short answer Saturday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s short answer Saturday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Job-hunting during the last week of a campaign

I work in politics. More specifically, I run the fundraising effort for a congressional campaign. After the upcoming election on Tuesday next week, I am planning to move to a different city where I have limited professional contacts, to be closer to my currently long-distance partner. I’d like to start seriously job hunting, outside of my current field, but I’m wondering if employers would find it strange that I am applying for jobs just a week before Election Day. Will this seem lazy or uncommitted?

Nah, it’ll seem understandable, since it’s clear your job is about to end. And when you’re job-hunting outside of politics, people are far less likely to realize how intense working on a campaign is and that you’re not supposed to be thinking about anything else during it.

2. Coworker with eating disorder

I work with a gal who appears to have an eating disorder. She’s 58 and she thinks she’s fat (she’s not even close) and the only thing she consumes are protein shakes. She has a variety of them at her desk. A couple of years ago, I visited this coworker in the hospital because she had avoided solids for so long she got a perforated colon when she gave in and ate food. After her surgery and release, she did eat healthy, fiber-rich solids, but she’s reverted back to her shakes again. I know it’s not appropriate to talk about it and I believe management can’t do anything, but I’m worried about her health. Is there any work-appropriate action I can do/say to help her?

Eating disorders are notoriously difficult to resolve. Add to that the fact that you’re not close to her — and that even the close friends and family of people struggling with eating disorders are generally unable to do much to help — and there’s not a lot you can do. You can certainly express concern, call an eating disorder hotline for advice, and/or urge her to talk to your EAP if your company has one, but unfortunately you’re not in a position to really help her.

3. Should I bring a brag book to an interview?

I have an interview with the most prominent employer in my field next week. I want to stand out from the thousands of other candidates; should I assemble a brag book containing a transcript, writing samples and letters of recommendation?

No. If they care about your transcript (many employers don’t), they’ll ask for it. Letter of recommendation count for little outside academia and sometimes law, for the reasons I explain here. Writing samples could be useful if (a) they’re good and (b) the job involves at least some writing, but I’d simply bring copies with you or email them afterwards; there’s no need to assemble them in a binder.

The only people who should be bringing portfolios to interviews are designers or their ilk. This is one of those things that some career centers and others who don’t really understand what employers care about are recommending, but it comes off as a little naive unless you’re in one of the few fields where it makes sense.

4. Negotiating the holidays off when you get a job offer

I’m currently in the midst of job hunting. I have an interview tomorrow, but so far that’s my only concrete lead. My concern right now is that the holidays are approaching, and since my family doesn’t live in my city, I’d like to visit them over that time, especially if I remain unemployed. Flying is the best option, and, of course, airfares are steadily rising.

I don’t want to wait too much longer to book as I’m worried about how expensive it’ll be, but I’m worried that booking something now could potentially jeopardize a job offer if one were to come up in the next month or so. The flights I’m looking at would keep me out of my city for two weeks (December 23 – January 6) as I have to visit two different cities. At what point is it a reasonable request to negotiate the holidays off when receiving a job offer?

It’s completely reasonable at any point. Just be prepared that you might have to pick between the job offer and keeping your flight.

5. Will giving notice guarantee me work until then?

I’m a mechanic for a pretty big, high-end prestige car company but I feel I may not have a job in the very near future. I am planning on leaving the company to take an indefinite break to travel for an extended period of time in approximately 10 weeks time. I have been with the company for roughly two years and am required to give two weeks notice. I have only recently returned to work full-time from a workplace injury that occurred back in February. Work isn’t so busy at the moment and I feel my job is at risk within the next month or so, but I need to work until the day I leave to have all my funds up to scratch for the big move!

Would it be safer if I gave 6-8 weeks notice rather than two, to guarantee me the work until my departure? If I have handed my resignation in with more than two weeks notice, can I get dismissed within those 6 weeks without getting paid out the 6 weeks notice, or can my work dismiss me with giving me only 2 weeks notice even though I have handed in a resignation?

Your employer can dismiss you at any time, whether you’ve given notice or not. At some places, if you give notice, they’ll decide you should leave earlier. Other places are grateful for notice, especially if it’s longer than the standard two weeks, and are careful to treat notice-giving employees well, since they know that other employees will take their own cues from how they see it handled.

It sounds like you think giving 6-8 weeks notice will guarantee you work until then — whereas you otherwise might be let go — but that’s not the case. I would stick with giving two weeks notice, and assume that your employer will honor it … unless they have a track record of telling people to go early. (But if they’re currently planning to let you go because of the lack of work, they’ll probably be grateful that you resigned before they had to, you’ll work out your two weeks, and that will be that. Most employers strongly prefer it if someone resigns before they have to let them go.)

6. Alerting a recruiter to a medical leave

I am waiting to hear from a recruiter to schedule an in-person interview, but I just scheduled an out-patient procedure for next week. Thing is, there is a slight chance that this procedure may turn into a surgery, depending on how things go. So, best case scenario, I will only be out 1 week. Worst case, I’ll be out 3-4 weeks.

I feel like I should be proactive and give the recruiter the heads-up that I will be unavailable for at least a week, but am not sure if I should be vague about it, or if I should just tell the recruiter that I will be out for a brief medical leave — especially when there’s the chance the chance that the recovery period may be prolonged. I really, REALLY want this job, and don’t want to miss out on this opportunity. What approach do you think is best?

If you’ll be available by phone and email during this one week, no heads-up is necessary because you’ll still be reachable. But if you’ll be entirely unreachable, yes, send a quick email saying you’ll be dealing with a personal matter (no need to say it’s medical) and unreachable for the week. If it does end up taking longer, then you can update the recruiter — but I’d wait until you know for sure that that’s the case.

7. Asking to be paid less so you owe fewer taxes

I just recently got a new job and it came with a significant increase in pay. However, I think I am now approaching the line where my federal taxes switch from 15% to 25%. Obviously I am not asking you to be my accountant, but does that make sense? Is there a point where you would ask HR to take your pay down $1,000? Or would the solution more likely be that you give some sort of charitable contribution to keep your taxable income down?

I’m not qualified to comment on the tax decision portion of this, but asking to be paid less is rarely a good idea, since your future salary (including raises at this job and your salary at your next job) will often be based on your current salary. If you want to progressively earn more, at some point you’ll have to deal with the fact that you’ll be taxed at a higher rate. And yes, there are things like charitable contributions that can make your tax liability lower.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 99 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    On taxes…. moving to a higher tax band doesn’t mean you net less, since it’s only the income above the threshold which is taxed at the higher rate. Having a higher nominal salary can cause you to net less if it makes you ineligible for some deductions or credits, but even those usually have some sort of graduated reduction which lessens the change.

    1. V*

      Right, I was just about to post this. I think OP 7 is under the impression that all of their income would be taxed at 25%. If you’re making 35k and the tax band for 30k-40k is 25% and the tax band for 0-30k is 15%, then 30k would be taxed at 15% and 5k would be taxed at 25%.

      1. Josh S*

        Ding! Good explanation of marginal taxes. It’s not that ALL your income gets taxed at the higher rate–just the part that is above the next $ point.

        The example above works out like this:
        $30k x 15% = $4.5k
        ($35k-30k) x 25% = 5k x 25% = $1.25k

        Total taxes on $35k = $5.75k (means you take home $29.25k)
        Total taxes on $30k = $4.5k (means you take home $25.5k)

        So you’re better off making more. There’s never a break even consideration. You just owe a bigger portion of each additional dollar.

        Enjoy your money!

        1. Liz*

          Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

          This common error of assuming that ALL income is taxed at the highest rate just grates on me like a misplaced apostrophe bothers grammar nerds.

    2. Kou*

      This exactly! The thing about a higher salary earning you less because of tax brackets is perpetuated by people who don’t understand this, and think your entire income is taxed the same way.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      If you get your taxes done by a professional they can show you exactly how your numbers fall. I line up questions like this each year when I go- I walk in with a written list of Qs.

      I would take the raise and let the tax prep person help me. Looking at the break points and donations are an excellent suggestions and there are also IRA contributions. No worries.

      1. Ariancita*

        Right about IRA contributions. If OP’s employer offers a 401K, then OP could contribute more pretax dollars to it, keeping their taxes down. They can also take advantage of any other pre-tax benefit that maybe offered, such as commuter benefits, flexible spending accounts, etc.

    4. Richard*

      Came here to post this: There is no way you can earn more money and get paid less via different tax bands.

    5. Anonymous*

      Wow, I learned something very important and new from this. Thank you so much for posting (and to the others who posted similar explanations).

      Decades ago, when I was a child, my father explained tax rates to me – incorrectly. He told me (with much angry ranting) that you could lose income if you went just above a tax bracket cutoff. I am very glad to find out he was quite wrong. I can’t believe I never thought to just look this up myself.

  2. akaBruno*

    Re: #7, it is also helpful to emphasize the notion of marginal tax rates. For 2012, the rate will be 15% on taxable income over $8,700 to $35,350. Any income below $35,350 will remain taxed at 15%. Only income earned above that $35,350 will be taxed at that higher 25% rate. Given the writer is approaching that line, the additional portion of income to be taxed is likely to be very small.

    1. JT*

      What Anonymous 10:32 and akaBruno said.

      It’s depressing how few people understand how tax income rates work, including some major pundits in mass media.

      1. Natalie*

        I suspect some major pundits in mass media are being deliberately incorrect, considering that incorrect understanding of taxes fits in with a specific political position.

        1. class factotum*

          Nope. I think the media doesn’t understand numbers. There was a huge news story years ago in Austin that because x% of the blood samples taken at the UT-Austin student health center were HIV positive, x% of the entire student body was also HIV positive.

          I do not have a high opinion of journalists.

          1. Canuck*

            To be fair to the journalists (I can’t believe I’m defending journalists!), if the sample of students was a completely randomized sample, then they can indeed infer the % positive of the entire student body. But if it was a voluntary or non-randomized sample, then yeah, they’re full of it :)

            1. class factotum*

              It’s completely non-random: the population of students who visit the student health center does not represent the entire student body and the population of students who visit the center and who actually have blood drawn represent the entire student body even less.

              I always think of Homer Simpson saying, “Sick on a Saturday! What are the odds of THAT happening? Like one in a thousand?”

          2. Snow*

            I’m a journalist and yes, I’m terrible with numbers. It’s a running joke in every newsroom I’ve worked in that journalists are good with words, not with numbers.

            But it’s silly to say “I do not have a high opinion of journalists.” Journalists aren’t a homogeneous group; some of us cover policy or politics, others healthcare, entertainment or foreign affairs. Some do breaking news,
            others more longer-term investigative reporting. And similarly to *any* other group of professionals, there are some bad apples among journalists. Not everyone is great, but not everyone sucks either…

            1. Iain Clarke*

              I fully respect that there are different flavours of journalists. In the (UK) news, they all seem to have extremely specific jobs.

              “And now we hear from our Left Handed Green Correspondent”.

              So, why can journalists not respect that other people have specialisms too. My favourite: “Scientist”. Hmm, could they at least narrow it down to Chemist?


              ps, pet peeve over…

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Snow, thanks for saying this. Without journalists, we would know very little about our elected officials, legislative happenings, or the world outside our immediate vicinity.

              – daughter of a reporter

              1. businesslady*

                woohoo! I’m the daughter of TWO reporters myself (although they went into other fields shortly after I was born). I think it’s their fault that I’m currently a writer/editor. :)

  3. Liz T*

    Thanks Anonymous, I came here to write that. The OP has a bizarrely common misconception about how tax brackets work. If the tax is 15% up until $X, and then above $X is 25%, you pay 15% on the first X and 25% on what’s above. So if X is, let’s say, $50,000, and you make $50,000, you’d take home $42,500. If you make $60,000, you’d take home $50,000.


      1. K*

        Eh, maybe the pile-on will demonstrate to the OP that truly is an unambiguously correct answer, and not a debateable proposition!

        1. Anonymous*

          Well, to be fanatically correct, since some deductions and credits have phase-outs when certain income thresholds are reached, there are cases where having a higher nominal salary can result in lower ‘take home’ pay. However, the difference will generally be small, and easily wiped out with a small raise the next year.

  4. Anonymous*

    #7. You know it’s not a magical line where all of your income is taxed at 25%. It’s only dollars earned above the line that are taxed at 25%.

    This is so great for the corporations! They, through the Republican party, have people making less than $35,000 so fearful of taxes that they’re willing to make less money, i.e. allow the corporations keep more.

      1. Kou*

        The thing is that a lot of people, like the OP, think their take-home would actually be less so they’re essentially earning more by making less money. This is a really common misconception, though I wonder if people legitimately act on it or not.

          1. Kou*

            Oh yeah, I imagine if someone even tried to do that their employer would clarify the whole situation for them. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were people who, say, didn’t ask for a pay increase thinking that it would make their take home less, but I have no idea if that really happens.

            1. Susie*

              My father deliberately makes less money to stay in his current tax bracket. I’ve tried explaining to him that taxes don’t work the way he thinks, but he doesn’t understand.

              It’s not that he’s asked his employer for less money. Instead, he just makes sure he doesn’t get any major raises and will work less hours (he’s paid hourly) to be sure to come in at the same annual income.

              1. Ariancita*

                I hope you can somehow change his mind about this. Explaining not only does more salary = more money in his pocket, regardless of the tax bracket, but, as another poster pointed out, taking less money affects his social security benefit when he retires and his unemployment benefit should he ever need it. He’s losing money on a lot of fronts.

              2. Ariancita*

                Also, he can remain in the same tax bracket and put that extra money in a pre-tax IRA to save for retirement. He’ll be taking home the same money (if he doesn’t understand the tax bracket stuff) by remaining in the same tax bracket, but that surplus would go to his retirement.

              3. Anonymous*

                My father talks like this as well.

                If you were ever to push him, though, I think it would ultimately come down to a different factor that the “tax issue” covers. My father is lazy and not actually capable of making much more money than he is currently making. Mine has substance abuse and mental health issues though.

                It could certainly be a different issue for your father – but I suggest he’s making an excuse for not getting promotions to save face with his family, rather than actively turning them down.

          2. Lisa*

            #7 – not about taxes, but I almost asked for a paycut by $1000 so that I could qualify for low-income housing to purchase a 1 bedroom condo in my town. All the elementary / middle schools were combined into one giant school about 10 years ago and the old schools were converted into condos and townhouses, but you couldn’t make over a certain amount at the time of application. I had just gotten a raise. I seriously thought about it, but then realized since I was single and didn’t have a dependent that I didn’t qualify anyway.

            On a side note, my mom said “well its not worth marrying anyone you know or getting knocked up for”.

  5. Anonymous*

    I’ve never understood employers who let employees go who give notice. I know that if an employee is leaving usually the last week or so their productivity goes way down because their mind is already out the door, but to dismiss an employee on the spot because they gave notice just punishes everyone left behind and strikes me as the height of pettiness.

    1. EM*

      Yeah, my last employer did that. I gave 2 weeks notice, and I was scheduled to be in the field, doing 100% chargeable work. My boss called me into his office 3 days after I gave notice to inform me that my resignation was effective immediately. I can only assume it was because we didn’t have enough work to do, and they wanted to put some less productive employees to work doing what I had been doing, but it still struck me as petty and short-sided. Everyone in my industry that I’ve told had the same reaction. They definitely look like the bad guys.

    2. Canuck*

      It depends on the situation. If you’re in a position that has access to sensitive information, or where you can possibly “steal” clients, it makes sense to have you leave immediately. This happens often to people in senior positions – the latest example I can think of is when Marissa Mayer left Google for Yahoo. It was pretty instant, considering she was leaving for a competitor.

      1. Anonymous*

        The really important bit is whether the paycheques stop – certainly for IT it (is|used to be) common for a departing employee to be sent on gardening leave for their notice period.

      2. Jen in RO*

        But if you wanted to steal clients or information, wouldn’t you just do that before you turn in your resignation?

  6. KayDay*

    #3. I received very good advice about portfolios: You should definitely keep a portfolio/brag book with certificates, transcripts, awards, work samples and other goodies…at home. It will help you put together your resume when you start job searching, and you will be able to find items you need (e.g. if asked for a sample or transcript) really easily. But don’t force your interviewer to look through it if they don’t want to–it’s for your reference, not theirs.

    1. Liz T*

      Once I had an interview that asked me to bring a portfolio–and they didn’t even ask to see it. When I mentioned it, they looked through it out of what felt like politeness. (This was for grad school, and yes, I got in, so it wasn’t disinterest in ME. It shoudl’ve been a red flag, though, that they didn’t care that much about the program.)

    2. Nicola*

      I’m a senior in college and taking a capstone class. My professor also agrees with you on the personal portfolio.

    3. JK*

      When I was a corporate software trainer, I had a portfolio of materials that I had written (marketing pieces, tri-fold instructional brochures, quick reference guides, etc.) along with some positive course evaluations with comments from students. I didn’t get the impression that any of the hiring managers thought it was weird for me to have this available for them if they were interested. This was in the mid- to late-’90s, if that makes any difference.

      I did have one interview with a woman who turned out to be a former student from when I worked at a training company. I remembered her because she was a pain in the ass as a student – competitive and know-it-all-ish. She kind of sneered throughout the interview and accused me of actively looking to change jobs, when I said that I wasn’t really looking but that the opening in her department had sounded interesting. She said no one would have a portfolio like I had if she weren’t actively job hunting. I don’t know why I would lie about that. Whatever…

      A couple of years ago, I went to a workshop given by a professional training organization that I’m a member of, and the speaker recommended putting together a portfolio that included materials that would demonstrate how/why you made certain decisions regarding training programs, web sites, processes, etc. The example he passed around was a large binder of information that no one would have time to go through.

      Now that I’m thinking about it, it does seem that this is the kind of thing I would TALK about with an interviewer, rather than SHOWING him/her something in a binder. So I have to agree with KayDay that this information would be good to have as a reference that I could use to prepare for an interview.

  7. danr*

    #7… The calculations above are nice, but there are other things to consider that will lower your taxable salary, such as a 401k, Flexible spending plans for health, and commuting plans. These options are easier to consider with a higher salary and you’re providing for your future and health.

    1. Nicola*

      Good point. I would especially gravitate towards putting more in your 401k if you’re worried about being over the edge in the tax brackets. Honestly though, I’d take the higher pay and the higher tax bracket.

      1. Steve G (from NYC)*

        Forgot out 401K when I read this but yes, I’ve been able to get $10k in 2 years saving since I starting planning seriously. Higher salary and maxing your share help!

        Also, the natural trajectory is up up up, you are really sacrificing alot asking for this? What will you do during review/raise time? My path was 25K, 27K, 32K, 37K, 45K, 50K, 52K, 65K, 67K,70K. Not paying attention to taxes I felt every single raise in my pay check so would NEVER ask to be paid less.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      It feeds into so many things. Social security benefits, pensions (if you have one), disability benefits, unemployment, if needed. It is foolish to take a lower pay rate when there are other avenues to “avoid” taxes such as extra 401 K distribution, charity, flex accounts.

      Taking less also makes you look less worthy to any future employers. I know a lot of managers that will look at what people make and equate that to performance. If the OP takes a lower pay rate any future employer may think “low performer”.

      If you don’t want the money, just give it away. There are a lot of other people that can use it.

    3. Ariancita*

      I commented above with the same response before I read this. I got a huge raise and I’ve been putting most of it into my 401K. It helps me sleep better at night knowing that money is going into my future and not being frittered away. The tax break is icing on the cake!

      1. Anonymous*

        When considering 401(k) options (or 403(b) for those in the non-profit area), remember to consider traditional vs Roth too.

        1. Ariancita*

          Sure, but Roth doesn’t offer pretax savings. OP is looking to reduce her taxable income now.

          1. Anonymous*

            If the concern is about hitting the 25% tax band right now, then the Roth may be a far better bet.

            1. Ariancita*

              I’m not sure I understand. Roth IRA contributions go in after taxes, so from your net pay. So they would still be taxed at the 25% bracket and then take some portion of their net paycheck and put it into the Roth (like putting a bunch of money after you cash your check under your mattress–if your mattress earned interest). While a 401K goes into your retirement account before taxes, thus lowering your taxable income at that time, thus keeping you in a lower bracket. A Roth only protects you from possibly hitting that bracket when you retire, because it’s not taxed when disbursed during retirement.

              1. Anonymous*

                Well, that’s the point. The LW is already in a low tax bracket, and the whole traditional-vs-Roth question hinges on your expected tax rate now vs retirement. I believe that in historical terms, tax rates are relatively low now, and the budget deficit is going to have to be closed at some point (when exactly is a much more political debate). So it is reasonable to expect taxes to go up over the next decade or so.

                1. Ariancita*

                  Understand, but the LW is worried about hitting that tax bracket right now, not in the future (though presumably in the future as well). So if she wants to stay out of it right now, a Roth isn’t going to help her.

  8. Kou*

    #4, I just went through this, and in fact I’d nervously asked AAM in the comments a few weeks ago about it. I was offered a job yesterday and I mentioned that I’ve already booked plane tickets for Thanksgiving, and he said their office is usually a ghost town around the holiday anyway so it wouldn’t be a problem. Though he did note that no paid time off is pre-loaded, so I’d have to take that time unpaid, and he also gave me the option of starting after Thanksgiving entirely.

      1. Kou*

        Thank you! It was definitely due in no small part to your advice. I’ll most likely be accepting on Monday :)

  9. Nicola*

    #2. Thanks for the info about helping my coworker with an eating disorder. Since I’m no model of perfect eating I figured I don’t have the ethos to say, “here have this instead” or, “those shakes are really bad for you.” If the time is right, however, I will express concern about the shake issue and, if she wants it, give her resources. I appreciate the feedback, and on my birthday, no less!

    1. Another Emily*

      I don’t think it would be appropriate to try to get her to eat other food. She’s dealing with a serious mental disorder (not sure if disorder is the right term, illness?) here it’s not just like she just doesn’t feel like anything but shakes for no reason.
      It must be painful to watch someone you care about do something harmful to themselves, but I can’t think of a way that you can intervene appropriately. You could do more harm than good.
      This is such a tough situation. I think you’re great for wanting to help her. I think it would be best to try to encourage her with positive things (maybe around work) but I’d steer clear of food altogether.
      Also happy birthday. :)

      1. Nicola*

        I get ya. I think you’re right that I could easily do more harm than good. It’s tough but I’ll think good thoughts and hope good things happen. And if she needs someone, hopefully I’ll be able to be there for her.

        Thanks for your input and thanks for the bday wish!

      2. Ellie H.*

        I refer to it as a mental illness, personally.

        I used to have an eating disorder (anorexia) and I agree with everyone else that there is really nothing you can do or say though I also agree that getting advice on how you personally could best deal with/react to it could be helpful. Eating disorders have a very high rate of relapse and can be very difficult to get out of. I think that commenting on what she eats won’t be helpful (I have a peeve about this myself, in a general way) because it probably will not change her behavior. For what it’s worth, though, I don’t think it’s really possible to “do more harm than good” and there’s also a chance that she would consider your comments or concern seriously if she does not *always* eat in such a restrictive way. I really don’t know, I think it’s a tossup. It was a much different scenario with me because I was young and impressionable, but nobody telling me to eat more food or that I was skinny enough already ever *hurt* and probably it helped at least a little bit, when it wasn’t done in a mean way, because comments like that made it psychologically easier for me to eat. On the one hand, comments like that can negatively contribute because they give the eating disordered person attention in reaction to her unhealthy behaviors, but the “attention” issue probably is less of a problem regarding an adult. Good luck and I’m sorry that you are in a difficult situation. I understand it is extremely upsetting to watch someone’s health suffer because of their eating habits.

        1. Not usually Anon*

          “Eating disorders have a very high rate of relapse and can be very difficult to get out of.”

          This. And everyone is so different. I was actively bulimic for 12+ years and while I now have been “non-practicing” for the last 22 years the mindset is still there every. single. day.

          This is why I chime in whenever there is a post about commenting on co-worker’s eating because while it’s not a big deal for most people it’s a really big trigger for many of us and this includes people you would never in a million years suspect to have an issue.

          I can’t imagine anything a co-worker could say to help me if I was practicing – and can think of a million things which would make it worse…so for me I’d err on the side of not saying anything.

          I don’t know that it’s right, but if it were me I’d want the privacy to deal with this very personal issue without involvement from people who don’t love me.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I was having an obvious shoulder issue that I chose not to discuss at work.

      One coworker asked me one of the most empowering question I have ever heard :”What do you think you CAN do about it? It’s a quality of life issue.”
      The question made me focus on proactives rather than negatives.
      If you do get caught in a convo with your coworker, perhaps this is a question to keep in mind.
      Puts you in a good place- you do not have to solve the problem. You just listen and nod a lot.

    3. Anon for now*

      Have you thought about making an appt with your EAP person for yourself? You could ask for coping strategies for yourself, & guidance as to what may or may not be appropriate or useful to say. You obviously care, & she knows it since you visited her in the hospital.

    4. Meg Murry*

      If you aren’t especially close to her, the besr thing you can do is treat her like any of your normal coworkers. Be nice to her, praise her work if she deserves it, invite her to join you for social events if you would invite othrr coworkers – just treat her nicely, but normally. She knows she has a problem, the best thing you can do is not comment on what she’s eating or how she looks, just stick to work & friendly conversation. She just wants to be “the hard worker in the accounting deparyment” not “the woman in accounting with the eating disorder”

      1. Ariancita*

        Yes, this! The worst thing you can do to someone with an eating disorder is to comment on their eating: what to eat/what not to eat/eating habits/etc. It will only ensure that she hides her eating from you.

        And besides the fact that it’s a serious illness that she struggles with, most people don’t appreciate anyone commenting on what they’re eating. For someone with an eating disorder, it’s a million times worse. The best thing you can do is treat her normally.

  10. Cass*

    Question about #3. I’m currently job hunting in my field (marketing). In my previous role, one of the things I did was launch/execute a social media campaign that coincided with a major event my company sponsored.

    I have the “hard copy” of the campaign, that gives a much better idea of the app’s design, functionality, participation, and success. Showing in this case, seems like it could have a much bigger impact over “telling”.

    Am I still better off leaving something like this at home? I don’t have a book full of pages and pages of random things.

  11. Mason*

    Two weeks notice is an overrated concept. When you’re getting let go by your employer, rarely do they give you any notice, so it’s unfair for the employee to have to do something different. If there’s not enough work to go around and you’re leaving, it makes good business sense for your employer to let you go as soon as they know about it. If you need their recommendation to secure future employment – lets assume you just have no one else on your resume – then follow their process of 2 weeks. Otherwise, I say turn in your resignation and make it effective immediately the last day you were going to go to work.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It IS an unfair concept, because you’re right that employers often don’t give people notice if they fire them or lay them off. That said, though, it’s still the professional convention, and if you don’t do it, you risk burning a bridge and harming your reputation in ways that can hurt you years later. Unfair, but reality.

    2. The IT Manager*

      But if you do what Mason suggests, at some point you will have quit with no notice at all of your most recent jobs on your resume and those are the people that will be providing your references.

    3. Mike*

      With the exception of lay-offs and termination for extremely grievous incidents, a good employer will give you notice prior to termination. All those write ups, poor performance evaluations, counseling, telling you that if you don’t improve you’ll be terminated; those are all forms of notices.

      I’m currently about to start my last week after giving more than two weeks notice. I’m really glad I gave more because it has given us time to transition the workload and knowledge to my coworkers. Those coworkers are the same ones that gave my glowing references and who are people I may very well work with again.

  12. The IT Manager*

    #5, Will giving notice guarantee me work until then?

    No. If you need to work up until your last day do not give such a long notice. It would be nice of you, but given that you are concerned that the current workload may lead to layoffs, a company will probably lay off the guy who has given notice already before someone else.

    I don’t think there’s any law that requires a company to keep you working and to pay out your notice period (even two weeks) like your letter implies there. If you’ve witnessed it, though, it may be your company’s policy or convention and you can use that in your planning and consider two weeks notice totally safe. (And its good common courtesy so companies should be doing this.)

  13. Meg Murry*

    #4 – if you buy plane tickets through Expedia or a similar service you often have the option to buy travel insurance that allows you to get your ticket price refunded if you cancel your trip. Read the fine print before you buy it to make sure voluntary cancelation is covered, but if you find an insurance policy that covers cancelations you would only be out $20-$30 for the trip insurance instead of the whole ticket cost

  14. kelly*

    #4, I am in the exact same boat as you are right now. Unemployed right now, I went ahead and purchased tickets to go home for the holidays about a month ago before the prices were completely out of control. (They’re always out of control, but I only paid slightly more this year than years in the past) I made sure I got the extra insurance so I can cancel my tickets and get a refund if I need to. It’s only $15-20 more. I’m hoping if I recieve a job offer before then I can negotiate the time off as part of my offer, even if I have to take that time unpaid.

    Another interesting thing I’ve noticed, because most companies have a skeleton crew at the holidays, companies seem pretty willing to let people have that week off. (unpaid though, unless you’ve saved vacation) But it wasn’t a known benefit until I got to the offer stage. The last two jobs I’ve had, the week between christmas and new years was a mandatory break week for all employees and offices were closed. It was awesome!

  15. Dee*

    Thanks for answering my brag book question Alison! I’ll likely end up handing over a few copies of my writing samples.

    @all-your feedback has been very helpful.

  16. Vicki*

    #2 “The only people who should be bringing portfolios to interviews are designers or their ilk.”

    And technical writers. Tech writers are expected to provide writing samples. If you’re not asked for writing samples, the company is making it clear that they _really_ need writers because they’ve never had one. :-)

  17. Chocolate Teapot*

    At a previous job, I handed in my (1 month) notice mid-December. I was informed that I would be leaving for my Christmas holidays but not returning for the remaining fortnight in January. However I was paid for this time, although I did have to sign to say that I would take up any other paid employment during the notice period.

  18. Chocolate Teapot*

    The notice periods are set by law, and “Gardening Leave” (or “Plantpot Leave” in my case since I don’t have a garden) is quite normal given that I was working with client information.

    It was rather nice to be able to start my Christmas holiday early though! Not to mention being able to send an email to everyone to say I was leaving (see the previous post on disappearing co-workers)

  19. Malissa*

    I know I’m a little late, I spent all weekend studying for the CPA exam. Which is relevant to the tax question. the big difference between going from the 15% bracket to the 25% bracket is that the capital gains rate on any investments you are planning to cash in on goes from 5% to 15%. So that extra $1,000 only nets a person an extra $750. If that person is looking at a capital gain over $8,000 in the next year, any benefit from the extra income is now gone. 15% of $8K is $1,200 versus 5% of $8K is $400.
    If the OP is planning on closing on a sale of a rental house, vacation home, or property sell other than their primary residence this could be an issue. Also the write-off that some mortgage lenders are doing on foreclosed houses is also considered capital gains. Just think about the consequences if a foreclosed home is sold at $50K less than the value of the loan.
    So while it may not seem like a big issue, it can be a HUGE issue.

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