is not necessarily the same as “what the job requires.” Yes, attitude is important, but I can just imagine someone who’s coming in at the end of a long shift with their current job and who, while polite, doesn’t have the energy to wear their full “job demeanor” in a situation that doesn’t seem to call for it. Or someone who doesn’t “click” with the receptionist, but whom other people would find perfectly pleasant to work with.

  47. Anonimus*

    I’ve been working at my new job as a receptionist for the past 6 weeks and things relating to the job are going okay now. I had a rough start because it was a job that was very unfamiliar to me and I needed some extra time to get accustomed to it. Thankfully, now I know almost everything about the job. But that’s not my question.

    I work in a place that’s fairly laid back and my coworkers are always chatting with each other in small groups. Every single one of them are extroverts who LOVE talking to their other coworkers and they do this frequently throughout the day. I don’t always have the opportunity to talk with them because my primary role is to be at the front desk and to answer phones, but I’ve noticed that they don’t make the effort to say “hi” or to talk to me about anything. My gut is telling me something is wrong here.

    I do get some down-time on most days, but usually they’re busy talking among themselves and I don’t want to intrude because the convo might involve some confidential information about their work. I am an introvert and I don’t need a lot of person-to-person interaction, but for some reason, my gut is telling me that they’re leaving me out of conversations on purpose. I definitely could be wrong, but the signs are pointing to that.

    For example, sometimes when I go to the back of the room during down-time, I see some coworkers talking. But every time I walk past them to get something, they go dead silent for a minute or two and they avoid eye contact with me until I go back to my desk. Another thing that happens is when I talk to some coworkers one-on-one, they don’t say anything to me, or they become very curt. Another thing is I’ve heard one of my coworkers talk negatively about me behind my back. I’ve heard her say I have “no common sense” and she likes to come over to my coworker that’s right next to me, look at me and she whispers something in her ear and they start snickering. I can’t be absolutely sure if what she’s whispering about is about me, but it makes me uncomfortable.

    I don’t know if it’s me or it’s them that has to change. I’ve been told that I seem a bit cold and distant, and I want to know what can I do about this. I feel like I’m being left out on purpose and it’s starting to bother me. It also worries me about what kind of impression I’m leaving, since this is my first job out of college and I want to make a great impression on my boss and to improve my relationships with my coworkers. I don’t really want to go to my boss because it’s not something I should be talking about because I don’t have physical proof that they’re doing anything. But it’s starting to bother me a lot and I want to nip it in the bud. Any help or advice would be great!

    1. jesicka309*

      Oh I feel for you so much! This is exactly the kind of reception when I started my current job. You would think as the newbie they would make an effort to include you, get to know you etc. before they judge!
      Unfortunately I think it’s a fact of life for people working in admin/receptionist roles. The people you work with see you as their ‘secretary’ and have no interest in being friends – to them, you are beneath them. They don’t see that without you, they would have to do their own filing, mail, and answer phones all day – the stuff that you do to make their lives (and jobs) easier. It smacks of insecurity – perhaps your boss has spoken highly of you, and they’re worried you’ll move up the organisation? Was your predecessor a friend?
      Don’t let it get you down, as they might not even realise they’re acting this way. Wait and see how they react to the next new person – do open their arms up, or do they act in the same, standoffish way?
      And definitely don’t try too hard, as this will usually back fire on you. I’ve found the best way to act around these sorts of people is to compliment them, ask them about their weekends, show an interest in them. They LOVE to talk about themselves, and its a great way to be ‘included’ without seeming pushy.
      Also, cheer up! It’s a job, not your life. :) As long as you have satisfying relationships outside of the workplace, friends and family, you really don’t need to be besties with your colleagues. Good luck!

    2. Editor*

      I’m introverted, but I smile a lot. When someone comes in the door, smile, even if you don’t need to talk to them. Smile generally at the snarky group that stops talking. See if that makes them feel you’re friendlier.

      One drycleaner I used was always very helpful. One day I went in and someone from the back was covering the desk. “Oh, you’re the lady who always smiles,” she said. Made my day.

      I don’t know if smiling will actually make being a receptionist easier, but it’s a nice habit to develop.

      1. Jamie*

        In some places being smiley and pleasant is actually in the job description for the receptionist.

        I’ve worked with one, once, who was sunny and warm whenever speaking with customers or even strangers at the door asking for applications, but never even acknowledged co-workers unless she had to and then it was somewhat terse.

        She put up a fight with HR claiming that she didn’t have to be friendly to the people who work here, just outsiders. This was quite a protracted discussion where it had to be outlined to whom she could be rude (no one) and that she had to be civil to everyone whether they worked here or not. It was a strange situation.

        That isn’t the kind of attitude that gets you invited to lunch.

        1. Kelly O*

          You have GOT to be kidding me.

          I know that I initially tend to come off as aloof. I’ve heard the “bitchy” label tossed around, but even though I tend toward introversion in the way I recharge, I do try to at least fake it with people at work.

          But having to lay out to whom you can and cannot be rude? Geez…

          1. Jamie*

            It was a fascinating study in dysfunction.

            And to hear HR give in on weird negotiations like about to whom you had to be pleasant vs civil and what constituted the difference.

            I learned from this pleasant = saying good morning with a smile. You must do this for customers and vendors. Civil to co-workers does not require a greeting nor a smile, but you couldn’t look away when they were speaking to you and begin filing or typing…and you needed to acknowledge that you heard what was said. Also civil means no eye rolling or screaming over the PA system in an irritated tone when someone didn’t pick up on the first page.

            I’m sure there were peace talks in various wars with less specificity.

            And both of these people are still working, from what I’ve heard – not with me anymore fortunately – which is why I want to scream when I see so many commentors here who seem like lovely people who desperately want to get hired and people like this are on someone’s payroll.

    3. NewReader*

      One technique I have found helpful is to shift my focus.
      First- do you know all of them? Knowing names is perceived as power. Knowing names and job title is bonus points.

      Next. Do you know at least one tidbit of info about each of them?
      Ex: Susie in accounting has a new collie pup that she is THRILLED about. Know that pup’s name.
      Keep it light, keep it happy. Grandkids, pets, hobbies, vacation trips are usually safe topics.

      Here is the bottom line: Do YOU like these people? Yes, it matters. Figure that out. It could be as simple as you don’t like them and this sentiment is boomeranging back to you. (They sound like difficult people to like….)

      I am basically introverted, too. I did not realize that I had a reputation for getting along with everyone. It was years before I was told. (I was too self-focused and too busy criticizing myself, so I did not notice.)

      I recommend, instead of trying to approach a group of employees, look for opportunities to have brief and pleasant one-on-one conversations each day. Try to build a working relationship with individuals. Approach them as individuals not as a group- less daunting.

      And I must add- the last time I was with a work group that quit talking when I approached the reason was they were ripping a third party to shreds with gossip. They thought I would tell the third party. It wasn’t all about me.

      Be prepared to find out that it’s not just you. It could be everyone there is miserable and they all want out of the job.

    4. Jamie*

      “Every single one of them are extroverts who LOVE talking to their other coworkers and they do this frequently throughout the day.”

      I was thinking about this – there is no way for you to know that. I have some co-workers I chat with frequently throughout the day – I’m actually pretty friendly if I know you and I’m not currently buried under 800 lbs of work…but initiating small talk with someone I don’t know well is on par with a root canal for me.

      I’m a responder, I’m never a make-a-first-mover. My point is just because they are chatty with each other doesn’t mean they are naturally gregarious or that they wouldn’t respond positively to you being friendly.

  48. Recent Grad*

    I am currently interning at two different places while working part time doing something not related to anything I want to do. Recently I received a call from a perspective employer asking me what I had been doing since I graduated from college. Since my internships are fairly new they are not on that version of my resume. My question is, where exactly do you guys suggest I list my internships, under work experience or extracurricular/volunteer work? Also, should I list my part time job or simply answer these types of questions when someone asks me what I have been doing? I’m worried my resume might be frowned upon by hiring managers.

    1. KayDay*

      Internships normally go under work experience for recent grads (actually, I would re-title it “Relevant experience” and include any significant, job-related experience, including long-term volunteer projects).

      I’ve seen recent grads who use a relevant experience section where they include many bullet points for relevant internships and volunteer work, and then they have a small section at the bottom for “other experience” where unrelated part time jobs and stuff go.

    2. Katie*

      I hate to be that girl, and maybe you know this, but it’s “prospective” employer (as in “prospect”), not “perspective.”

      Hope that’s helpful!

  49. Meg*

    I’m job hunting in an area about 2 and a half hours away from where I currently live. I plan on moving to the area (before my start date) and already have secured housing (living with a friend for a few months until I get my own place). The jobs that I am interested in specify that they would like local candidates (DC/MD/VA – I will be within the DC metro area in a Maryland suburb) because they are not offering relocation expenses, or expect someone to commute a couple hours a day. This, I understand. However, since I currently do NOT live there, what is the best way to assert that I would be a local candidate, but will not move unless I have a firm start date?

    I’ve already updated my resume (or a version of it) to reflect the local address and I have a Google Voice number with a local area code. Is it something I would put in the cover letter, and if so, what’s the best way to word it?

    1. DC Girl*

      You could use your friend’s address, since you would be living there to start, but I don’t really think being 2 hours away is a big deal, and I don’t even think you need to address it. If you don’t feel comfortable using your friend’s address, but do think you need to address it, just mention in the closing paragraph of your cover letter that “While I am currently living in Dumfries, VA, I am planning to move to Potomac, MD and already have housing in the area secured.”

      Also, because so many people living in the DC area aren’t originally from here, and because so many people live in the various suburbs, a DC area code really is not necessary. I only have 1 friend with a DC area code for their personal number.

      1. Meg*

        Well I currently live on the Delmarva peninsula, and would have to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to commute to the areas I’m looking for work in (Fairfax, Alexandria, McLean, Reston, Arlington in Virginia, and Rockville, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, Bethesda in MD). I live 2 and a half hours away from Gaithersburg, where I plan on moving to. Alexandria is the farthest at about 45 minutes from Gaithersburg, but considered to be reasonable commuting distance. I probably wouldn’t be considered a local candidate even with the DC/VA/MD specifications because I don’t live in MD.

        I just don’t want my resume to be overlooked because my DE address would show that I’m not a local candidate, or my DE phone number.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Keep in mind that commuting from Alexandria or Arlington to Gaithersburg in rush hour will take 1-2 hours each way, depending on how bad traffic is. (I live in Arlington and have mistakenly made that drive a couple of times.)

          1. Meg*

            I remember helping my friend move out there, and we hit 495 from 270 going towards Silver Spring/College Park, and it’s stand-still traffic at the College Park and Bethesda exits at 4:30pm. However, I’ve found that it only really tacked an extra 15-30 minutes to the total time it took to get from Gaithersburg back to my side of the Bay.

            I would rather NOT work in Alexandria or Arlington, and there are a lot of prime opportunities in my field in McLean and Fairfax. If I do get into Alexandria or Arlington, … well then.

          2. Anonymous*

            You live in Arlington? I live in Arlington! C’mon, an AAM meetup should be arranged for us tri-borough folks. Also, ditto on the rush-hour commute. It’s not pretty.

        2. DC Girl*

          Ah, Delaware does seem a lot farther, however, so if you are concerned I would just use your friends address to get past screening. I still don’t think anyone will care about the area code at all, since everyone here has a different area code (including NY, CA, FL and everything in between). And God bless you for being able to drive over that bridge.

        3. Laura L*

          I was hired for a job in DC while living in Illinois. I did have a connection with a current employee and very strong background for that position, though. I’m not sure how my address would have affected things if I didn’t have those advantages.

          However, I would imagine that an out of state address would be less likely to hurt you in DC than in many other areas. Particularly since Delaware is still fairly close.

          That bridge, though. *shudder* I went to the Eastern Shore for the first time a few months ago and was about ready to stop the car and walk the rest of the way just so I wouldn’t have to finish that drive!

          1. Meg*

            Aw, that bridge isn’t so bad! The only one that gets me a little bit is the Nice Bridge (the one on 301 crossing the Potomac from MD to VA). It’s only two-lanes and pretty narrow and goes straight up and straight down. I drive an SUV and my chest feels just a little tight when I see 18-wheel tractor trailers come in the opposite direction. But the Bay Bridge is a such a breeze. And the Bay Bridge/Tunnel on 13. Its nice.

            1. DC Girl*

              OMG, I had my first (and hopefully last) experience on that bridge this summer. I was sure I was going to die. I had to get out of the car after crossing it to catch my breath. I hadn’t realized it was called the “nice” bridge as I was too busy watching my life go before my eyes.

              1. Meg*

                It’s called Nice bridge because its named after former governor Nice. I found that one out all awkwardly thinking it was called Nice because on the same sign with the name, it said you could call for an escort across, thus the police were being nice.

            2. Laura L*

              Well, it was only really terrifying the first time.
              The second time (on the way home) it was merely scary.

            1. Jamie*

              I lived in Novato for a couple of years while my (then) husband was stationed in Alameda. I couldn’t cross that bridge without every window in my car being down as I was sure it was going to collapse and I’d have to get the baby out.

              I still have nightmares about that bridge. If the one you mean is the one that connects Oakland – if you mean another bridge then just disregard this comment :).

  50. Lily*

    Could you tell me at which point you would decide against giving someone a contract?

    First I get up at the end of the interview and she stays seated and asks me personal questions.

    Second, the computer account has to be set up and there is a shortcut which is against the rules, but most people choose to have it done anyway. So she chooses to have it done and then she writes to the computing center saying that there is this shortcut set up in her account and did they set it up? and could they please remove it because it is bothering her. Does anyone else consider this worse than tattling though not quite entrapment?

    Third, I ask to meet her to discuss her proposal which should be based on X. She comes without a proposal and starts complaining about 1 point in X which would have affected only part of her proposal. She explains she didn’t have time.

    Fourth, she spends 90 minutes with me, long after I ask her whether she needs further information to write her proposal.

    Fifth, I ask her to come again by date Y to show me her proposal, but she doesn’t have her calender with her, so we can’t make an appointment.

    1. Meg*

      1. I would have looked at her as if she had 3 heads if she remained seated. Hopefully that would mortify her beyond belief just by the look and trigger the “Did I do something wrong?”

      2. So she chooses the shortcut to be set up, and then complains that it’s there? Uh… I’m with you on this.

      3. No proposal? No time? No contract.

      4. This is why she “doesn’t have time.”

      5. You gave her a date, you make the appointment, it’s up to her to remember to put in her calendar, not up to you to put it in her calendar for her.

      I say do not contract.

      1. Rana*

        3 & 5 are deal-breakers for me. The message she’s sending, however unintentionally is “I am disorganized and I can’t be bothered to care about the job” with a side order of “I’ll blame other people if things go wrong.”

        I say no, also.

    2. NewReader*

      Usually in the beginning there is the honeymoon period, where everything goes well.

      If this is “going well”, I would hate to see what “going badly” looks like.

    3. Lily*

      Thanks for the feedback!

      I was wondering if I should break off after 2, especially since I wasn’t the one who helped her though I got the flak from the computing center.

      When I was scheduling the meeting, I decided to make it earlier than my deadline because I suspected she might not bring the proposal and I thought I wanted to give her a second chance, but it was a waste of 90 minutes for me. In future, I’ll ask for the proposal in advance. No proposal, no meeting!

      Meg, you may be right that she doesn’t have time, because she gets distracted by this and that.

      Jill, I have a habit of believing what people say, but I will have to remember that “actions speak louder than words”

      Rana, thanks for putting labels on her behavior; there are other indications that she is disorganized which I won’t mention here.

      NewReader, you’re right! People try harder at the beginning, so it can only get worse …

  51. Anonymous*

    Teachers! Does anyone know the requirements for becoming an adult education, jr. college, or university ESL teacher in California? I know that you usually have to get your experience overseas because it is hard to entry level teachers with no experience to get jobs in the US. I just got my TEFL certificate and fully intend on going to teach overseas. That’s my dream. However, if/when I come back to the US and would like to continue teaching ESL in the US what is required and how do I go about it? I know vaguely that you need teaching credentials but I don’t know what that means or how you get them. Also that you need a degree in TEFL, ESL, something related etc. I have a BS in an entirely different discipline. I’m thinking a Master’s is preferred though and I’m wondering if I can get a Master’s that is related to teaching ESL without having gotten the Bachelor’s? And also is it possible to do it online? (If so any school recs?) That way I could quite possibly complete it while overseas. Also, what does getting a Master’s entail? I know you have to write a thesis. Is it just like getting a Bachelor’s plus the thesis?

    1. ESOL Teacher's Daughter***

      I have no idea about California’s requirements, specifically, but in general you will need a Master’s degree to get a decent-paying job teaching in the US. It’s usually fine if your BA isn’t related; although you might need to take an extra prerequisite or two. Teaching overseas isn’t necessary, but you will probably need experience tutoring to doing volunteer work teaching English. From what I understand, the degree to teach English inside the US is TESOL; whereas the TEFL certificate is to teach outside the US.

      Have you looked into doing a Master’s International with Peace Corps?

      **everything I know is from my mother, not my personal experience, so please take it with a grain of salt.

  52. Bionic Wombat*

    I’m looking for another job.* I’d like to do something else. Until I find the right, maybe I should tell the VP (nice, ineffective, spread thin) I’d like to do something else at the college; it’s lousy with interim positions right now, so one more can’t hurt. I figure I can gain experience and use my expertise (assuming any shreds of it remain) while helping someone transition to my old job–it’s better (for them) than quitting with no one who can step in.

    Is this crazy? Selfish? Stupidly telling them they can cut me in the next budget round?

    *I work at a college in a niche non-teaching position. Management is at odds with itself, can’t communicate priorities (assuming they exist, other than the president’s latest shiny object), reorgs me (four bosses in five years, though the first three retired/quit), has been sympathetic but otherwise unresponsive to my office’s issues enforcing policy, and has driven away my best staff person by jerking him around about the status of his job–and they’ve not given me permission to rehire after 2+ months. I would think they’re eliminating my department, but they rejected my offer to cut part of my salary to keep my staff, and the president just suggested reorging me into her area. The walls breathe despair. On the plus side, I have an office with a window, a decent paycheck, and a short commute.

  53. nyxalinth*

    What’s a good way to handle people who keep telling you “Just lower your standards and stop being a snob and work fast food/retail/other min. wage job” when you’ve already said fifty times “I apply all the time and can’t get in because I’m overqualified/don’t have recent retail experience”? It’s starting to piss me off badly.

    1. Barbie's Dreamhouse*

      1. “Thanks. I’ll think about that.”
      2. “There’s no time in my day now that I’ve started at the brothel.”
      3. “I’ve already lowered my standards. I’m still talking to you, aren’t I?”
      4. “I gave that strategy 6 months. Now I’m focusing on careers for which I’m just qualified.”

  54. Advice Seeker Here*

    Sorry to be late in writing this, but I need some advice.

    I work in retail, union shop. I have coworkers who always keep asking for more shifts. This creates a problem for me because in order to accommodate them, hours are taken away from me. One has started working a shift he has never worked before (always said no but now allegedly needs more money despite working 20+ hours/week already or an average of 5+ more than the rest). Another wants to fill in with as many shifts as possible around an outside commitment. I also have an outside commitment, but it’s only one day a week. I’m available at this retail job the other 6 days. However, with the way the schedule change has come into play right now, especially if the first coworker keeps that new-to-him shift, the job isn’t worthwhile for me (it’ll put me to no more than 13 hours when I’ve been working average of 18). My take-home pay will be just enough to put gas in my car and maybe have a few bucks leftover.

    How can I politely and professionally yet sternly tell my boss that this isn’t working for me? I can live with it if it was one random week. I cannot live with it if it becomes a weekly trend. If he refuses to help, do I call in the shop steward? I would start looking for another job, but I have a commitment until the end of the year that other employers might not like. How can I rectify this without upsetting the apple cart of the job and my life for the time being? Oh and cooperate is refusing to accept overlaps in schedules.

    1. KarenT*

      Do you know why your boss is giving in? Is it a union thing–like they have seniority? Maybe your boss is following union rules. If not, can you speak with your union rep?

      1. Advice Seeker Here*

        Seniority was the reason given to me once. I understand that unions revolve on seniority, but at the same time, shouldn’t I be allowed to earn enough money each week that goes a little bit further than just being able to fill my gas tank? I’d ask the shop steward, but the store is sort of clique-ish, and I don’t want it to get around that I’m a whiner or whatever.

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