tiny answer Tuesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

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

1. Applying for a job that you applied to a year and a half ago

I finished grad school last spring and applied for many jobs, got one job (first choice) about a year and a half ago. Now, due to a variety of things, I’m not loving my job and am looking again. Is it okay to apply for the same jobs at the same companies as I applied for originally? I was never contacted about them before, presumably due to limited experience given that I was right out of school. The job I have now is directly related and in the same field. Is it going to be weird if I apply for them again now?

Sure, it’s fine to apply again. I’ve hired re-appliers who didn’t even get interviewed the first time around — either because they become a stronger candidate in the interim or because the first time they applied there was a particularly competitive group of candidates or whatever.

2. People are stealing my pens!

I’m fairly new to my job, and if I’m being honest with myself regarding my situation, one of the lowest on the totem pole at my workplace. It’s not an ideal position for me, but I’m trying to make the best of it.

One of the things that I’ve found makes my work far more enjoyable is using pens that I like, i.e. nice gel pens (not fountain pens or Mont Blancs or anything crazy). I buy these personally, and have never asked a workplace to supply them for me, it’s just something I invest in for myself. I’m a fairly conscientious person and take good care of my belongings, so it’s worth the expense to have a decent writing instrument handy.

The problem is that I’m not the only person around here who enjoys good pens. I just had two walk off — one my direct supervisor borrowed and never returned, but for diplomatic reasons I was willing to let that one go. But today I saw one around the work ID lanyard of a coworker that definitely was just taken off my desk. (Yes, the pens are distinctive enough that the chance is very remote that he would suddenly have the same one right when mine disappeared). How would you recommend addressing this for the future? Should I invest in the pen equivalent of a locked lunchbox? :)

People are so used to thinking of non-Mont-Blanc-quality pens as communal office property that you’re going to have an uphill battle with this one, but I’d at least try keeping them in your desk rather than on your desk. It’s a rare person who will open someone’s desk and take things out of it.

And if you happen to spot one with someone else, exclaim with the same pleasure you’d use upon spotting your lost dog, “My pen!” And then reclaim it.

3. Employer asks for salary expectations on a resume

I’m working on an application that requests I include my salary requirements on my resume, that I will then email to HR. Personally I’d rather not include a figure in my resume because it just seems out of place, and I’m worried that placing requirements on the actual resume will distract from the content. Should I send a separate document detailing my salary requirements? Or put them in a cover letter (also not required for this application, but I’d like to send one as well)?

If they specifically said to put it on your resume, put it on your resume, not on a separate sheet or in your cover letter (even though yes, normally this would be inappropriate). Otherwise you’re just demonstrating that you don’t follow directions. But if they weren’t that specific, it’s fine to put it in the cover letter.

4. Following up when an interviewer offers feedback

I had a phone interview with a Senior Manager a couple of weeks back. The interviewer sounded friendly and the interview went well, but I did not make the cut. I sent her a thank-you email and asked for her feedback. She replied back, saying that she appreciates my interest in her feedback and would gladly call me back next week. It’s been more than three weeks now and she has not called me up. Should I drop in a reminder email to her or should I just forget about it? Her feedback could be of value to me but at the same time I don’t want to look pushy. What do you suggest?

Follow up once by email asking if there’s a good time to schedule a call for, but after that, drop it, since you don’t want to be too pushy when someone offers a favor.

5. Asking for a later start date

I currently have a job but I have received another job offer. I have already signed an offer letter and the new job requires me to start in 1 week. Would it be fine if I ask to delay the start date by another week? What would be the best reason(s) to give?

Well, but ideally you would have done this before signing the offer letter. Regardless, it’s fine to go back to them now and ask if you can give your current employer two weeks notice so that you don’t leave them in the lurch. It’s normal to negotiate these things as part of an offer; the complication here is that it sounds like you already agreed to the original terms, but if there wasn’t any negotiation of anything earlier, it’s not a disaster to ask about this now. Do it ASAP though; don’t wait.

6. Attending a company conference after giving notice

What is the proper etiquette in regard to attending a large company conference after I have turned in my resignation? They would like me to but I feel like I am misleading my team since they don’t know yet.

Why don’t you just tell your team? If there’s some reason you can’t, it’s still fine to go if your company wants you to, despite knowing you’re leaving soon. There’s nothing misleading about going to a conference.

7. Explaining flexible career goals

I have worked in the public policy field for about 4 years and I am currently applying to graduate school for a public administration degree. (A graduate degree is necessary to advance my career beyond the entry level.) I am interested in continuing to work in my field, but I don’t have any super-specific career goals. However, both in my application and in discussions with people, I am constantly asked about my career goals and I’m never quite sure how to respond.

Immediately after I graduated from college, I could have given you an answer like, “I want to be a senior White House advisor for health care,” or something like that. But after searching for two full time jobs and working for a few years, I know how ridiculous it is to plan a career based on the notion of working at any one particular organization. There is no guarantee that I will be hired by my dream organization, and in the course of a job search (and the course of a career), one’s goals often change and new opportunities are discovered and the doors to former dreams are closed.

That’s not to say I don’t have career goals; they are just far more flexible and less strictly defined than they were when I was a fresh graduate. I want to continue working in public policy, but I don’t particularly care if it’s in a think-tank, or in government, or in private consulting, or in a non-profit. I want grad school to give me a background and the analytical skills to find work in the field (isn’t that what it’s for?!), but I’ll let my career and expertise develop organically depending on what jobs I am able to get. So what do I say in my application, and what do I tell people when asked what my career goals are? “I’ll take what I can get,” doesn’t exactly inspire admissions officers to open the doors to their school.

This is completely normal; don’t feel weird about it. Most people who have spent any time in the working world know that it’s usually far more practical to have somewhat flexible career goals. Yes, occasionally someone does have a super-specific I-want-this-specific-job-in-this-specific-organization type goal, but it’s far more common for people to have the sort of flexibility you’re describing.

You don’t want to say “I’ll take what I can get,” of course, but it’s completely reasonable to say something like, “I want to continue working in public policy.” As you get more experience and more exposure to what paths do and don’t appeal to you (and are and aren’t realistic for you), you’ll probably refine that a bit, but really, that answer is just fine.

{ 111 comments… read them below }

  1. Anony*

    Re: 2. People are stealing my pens!

    I like using my own pens b/c I am OCD! I would keep my pens in the desk drawl too unless you share your desk space (such as a receptionist desk) then I would just keep it in my hand or pocket.

    1. Anonymous*

      Put your name on the pens! Make a flag label with a post-it and tape. One co-worker did this because she was always leaving her pens in the conference room. And sure enough, it always got returned.

      In fact, a few of us played a friendly prank on another coworker where we labelled a bunch of pens with his name and left them in the ladies bathroom, in the fridge, and a few meeting rooms. It was pretty funny when several people continued to parade to his cube to return “his” pens.

      1. Anony*

        What nice people you have in your office!

        Me personally, I wouldn’t want the pens back b/c other people already touched them.

          1. Jamie*

            I know what Anony means. People put pens in their mouths, bring them into the bathroom with them…there is a certain squick factor involved.

      2. Elise*

        Or if you feel weird labeling your supplies, just tie a colorful ribbon or yarn to the end like a tassel. That way, it indicates the pen belongs to someone and makes it less awkward when you point out that someone has ‘found’ your pen.

        The decoy pen trick is important too. They are just grabbing it because it is a pen and available. A ready pen cup and your pen in your drawer should pacify most of the pen thieves.

        1. Esra*

          The decoy is absolutely key. Have a crap pen out for people to use/potentially steal.

          At design school I put a blob of red nail polish on all my stuff, that worked well for me. Sharpie/nail polish/anything that’s hard to remove.

          1. Anonymous*

            Sharpie can be really easy to remove, depending on the surface. An enterprising fellow just might be devious enough to remove and re-brand, as it were.

            (I will have a tape gun one way or another!!!!!)

      3. patricia*

        Years ago I used to sit by the printer, and people would always walk off with my pens. I used my printer access to print out labels for my pen that said ‘this is not your pen please put it back where you found it’ (obviously I used a tiny font size). It worked well, no one ever took my pens again.

    2. Lanya*

      I have had great success in solving this problem by keeping my pens in my desk drawer, out of sight. No more stolen pens!

      1. Lisa*

        Why don’t you ask for the office to supply these clearly in demand pens? Tell the person who buys supplies that you normally buy them yourself but they always get borrowed and never make it back to you. If a lot of people like the pens, then make the office pay for them. Unless they are $14 / pc, I don’t see any office with as many people as you are describing having an issue switching from buying blah pens for really good ones.

      2. Kelly L.*

        I hide my good pens too. And then I set out a cup of plain Bics on my desk. Everyone still borrows them, but somehow the plain Bics always come back and my Sarasas don’t. Ha! I’ve even set out awful pens in the hope that someone would steal them–awkwardly sized promotional pens that write too jerkily, that sort of thing–and they turn up again like a bad penny. Just not my nice gel pens.

  2. Frenchie*

    Re: #2/stealing pens

    I have a habit leaving items places so I have taken to putting my name on them with a return address label or magic marker. I actually purchased pens with my name on them so they are easy to reclaim when I spot them.

  3. AG*

    Regarding the pens, the best way to deal with this when you see someone who has your pen is to be friendly/jokey about it when you say “hey is that my pen?” I do empathize, I like certain pens and hate losing them!

    Also yes, keep them *in* your desk. Keep some crappy decoy pens in the cup on your desk so that if someone needs to grab one they have one available.

    One thing that has always worked for me is to try to just be using one pen at a time. If it’s your main/only pen, you have a better chance of knowing where it is and keeping track of it.

    1. Vicki*

      re: decoy pens

      This is what I do/. Company-supplied pens readily visible in a pen/pencil cup in the desk. Good roller ball gel pens hidden from immediate view.

      1. Lisa*

        I have a favorite pen with a client logo on it, I get so disappointed when they run out of ink and steal more when I visit that client for meetings. if my boss grabs one off my desk, I yank it back and give them a diff pen. That’s my ‘client’ pen, you cant have that ..i wont get it back. he laughs, and then others will use my pen or find a diff ‘client’ pen and throw it my way cause i make it known that I like that pen.

  4. Beth*

    I once had a boss that took my pens … even ones with my name on them. I kept them in my desk. Yes, he would go in my desk and take them. I then placed a small packet of tampons in my desk on top of the pens. They never disappeared again.

  5. KayDay*

    I love that all the comments are about the pens. Because I like my pens. And I buy them myself. I’ve put flags on my old employer’s pens before (because the clients would steal them) and they were still there years after I left. But flags would hurt the aesthetics of my pens. So, while I keep my pens in my desktop organizer thingie, I also keep lots of decoy office pens around. That works for my office, but if I had more thieving coworkers, I would probably take to obnoxiously reminding people that my pens are special (I have no shame about some things).

    If you wanted to go the mature route, you could probably politely ask for them back. (e.g. “hey, I know this seems petty, but I really like that specific type of pen and buy them myself. Would you mind giving it back.”) If enough people realize how awesome your pens are, but that they can’t take them from you, perhaps your office will start purchasing them for everyone!

  6. Blinx*

    Re: Pens. You could also just let them go, spreading joy and happiness everywhere. Buy them in bulk online. Get a few boxes so that you’re never without “your” pen. And every time you see someone using one of the pens you’ve “provided”, give yourself a secret smile.

    Now then. Who took my scissors???

      1. Anonymous*

        I have two analysts on my team; I bought them both the special red swinglines from Amazon. They’re GORGEOUS. And then asked/reminded them not to burn the building down, pretty please.

  7. Confused*

    I like a good pen so I feel for you. Not defending your coworkers (because if it’s in/on your desk, they should ask first) but maybe they don’t know you paid for them. If “lowest on the totem pole at my workplace” translates at all to “new to the work force” in general, just a suggestion to not dwell too much on stuff like this. It will impact how your coworkers see you. I get it to some degree but don’t get all Columbo :)

    1. Vicki*

      > maybe they don’t know you paid for them

      If the only place they’ve seen one like it is the OPs desk and there aren’t any in the supply cabinet and they can’t still figure out that it’s not a “company” pen… they need more help than we can provide.

      1. Jamie*

        I disagree…for a lot of us a pen is just a thing to write with and were not paying any attention to what kind it is (fountain and engraved sets excepted.)

        Seriously, I have no freaking idea what kind of pens are in the supply closet – there are a couple kinds (although not my mild preference for med point papermate -the cheap ones- since as soon as she knew I liked them she stopped ordering them. I feel a vendetta coming on.)

        So while I don’t take pens off the desks of others, I’ve certainly picked them up in the conference room or whatever and it would never occur to me to track down an owner of a gel pen…I’d just assume it was company owned.

        As an aside, after the pen discussion here last week I googled the fountain pens someone was talking about, holy crap those are expensive! I now want to write with one just to see what it’s like – kind of like how I’d like to drive a Jag once to see how it feels. The day I spend $60 and up for a pen it had better make me write like Jane Austin!

        1. moss*

          It’s totally worth it though. No skipping, the ink can prettily flocculate and it makes a person’s handwriting better, I swear! Plus the weight of the pen itself is pleasant in the hand.

              1. Anonymous*

                My handwriting has been compared to the results of having a caffeinated spider swim in ink, and then run across a page :-)

  8. Maria*

    But why should the OP fund a batch of pens for the office out of her own pocket? :) Presumably, she doesn’t take things from their desk. I’d stash them at the back of a lower drawer.

      1. Worker Bee*

        Have a pen cup on your desk with the pens that the office supplies and keep your own in your desk. Preferably hidden.

  9. KarenT*


    Seriously, I’d keep the pens in my purse and have only one in my desk drawer. Sounds paranoid but man I’ve been there! And always have cheapies all over your desk as decoys.

    On a more practical note, could you say to your supervisor, “hey, I brought these pens from home and people also seem to love them. My stock is running low since people keep taking them. Can we order a box?”

      1. #2 OP*

        I wish, but I’m fairly certain it wouldn’t happen – just got an email yesterday saying due to budget restrictions no raises (COL or merit) for 2013.

  10. Cassie*

    I leave my pens and other supplies in my drawer, aside from the pen(s) that I’m currently using. I was tired of having to hunt down my supplies – a coworker once took my calculator and I spotted it on her shelf when I was talking to her in her office.

    It helps to have some generic pens that people can just “borrow” – I have an inbox where students turn in documents for me and I leave a pen or two in the box. Also, sometimes I’ll find a pen or two on my desk (once someone left a ruler) – I just leave them over there since I’m not going to use them (generic ballpoints that they are) and if the person comes back looking for it, it’ll be right there waiting for them.

  11. Kate*

    As a current grad student in public policy, I’d recommend an answer more like “I want to (continue to) work in health policy, particularly related to women’s health and health care reform.” Similar phrasings worked well for me in my applications last year! Although you probably don’t know what organization you want to work for after grad school, I’m sure you have some ideas of specific areas of public policy that interest you more than others. Focus on these applications of policy – and it’s ok if they don’t directly relate to your work experience as long as you have some reason for your interest.

    1. Bowmn*

      I am not in the field of public policy – so my advice may not be appropriate to your field. However, as a two time grad student (and graduate), I strongly recommend having a solid idea of where you want your graduate degree to take you. Whether it’s a sector (such as the vague field of healthcare) or job duties (management/ specific policy writing tasks).

      Graduate school goes by far quicker than undergrad, and having a solid idea of what you want out of grad school really helps make the experience more valuable professionally speaking.

      1. OP #7*

        thanks, both of you. I became really paranoid after speaking to some who was asking if I wanted to work in the government or non profit fields, and I really don’t have a preference–they both have jobs very relevant to my interests. So I feel a lot better now.

        I’ve actually held off on going to grad school for 3 years (and been thinking about it for 5) because I didn’t feel that I had a specific enough idea of what I wanted to do. At this point, I can’t really advance in my career without a graduate degree, and I don’t think I’m going to come up with a more specific “dream” of what I want to be when I grow up. In fact, the longer I have worked, the less sure I have become. (And I am trying to get my degree funded mostly from other sources, because public policy isn’t known for it’s high pay).

        1. Emily*

          I work as a graduate advisor, granted for area studies and not specifically public policy. My standard advise for statements of purpose is to show us/the admissions committee why you want this degree and how it fits into your career plans. This doesn’t have to be a defined path with one ultimate goal. In fact, what you describe is (a) normal for applicants and (b) a good answer. (apart from the “I don’t particularly care if it’s…”) If you know what kind of public policy you want to pursue, and in what general venue, that is good.

          As you stated, further defining of skills and goals is a part of graduate school. Plus, the kind of positions that will be available and viable for long-term careers when you graduate can’t be guaranteed when you are applying.

        2. spellcheck "public"*

          I have felt it particularly rewarding working in x field and would like to advance my skills & abilities in this as well as build analytical knowledge to support my work in public policy. Though x field could take me in many different directions, I have only had experience in govt (or y or z) and love the opportunity that this area of policy allows me to be flexible in current employment sectors.

          Anyway. If you have an undergrad degree in something close to policy, you probably wont learn much of anything new, it’s just the line on your resume that counts. (To be at an advantage, get good at writing memos.)

        3. Dana*

          I have a public policy grad degree and I’d recommend making sure you go to a program with a really good career office. I’m really not saying this to sound like a snob or an elitist- because I’m not. I went to a large state school with no connections and while I loved it and learned a ton, it provided zero help with networking or job prospects. I now work at a Big 10 university with a very highly regarded policy school and the students really do seem to fare much better career-wise, especially right out of school.

          I tend to think that in policy work, strong networks are increasingly important.. not that they aren’t in other fields, but having seen the difference between my school and the one I’m working at now, it has become even more obvious..

          1. N*

            This is particularly important if you want to work in DC/federal government. Policy schools with strong connections to DC/a record of working with government recruiters & programs are invaluable when trying to find a job. Most of the top schools have these kinds of resources. Also check to see if the policy school has a career website separate from the general university site – also a great resource when it comes time to look for jobs.

  12. jesicka309*

    I’ve been there for #2 but it was with a notebook.
    I was a casual assistant that had my own desk, though I knew that they got work experience kids to use my computer when I wasn’t there. I kept it pretty tidy, with just a pen tin, and a pretty notebook I brought from home to write my notes in. I left it at work because I was afraid I’d forget it, and the notebooks they provided were giant A4 monstrosities…not the kind of thing I wanted for notetaking in informal meetings!
    They hired an external temp one day randomly (I was getting the hint they were pushing me out). I frequently came to work to find her at my computer, and was told *shrug* can’t you find something else to do not on a computer? Err no, that’s my desk, and you’re preventing me from doing my job?
    The final straw came when on a weekend shift I came in to find extensive notes written by her in my notebook. MY NOTEBOOK. That had pretty little patterns all over it and was clearly not the standard office issue. And she was just writing her crap in it.
    I had a mini freak out (thank god it was a Saturday) and ripped the pages out of the book (carefully) and stapled them together. I left them sitting in a nice pile on the desk, and my notebook lived in my handbag for the short time I remained there. She got them hint that using my computer on days I was rostered was A Bad Idea, and it was enough to make me look for another job. After I quit they took her on full time, something I’d been begging for months to do.
    The point is, sometimes people using your stuff is harmless. Sometimes it’s a sign of other little power plays going on.

  13. Melanie*

    I’m glad you asked this question. I have had a similar question myself. During an interview recently I felt stumped on that question to the point it may have been one of the reasons I didn’t get the position. My answer of, “I’m open to whatever opportunity arises,” I thought may have sounded more flaky than flexible. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t have their path set in stone!

  14. Ryan*

    I have to get to bed so I’m not reading through all that tonight…but the PENS!!! OH THOSE DASTARDLY PEN THIEVES!!!

    To be quite frank…I am a bit of a lunatic when it comes to pens – I have a firmly held belief that it’s genetic…I won’t re-tell that whole story but it involves my mother, the pen isle in Wal-Mart and some surprising revelations regarding the fates of many of my writing utensils when I was younger…AHEM…Anyway…

    Stand on your desk (figuratively…if not literally) hold your pens aloft and proclaim clearly “THESE ARE MY PENS…I BOUGHT THEM…DON’T TOUCH THEM WITHOUT MY PERMISSION.”

    I may have my quirks but you will not steal my damn pens and everybody knows they’re mine. If the worst thing someone can say about me is “he doesn’t like it when people steal his things.” oh well golly gee whiz…I’m SO SORRY.

    Stand up for yourself and your pens!


    Coworker “May I borrow one of your pens?”

    You “No…but you can have one of these cheap pieces of crap the company provides us with ” (I’d paraphrase this but you get the gist)

        1. Ryan*

          BUT…I do have a red swingline stapler and that is not a joke. Still wanna mess with me? Where’s your guacamole? hahahah

  15. Leslie*

    I’ve had the problems with pen stealing coworkers too, but I found that it’s not enough to merely label them with your name or initials. I used the office label maker to leave extremely creepy notes on all of my favorite office supplies. On my favorite box cutter for example, was a label that said “I am a box cutter. More specifically, I am Leslie’s box cutter. I can hear your thoughts. You don’t want to do that. Just put me back on the desk.”

    Everything of mine that I liked and didn’t want my coworkers to steal had similar notes. I’m not sure why, but no one ever stole anything that I labeled.

  16. the gold digger*

    Wow. I work for a nonprofit that does not supply free coffee for employees and where even the CEO flies coach, but it didn’t even occur to me to buy my own nice gel pens. I started out with the crummy pens in the supply closet, but finally asked the admin if she would order me the Good Pens.

    She did, without asking any questions. I have an entire box of them in my desk. I wouldn’t mind if people took my pens (although not out of my desk drawer – and the combination of minipads, aspirin, and Splenda stashed in there is probably enough to deter most people) because I know I could get more. And I didn’t pay for them.

    1. Jamie*

      Two references to tampons and pads in a desk drawer, which brings to mind a question and a thought:

      1. Isn’t it easier to keep them in your purse since you have to transport them to the ladies room anyway? I guess I’d just hate to open my desk drawer with someone in my office if stuff like that was in there. Maybe it’s just me.

      B. THIS is why every woman should have her own drawer in the ladies room. That’s the best workplace perk ever!

      1. K*

        I keep mine in a bottom “personal item” desk drawer that I never have reason to open when other people are around. If someone is snooping and finds them – well, it’s not a secret I’m a woman. :-) (My reasoning is that it’s more convenient to just have an entire package at work, as well as a bottle of ibuprofun so I don’t have to guess how much I’ll need and transport it once a month.)

        1. KellyK*

          Same here. I have a “personal items” desk drawer with basic OTC meds (advil, cough drops, etc.), hand sanitizer, bandaids, hairbrush, etc.

      2. Judy*

        A few years before I worked here, apparently there was a thief in the office. The women managed to convince someone to put in a set of the square lockers in the ladies room, and everyone kept their purses (unlocked) in there. None of the women ever had anything else stolen. (They apparently knew who it was and when he left, they stopped using it for that.) Now we pretty much just keep pads / tampons / brushes / toothbrushes in there, and it’s great. I’d assume that everyone forgot about it, because the other ladies rooms in the building do not have lockers.

        1. Anonymous*

          As a bit of a germaphobe, I can’t believe people would be keeping toothbrushes in communal lockers like that :)

        2. KayDay*

          I have always thought lockers in the ladies room would be a great idea; I am both happy that it happens at some places and sad that I am not the unique genius I thought I was.

          I’ve always found it’s more discrete to keep a box of personal items in my desk and put one in my pocket (or up my sleeve) to take to the ladies room. Carrying my purse to the ladies room at work seems strange (and really obvious). I work with mostly women, though, so it’s not that big a deal for me.

      3. Anonymous*

        re: Tampons in desk drawers. I have a small purse/bag, and it’s often very cluttered. As I am ‘irregular’, I try to keep tampons close by, just in case. I find if I keep tampons in my bag, they get squished, or the wrappers open, or they fall out at the most inappropriate times. Keeping them in my bottom drawer means that they’re always there if I need them, but I’m not carrying them around all the time. It’s also useful if any coworkers/clients have an unexpected need for them – I know from experience that being caught unawares and not having any products around at all is an embarrassing nightmare.

      4. Natalie*

        I’m the worst at remembering to refill my stash of tampons, ibuprofen, allergy pills… you name it. I have forgotten to bring that new bottle of ibuprofen to work for weeks in a row. So I have necessaries stashed *everywhere*.

      5. Esra*

        I change purses and am terrible at remembering to refill supplies, so each purse has pads, painkillers, and dog poop bags, as does my desk. I’d rather be overstocked than be without any of those three things when I need them.

      6. Elizabeth West*

        I kept a package of them in the ladies room, in a drawer in a cabinet next to the sink. I just bought the generics, and said anyone could use them. Of course, there were only like four women in the whole company, and one of them was past the age where she needed them. I did remember to get them when I left!

      7. Agile Phalanges*

        Our old office had no place for “supplies” to be kept in the restroom, and not even a dispenser or anything, so I purchased a couple of cheap bins with lids that snap closed from Target (or wherever) and put them on the floor in each stall, then e-mailed all the women in the office that they were welcome to keep stuff in there. If you stashed in BOTH stalls, you wouldn’t even have to choose one stall over the other at that time of the month.

        We built and moved into a new office, and now each gender-specific bathroom has a LARGE stall with a shower, and also quite a few lockers. Those of us who don’t need the lockers for anything other than that purpose, though, can just put our supplies in a bin on top of the lockers. It means you have to use that stall during that time (and it can be quite busy after the daily lunchtime workouts!), but I agree–it’s a nice perk! I assume the men’s room has the lockers, too, but it’s not quite such a perk for them. :-)

      8. Jen in RO*

        For me, it goes like this: I have a pad in my purse. I have to use it in an emergency. I forget to replace it. Two months later, another emergency, no pad, no pharmacy/store near the office. Last time that happened, I just stashed a whole pack in my drawer (hidden under boxes of tea). Since I work in a team of women, I also let them know that they’re free to use them if they need.

  17. dangitmegan*

    All I can think of now is the Cooperative Calligraphy episode of Community where someone keeps stealing Annie’s gel pens and she holds everyone hostage until they’re returned.

    1. Anonymous*

      As I read the scenario, I assumed they were purple pens and that there might be a monkey on the loose…

  18. Sharon*

    Regarding #3: I admit I’m old and cynical, but I hate employers who want your salary requirements up front. You just KNOW they’re going to look at that first and then decide whether or not to then look at your experience. What the process is supposed to be is that they evaluate your experience and interview the best people and then begin negotiations for compensation. I understand that they do this to quickly get rid of the people who hugely inflate their asking price, but then they get lazy and don’t even negotiate with anybody.

    These days the way this is going I think job ads should say nothing more than “Business analyst opening, $25K/year take it or leave it”. LOL

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I have a problem with employers asking for salary history, but I don’t see what’s wrong with them asking for salary requirements. If you’re hiring someone for, say, work around your house, you want to know how much you’ll need to pay them, right? It’s a primary consideration. It’s no more unreasonable for employers to want to know how much you’re seeking to earn. Similarly, when jobs do post salaries, many/most people will look at that as a primary factor in whether they apply. Money matters, on both sides, and it’s not crazy to ask about it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, but then they won’t tell you what the job pays, and you go all out for an interview and then don’t find out until they make an offer that you can’t even afford the gas to get to work. I hate that. It’s such a waste of their time and mine.

  19. BCW*

    Wow, I had no idea people had such an attachment to pens. I don’t go out of my way to steal them, but I’ve defintely picked them up from conferences rooms or by the copier and never thought twice about it. I guess I should stop doing that lol

  20. Lisa*

    OP – Please tell us which pens you use?? They are clearly so awesome that you should be spreading the joy that is a Staples / Office Max / Amazon link to said pens.

    This is one of those days, when AAM should have an Amazon link that gives her a % of what people buy on Amazon that originated from this blog. You could be making money off these office supply posts! I am so intrigued, if OP answers what type of pens she is referring to, that I will buy a pack to try them out.

    1. Paige*

      Agreed. I am a pen fanatic and also am so curious about the pens that each person finds wonderful. I would totally use an Amazon affiliate link from this blog.

      Personally, I like a Pilot brand Dr. Grip that can be refilled with a black G2 gel 0.7 mm insert.

    2. #2 OP*

      Hi Lisa!

      Let’s see. (I really love pens – will try to keep this simple)

      I’ve liked the Uni-ball Vision Exact – Micro Point for a long time. You can’t find them in stores where I live so I have to order them online. It’s old stock now, I think. But they’re my favorite for work, writing down scientific notations and such.

      For everyday longhand writing I have a Kaweco Classic Sport that suits me.

      1. Lisa*

        Kaweco is $23-$36 / pen – damn! Rip those out of the greedy co-workers hands and announce how expensive they are AND that you paid for them!

        Uni-ball is $20 per 12 pack so more reasonable. Just ask your supply person to buy a bunch of those for the office since everyone likes them.

        Thanks op!

      1. Mike C.*

        Here’s the three I’ve been talking about:

        TWSBI Diamond 540: http://amzn.to/QqoAYa
        TWSBI Vac 700: http://bit.ly/Ttk7Vm
        Sheaffer 300: http://amzn.to/Y5CV0C

        Obviously this is a hobby as well as something I use every day. On the other hand I don’t buy any other pens and I get to play with all sorts of inks. Not only different colors, but inks that once dry won’t bleach/wash out. Also, they just feel better! It’s more like painting than writing.

      2. Omne*

        Normally I use a Uni-Ball Deluxe fine point. If I need to write smaller I use the Uni-Ball Roller Deluxe micro point.

    3. KayDay*

      I really liked the Uni-ball Micro point pens, too. Those used to be my pens. But then I found that these pens: http://www.staples.com/BIC-Triumph-537R-Rollerball-Pens-Fine-Point-Black-Dozen/product_811464 by Bic, are great, and cheaper ($17.99/dozen compared to $24.49/dozen for uni-ball). They also sell them at CVS. These are the pens that are my pens currently.

      In addition to my pens, I also have preferred cheapies that I encourage my office to order. I like the RSVP pens for extra fine point pens (yes, the ink is thin/dries up quickly) and the BIC Atlantis (do they still make them?) for medium point.

      I <3 office supplies!

      1. Jamie*

        BIC Atlantis (do they still make them?) for medium point.

        I just got through approving an invoice with one – so yes, they still make them. I love the color (pink) but when I bought them I thought the ink was blue – but the ink is pink as well.

        Oh well, makes it easier to find my invoice approvals in a pile – they kind of stand out now.

        1. KayDay*

          I didn’t even know they came in pink. I’ve only seen black, blue, and a multi-package that also had red and green.

          Maybe they merged it with the Bic for her line?

  21. Marie*

    My part time job is selling pens (and other items, but mainly pens) so I have a wide range of quality and price pens at work (full time position). I keep them in my desk, and the 3 best I have, wich I use every day are in a pouch that I open up and put back every day.

    I work with mens for the most part so they are not enclined to walk away with my bright pink fountain/BP pen.

    I do have a box of regular papermate that I offer when someone comes to see me to sign documents.

      1. Marie*

        The barrel….

        I write with Herbin’s purple in my FP and Caran D’Arche blue for the BP to be exact

        I have a lot of other pens/colors that I sometimes use to write specific notes, but they are always put away….

        1. Mike C.*

          Which FP(s) are you using on a daily basis?

          I’m using a Sheaffer 300 (Fine) and a TWSBI 700 Vac (Fine). Had to set aside the 540 as I dropped it and need to replace the nib housing, but no big deal.

          As far as ink is concerned I’m using Noodler’s Eel Blue in the Vac, and a mix of Eel Blue, Eel Black and Baystate Blue in the 300.

          1. Marie*

            I have a few, but the one I use daily and I’m not afraid to just leave at the office is My lamy Safari XF ed 2009

  22. Malissa*

    My pen holder on my desk is a flower pot filled with beans. The good pens get a flower attached to them with florist’s tape and placed in the pot. I’ve never had a pen go missing.

  23. Elizabeth West*

    Re reapplying:

    Not exactly the same thing, but it’s maddening to see a job you applied to and interviewed for get reposted. Rawr!

    Re pens:

    This happens a lot to front desk people. My old boss used to come up and use my personal hand sanitizer all the time, without asking, instead of the giant bottle the company bought. I finally had to hide it in my drawer to keep her from using it.

    1. jesicka309*

      YES! This. One sales assistant role at my work has constant turnover – no joke, they have to rehire every 2-3 months. So I figured, hey, I’ll apply, I’ve been here two years so surely they’d be appreciative of someone that would actually stay…
      Alas, I didn’t even get an interview. According to HR I don’t have enough admin, data entry and clerical experience (after 2 years as a data entry clerk in their own company!).
      I now realise why they have such high turnover, they’re hiring grossly over qualified people for an essentially entry level role. So now every time this job is reposted because someone quit I am going to internally fume!

      1. Chris Hogg*

        “According to HR….”

        Unless one is seeking a job in the HR department, it is best to avoid that department (like the plague) when looking for a job, either internally or externally.

        Can you find the manager of the sales assistant position, get an informal appointment with him or her, express your interest in the job, and ask four or five questions about what the requirements the manager (not HR) has?

        Doing this can lead to a couple of outcomes: you find out you’re actually underqualified; you find out you’re actually overqualified; you find out you don’t really want the job; you get a call from the manager the next time the job is open, with either an interview invitation or a job invitation.

        1. jesicka309*

          Ahh I wish I could do that. Unfortunately, I’d applied for a different position and was rejected, and HR kindly put my resume into the pile for the sales assistant position, knowing that I’d missed the deadline because of the first position. So I had no way around it, and there’s also the problem of internal interviews. I can’t approach the hiring manager without sending red flags to EVERYONE that I’ve applied for the job, or are at least interested.
          HR wanted me to get the job, as I’m *this* close to just walking out, but the hiring managers weren’t interested. *sigh* They’re going to have a chat when they’ve finished this round of hiring…HR are surprisingly good here. With the high turnover they have up in sales, I’m almost positive that there’s a problem with their hiring managers. As I’ve said in previous threads, why hire bright eyed uni grads when you’re just going to give them that’s more suited to someone with no ambition? Do you want them to quit, or become disengaged? So silly.

          1. Chris Hogg*

            One, you’re very fortunate to have a good HR staff. Very fortunate. Have you thanked them for their service?

            Two, if you’re so close to leaving anyway, I don’t understand why interviewing a / the hiring manager would be a problem, especially if it’s done as an informational interview. It might give you an insight why this particular job appears broken, and might give you some good information if you do decide to leave.

  24. JillianJigs*

    As the office pen thief- please, tell us! I often absent mindedly pick up coworker’s pens and never return them. The bottom of my purse is a pen graveyard.

    1. Jamie*

      Confession: Because of this thread I went through my pen cup and found 6 gel pens which I had to have picked up from somewhere over the last couple of years – since I don’t buy them. I put them back in the supply closet.

      To Jillian’s point – yes, just say something. If someone had ever said to me, hey can I have my pen back? I’d hand it over.

    2. TW*

      I find the many pen-related comments to be highly amusing. I admit I am a reformed pen thief. In my previous job I was a front desk admin in a medical office and my coworkers would walk off with my pens after signing things or writing notes from my desk constantly. As a response I sort of got in the habit of keeping the pens I picked up from their desks throughout the day and bringing them back to my desk. It all seemed to work out in the end and everyone had a reasonable number of pens. All that changed when I was promoted to a new department and no longer the admin. But I still kept unconsciously walking off with pens I was using (not nice pens, think drug rep-esq pens). After the first week I thought “Why do I have so many pens at my desk?” Oh that’s right no one else is taking them away from me so I don’t have to horde them. So now I actually will return the pens I take without thinking.

  25. Jessica*

    I buy my own, special pens (that are pricier than the normal work pens that my employer purchases) also. I write my name on a little piece of paper and then wrap tape around it several times, so you can still see the name but it doesn’t just get rubbed off. This may sound odd, but I had so many of these not-inexpensive pens walk off my desk simply because so many people tried them and loved them. I try to keep costs down by buying refills instead of just all new pens, and I’d rather not have to buy new pens every two weeks. (I was always surprised what walked away from my desk, even though my office was locked and was supposed to be off-limits when I wasn’t in there. Very odd. I’d come back to find all my post-its gone, all the pencils, my ruler, my staple remover, etc.) I’ve taken to locking up most of the stuff I purchase myself (mugs, pen refills, coffee) when I’m out of the office and put my name on the things I use all the time that stay out on my desk (mainly just my pen). Of course, I also work somewhere that someone has started stealing people’s lunches (frozen dinners, bags of food, leftovers, etc.) and where everyone argues over who should clean out the fridge (why doesn’t the person who spilled whatever clean it out?), so I just take a cooler with my lunch in it every day and forgo what I have dubbed the “fridge drama” of theft and cleaning. ;~)

    Bear in mind that I work in a private school and my coworkers are mainly teachers and administrators. Students do not have access to closed offices or the staff fridges.

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