holiday open thread

Traffic here goes way down in the days before and after Christmas, but here’s an open thread for those of you who are still around and reading.

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything you want to talk about.

{ 354 comments… read them below }

  1. Lisa*

    OK, I have one: Out of town interview etiquette? It’s likely that a company out of state will be flying me out to interview next month. They are paying for travel. What are the differences in etiquette here vs. an in-town interview?

    1. Amanda*

      I would imagine a lot of common sense applies…don’t ask them to pay for a night on the town at clubs/bars, be “on” all the time you’re there, even when you’re not interviewing.

      When I went out of state to interview for my current job, it was also important to my interviewers that I was familiar with the area and showed that I did love it – it’s more rural and isolated, and being able to speak to that as my ideal location meant a lot to them. (I was living in a large city before, and they didn’t want candidates to come and then burn out on the country living.)

      For me, for that interview, it was also important to decline the reimbursement they offered me, as it was a small nonprofit that could use the money better elsewhere and I could arrange to stay with friends nearby. (I drove myself, as it wasn’t too far.) I’m honestly not sure that it made a difference in my candidacy one way or another, but it felt like the right thing to do, to show them I was aware that budgets are tight and also that I had community connections.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Good point about the rural jobs. If they tell you there is no night life– they really mean that. No pizza, nothing. It’s easy to let that little detail slip by and then find out later… whoops.

        1. Lisa*

          Ha, this is the opposite… I’m a suburbia/country girl and this is the big city. There WILL be culture shock.

      2. Lisa*

        Thank you! I agree, common sense seems to handle most situations well :) This is a big corporation and a pretty senior position (and a flight to an expensive city) but I think the same principle of awareness applies.

    2. Coelura*

      There really isn’t a difference in etiquette. You still need to be professional. I recommend getting in early, just as with an in-town interview. Sometimes the company will arrange for you to spend more time in the office meeting the team & getting a better feel of the culture. If not, I recommend spending any extra time exploring the area particularly if you are not familiar with it.

    3. Wilton Businessman*

      Use the company’s money like you were going to have to pay for it out of pocket.

      Knowing that you’re coming from out of town, they will probably give you some flexibility in terms of when you arrive and will probably bend around your travel schedule. For example, some managers only interview in the afternoon. If you are coming from across the country, obviously that’s not going to happen.

      Usually, when companies fly you in they are investing a serious amount of cash in you vs. other candidates. Depending on the time of day, they may even try to wine and dine you.

      Everything else remains the same. Be professional, answer their questions truthfully, and express interest in the job.

      Good luck!

    4. badger_doc*

      Be curteous all the time, even to hotel staff! Sometimes larger corporations have corporate rates at the local hotels and they can easily find out how you treated the staff there. Also, don’t drink if you are taken out to dinner. Even if your host has a drink. And if you are given an expense sheet to fill out, turn it in in a timely fashion. That’s about all the advice I have! Good luck!

      1. Lisa*

        Good to know about drinks! I don’t drink and always feel awkward turning a drink down — glad that’s the RIGHT move here.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In addition to the other good suggestions here, I would also add: Keep your non-interviewing plans flexible. If they’re paying for the travel, you should be available when they want you to be. So if you, say, make plans to see a friend who lives there for dinner and at the last minute the company invites you to dinner, you should cancel with your friend so you can accept the invitation. (Obviously, let your friend know in advance that this might happen.)

      1. Lisa*

        Agree, very good point! I do have friends and professional contacts I’d like to make time to see while I’m there, but I’ll definitely forewarn them that I’ll cancel if the company wants me to go somewhere.

    6. Interviewee*

      Not really etiquette, but a suggestion- bring 2 sets of interview clothes! I recently traveled to an interview, and was asked to come back the next day to talk with more people (previously unscheduled). I was glad I brought 2 interview outfits, so that I didn’t have to choose between wearing the same thing the next day or dressing too casually.

      1. badger_doc*

        Good idea! Also, if they are picking you up or having a car service pick you up at the airport, don’t travel in your sweats. Try to look as nice and presentable as possible. If you are renting a car, no big deal though.

    7. KarenT*

      Bring your luggage in your carry on if you can. Not a great time for the airline to lose your suitcase! Bring lots of professional clothes, in case they do invite you in for a second round of interviews or out for dinner.

    8. Jubilance*

      Like other commenters have said, out-of-town interviews generally have the same etiquette rules. Here’s my tips:
      *If you have the option, fly in the night before. That way you have all night to rest/relax/review/etc. I once flew in the morning for an afternoon interview, and I was rushed coming from the airport to the site & felt flustered.
      * Try to grab dinner in the hotel – it helps with staying relaxed.
      * Arrange transportation to your interview so that you arrive early.

      Best of luck!

    9. Josh S*

      Since you’re flying into a big, expensive city, be prepared with information on your desired salary (as you should be for any interview, since it’s a likely question to have come up), and make sure you take into account the difference in cost of living!

      1. Lisa*

        This is something that I’m really nervous about because there are so many factors — COLA, title bump, relocation, stock options comparison, quality of life, etc. I do have great contacts in the new city who can help me figure out what to ask for, though, which is a blessing. But it’s a pretty specialized position and hard to evaluate as far as how the company likely values it — there are very few directly comparable jobs in the city or, really, the country.

        1. Josh S*

          Figure out your best estimate of the range based on everything you’ve heard. Then, increase that by 10%. The best that can happen is that they say “Yes” to the higher number. The worst that is likely to happen is that they start negotiating. :) Good luck!

  2. Susan*

    Here’s my question: I’m in job search mode but am leaving the country for nine days for vacation. Is there anything I need to do with companies or contacts that are interested in me? Should I drop them a line and let them know that I’ll be out of town and will only have limited access to email/phone? I’d hate to get a job offer, a request to interview, etc and then have them pass me up because I wasn’t able to respond in a timely fashion.

    1. Anonymous*

      Can you set up an auto reply on your e-mail and a clear vm message saying when you’ll return?

      I don’t think that contacting places you’ve already applied to but haven’t interviewed with makes sense. I guess places that you have already interviewed with might, but even then I’m not sure how useful it would be.

      But I do think a very clear voicemail and auto-reply would be very helpful (and almost all e-mails should be set up to do an auto-reply).

      Have fun abroad!

      1. anon in tejas*


        I’ve interviewed individuals who were MIA when contacting for second interview. The excuse of vacation or not being near phone was a bit annoying considering it was a telecommuting/email/phone heavy job.

    2. Josh S*

      Most companies get that many people travel over the holidays. So long as your voicemail and email away message say when you’ll be back, you should be covered.

      The only exception to this is if you have interviewed and the company has shared their timeline with you, and there’s a possibility that a decision will be reached while you’re out of town. Then it’s worth calling/emailing your contact there to let her know of the timing issue.

  3. Anonymous*

    I have a friend who helped me get my current job who is now currently advocating for me to come and work on her new team. It would pay a lot more. But I have a pretty high confidence that it would be a lot more emotionally draining. (My current job is at the point where I work and they leave me alone and if I don’t socialize a bunch that’s fine and I don’t have to work to make people like me or believe I can do my job.) The actual work would be potentially slightly less interesting and I really enjoy the job I have now (if only they paid me more!)

    I’ve had a really emotionally and financially difficult few years (which the friend knows) and am working to fix things but it is slow. I think I’ve pretty much made the decision that right now the emotional strain the job would cause me is greater than the financial relief. But she’s pushing me really hard to take this opportunity. Any good suggestions on how to push back gently but firmly?

    1. Mike C.*

      Given that it’s a friend, I would be directly honest with them. Give them the chance to address the emotional drain issue, but if your friend can give you a good response, the money would be quite helpful to your situation.

      If you decide that it’s not for you, the fact that you’ve been straight forward and honest will go a long way in maintaing that relationship. Good luck!

      1. Anonymous*

        I did have that initial conversation with her and told her that if there is a problem that would be it. It is just after having a week to think about it, that issue seems not worth it. I’m making enough money to survive and I don’t come home in tears at the end of the day. My emotional debt is greater (due mostly to Other Things) than my financial. Which would be helpful, but I’m just feeling it isn’t worth it right now. I do think that directness I already had will help. Now I just need to sit down and have the not now conversation with her. Thanks very much.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “Friend, I really appreciate you thinking of me for this opening. But I am at a point where I am just not up for a big change right now. Maybe in a little while, we could talk about this again. But right now, I am just not ready yet, so my answer is ‘no but thank you’.”

      Or, since she seems like a good friend to you- does she have a suggestion that would be easier right now and still increase your income somewhat.

  4. Mike C.*

    Ok, I have a professionalism question for the crowd.

    So many folks know I like to use fountain pens at work, and half the fun is the fact I get to use all sorts of inks. While I generally stick to blues, blacks and tones in between, there’s a whole rainbow of color out there. Now, I’m not signing documents or labeling things (I have a bleach proof accountant grade black for that), so does it really matter what color I use? Say I feel like a nice brown or maybe a deep red, just for something to take notes with in meetings or the like.

    Does anyone see this as unprofessional or otherwise a no no? I don’t think it would be a big deal myself, but hey open thread, so I’m curious what others think.

    Thanks, and happy holidays everyone!

    1. Amanda*

      If you’re using fountain pens, and it’s for notes that won’t go beyond you, I don’t see a problem. It’s not like you’re using iridescent gel pens to write memos to your boss.

    2. Anonymous*

      My first question would be what field do you work in? I think it would be in generally much more acceptable in creative industries.

      That said if no one else is going to see it? I don’t see why not enjoy it.

      1. Mike C.*

        I work in quality/metrics/project management for a large aerospace company. I don’t generally sign documents, but like I said above I have a signing pen if the need arises.

    3. Hlx Hlx*

      I also like pens, and I try to stay within what I call the “bruise palette” for professional documents.

      There are a few notation-type items that a.) only really I (or very few) would see and b.) get complicated and for that I say anything goes.

      Other than that – bruises it is.

      1. Josh S*

        I’ve seen some CRAZY colors happen in bruises…soccer injuries can bring out the red, green, purple, and even orange with the bruise…

    4. littlemoose*

      I love fun colored pens too – I bet the AAM crowd likes office supplies in general. I think for your personal notes, go for it. For stuff you have to give to coworkers or your boss, correspondence, and documents that go in permanent files, stick to the boring colors. So, color in moderation.

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      I shouldn’t answer this question because at my office, we are *required* to use funky-colored pens, depending on what department one is in. (This helps, when a document is passing through multiple hands for comments, to quickly see which comments came from which department.)

      So, yeah. I think you should use whatever color you want, but obviously anything I say on this subject ought to be taken with an enormous grain of salt!

      1. LMW*

        Ditto here. I’ve always worked in environments where people chose funky colors on purpose, so their notes would be distinguishable from other people’s (i.e., if I don’t understand or can’t read the note in orange, I go ask Anna of the Orange Pen.)
        I find the colors very useful.

    6. Anonymous*

      I have a weird affinity for Sharpies. I go through one a week, it feels like. It’s probably not the most professional thing to write with markers, but it makes note taking more fun for me, and no one else sees my scribbles so why not?

      1. Elizabeth M*

        In general, I think you should take personal notes in whatever you want! One caveat, though: Too much time around Sharpie fumes gives me a headache, so it might be considerate to find a less-aromatic alternative for taking notes in a meeting when people are sitting right next to you in case others have the same problem I do.

    7. moss*

      I say, GO FOR IT!! As you already know, you wouldn’t be able to use “fun” inks for controlled documentation but for notes you are taking for yourself in a meeting, absolutely! If anyone asks, just tell them you are trying out a new organization system. Or that you just like different colored ink.

    8. -X-*

      If other people need to read it, the ink must be dark so it is easily – black, dark blue, dark green, dark brown or perhaps a very dark gray. A deep red might not be dark enough.

      Also, red is associated with corrections so I’d avoid that color.

    9. Wilton Businessman*

      If it’s your own personal notes or documents, anything goes. If it’s not for your eyes only; blue or black.

    10. Rob Bird*

      I tend to stick with colors that anybody can see (color blindness). You never know who will end up seeing it, or trying to see it. I say stick with black.

    11. Lore*

      We scan a lot of documents after they’ve been edited by hand at my job, and there is definitely a difference in legibility based on color of ink–not sure if this would be relevant in your case, but a lot of greens, blues, even light reds or pinks don’t scan well, even if they seem perfectly legible and dark on the page. A brown, a deep green, a burgundy red, a midnight blue are all probably good, maybe even a purple, but I wouldn’t go much lighter than that. (I used to love teal ink in my fountain pen, but that would not work for my current job!)

      1. Chinook*

        If I remember right from my yearbook editor days (pre computer) there are shades of light blue that don’t copy at all. If in doubt, try copying something written in your ink and see what happens.

        Also, not all copiers are the same. Last week I copied a B&We document with “draft” in watermark and the watermark didn’t show on one copier but did on another.

        1. Anonymous*

          Could that also be a function of the “lightness” setting? I wonder if the watermark would show with the first copier if you cranked it to maximum “darkness”.

    12. Elizabeth M*

      I like to use a variety of colors on pages that I take notes on repeatedly, so I can quickly see the passage of time. For example, I take notes on my students as they work on a project, and use the same page over several weeks. By using different colors, I can quickly see that Frances finished her rough draft the last week of February and then her model the first week of March, while Lee didn’t get to the model until the second week of March.

      1. Elizabeth M*

        Oh, but also:

        1. These are only for my own personal use
        2. I never have to photocopy them, so reproduction isn’t a concern
        3. I teach elementary school, so normally the people around me are writing in crayons… the rules of what’s professional may be somewhat different in other environments!

    13. Cassie*

      I use pens of different colors all the time, although if I’m signing something – it’ll be in black or dark blue (I might have signed something in dark purple once). I’ve had a professor sign a document in this deep violet gel pen once, which I was a little surprised by (profs usually stick to blue and black) but I guess that’s the pen he was using.

      If my boss asks me to look up and write down a phone number for him, I’m apt to use whichever pen is in my hand or closest to me – sometimes it’s turquoise. He doesn’t complain – after all, it’s not an official document or anything, just a post-it note.

      I say go for it! Unless your office prohibits using other colors, why not inject some personality into your daily work?

  5. Hlx Hlx*

    Something I’ve been wondering about:

    I recently applied for a job online that several different friends and acquaintances separately sent to me.

    It combined both technical experience that I had with an special interest in something that I also have, but not everyone would have. I’m currently employed but the combination of standard work experience + special interest was intriguing enough for me to go for it.

    However, I’m worried I disqualified myself…the application only allowed you to upload one file. I really needed my cover letter since it talked about the special interest and how I could uniquely combine that with specialized skills…so I ended up putting the cover letter in the same file as my CV. Basically, you’d see the cover letter first, then the next page would be the start of my CV (which is a scientific CV with no good place for personal interest-type stuff). Is that ok, do you think?

    1. Anonymous*

      Since I’m assuming they’re using one of those obnoxious application software/websites, I’m thinking you’re just fine. Unless they said specifically “Only provide us with a CV” then I would imagine that it’s just part of the application form to have one place to upload and they in fact would like to have a cover letter. It’s rare to find a place that only wants a resume for a professional-type job, and if that’s the case they normally specify as such.

      1. Laura*

        This is sort of off-topic, but I worked quite a bit on an implementation of a recruitment site this year. And what I learned is that those sites are as “obnoxious” as the people designing the site want it to be. If there are 12 mandatory steps to the application process, it’s because those 12 steps were built into the process. If there are only 3, it’s because that company decided to go with a simpler approach.

        1. Ornery PR*

          Exactly. I’m in the same boat as you, Laura, where I am implementing this for my company (a PEO), and we hire/recruit for most of our clients. Each client can customize the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to fit their own separate needs, making it as long and arduous, or as simple and effecient as the company desires. Each “required” field is chosen by the company. And like Laura mentioned, the amount of steps is conciously chosen by a person. While I realize that not all ATS software is created equal, it can’t be entirely blamed for hokey online hiring processes.

          1. Josh S*

            Yes and no.

            Yes, someone picks each field and makes it ‘required’ or optional (or leaves it off entirely). But they are generally being prompted to do so from the perspective of a hiring manager or software vendor who wants to emphasize how much of the relevant information can be gleaned, rather than from the perspective of how will this make it easier for highly-qualified applicants to apply and be recognized.

            You can require everything from my high school education to the number of teeth in my mouth if you like, and if you think that will help you better find a good applicant. But at some point there’s a break-even between “Screening for applicants who have the skills we value”, “Applicants who are too qualified to bother jumping through all the hoops we’ve set up.”

            And I think too many people setting up those systems opt for the former…

            1. Ornery PR*

              Fair enough. I’m just saying there are real people behind these systems, and the ones who choose a convoluted setup for applicants are likely the ones with backward hiring practices even if you strip away the ATS. There are plenty of ways those who hire can be inconsiderate of a candidate. A lousy ATS setup can be one of them, sure. But it’s really just a tool. And one that can be very effective if you use it right.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      It seems like the only thing you could do. I don’t see why any intelligent HR person or hiring manager why mind. Sometimes you just have to do what makes sense.

  6. ChristineH*

    I just signed up for a second year serving as a volunteer on a local United Way panel that reviews grant proposals from nonprofits. These panels run every year from roughly January through April. How would I present that on a resume since it’s not year-round? Right now, I just have the 3-4 months I served last year:

    Community Investment Panelist – 1/12-5/12

    I’m guessing the new way should be?:

    Community Investment Panelist – 2012-Present (Jan-April)

    1. Anonymous*

      Can you make a notation saying that it’s seasonal/temporary/reoccuring/somethingelsethatismorefitting work?

    2. LMW*

      I think that is fairly clear…the only thing you might add is the word seasonal, but I don’t even think that’s necessary.

      1. ChristineH*

        I thought about putting “seasonal”, but I thought that word only applied to holiday or summer jobs.

    3. Wilton Businessman*

      I think “Community Investment Panelist – 2012-Present (Jan-April)” is fine. “Seasonal” infers holiday time in my mind.

    4. ChristineH*

      A related question: I also sat on a proposal review panel for my county’s human services advisory council, which is essentially the same process as the United Way panel. The difference is, my involvement on the panel is not standalone; I was appointed to the full council in September, and I expect that my involvement may expand beyond the proposal reviews. I don’t know specifically what yet, however, because the orientation for new council members isn’t until sometime in February.

      I’m beginning to wonder if I should just list these in a separate section on my resume, such as “Committees”, rather than making them look like full jobs. I’m just trying to fill my embarrassingly large employment gaps :(

      1. ChristineH*

        Whoops – forgot my question! How could I present my involvement on the human services council since I don’t know the full extent of exactly how I’ll be involved (beyond the proposal reviews). But then again, if I end up just listing my committees, it might be a moot point.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      ChristineH, I wouldn’t even worry about getting so specific with the dates — just list the years, and don’t worry about anything else. For something like this, they’ll be more interested in the fact that you’ve done it than in the exact months.

      1. Ellie H.*

        I would agree, I think that most people would reasonably expect that sitting on a review panel is something that happens periodically and not continuously throughout the year.

  7. JC*

    I’m curious if any readers have advice for hopeful freelancers (in the editing and writing fields). I’m pretty early in my career and am sure I don’t have high enough qualifications in in-demand skills to properly compete, but I’d like to one day take on freelance work and want to know how to best position myself/what I should work on. I’ve looked at books on freelancing, but most of them seem kind of out of date/hard-sell-y (fax every company in your town a flyer advertising yourself!) or assume that you’re transitioning from a job as a writer where you already have established contacts, and most online portfolios are geared towards graphic work, not text. Any advice?

    1. Anonymous*

      Oh oh! This one is helpful for me too! I’m looking to do a little PR/social media marketing on the side and trying to figure out how to break into it.

    2. Lisa*

      Ooh, this one’s for me! I made my downpayment on my home by freelancing as a writer. If you have the skills, it’s not very hard to get gigs–but don’t assume you’ll be doing fun, creative work. Think product descriptions, editing executives’ blog posts, blogging for corporations, and so on and so forth. I started by reaching out to people I know in leadership positions (entrepreneurs, especially) with a note explaining that I was eager to take on freelance writing work, and attaching some published samples. (Don’t have any? Make it happen — there are large websites that will publish a good piece of work without paying you in exchange for exposure to their audience. Not a good deal for an established writer, but if you don’t have clips, that’s the easiest place to get them.)

      Once I got a few one-off gigs and positive feedback from the people I was writing for, I’d follow up a few weeks after completing a project and thank them for the work, and mention that I have availability and would be grateful for a referral if they hear of friends or colleagues looking for a freelance writer. (Only do this if the client really is 100% satisfied!) I got several small projects this way, including one where the client actually insisted that I bill MORE than my usual rate.

      Sites like Elance are useful if you put the time in to learn how to work the system. The catch is that you need a niche. Just being a writer/researcher who can find sources and condense them into a few paragraphs on any topic is a skill set that’s no longer really valuable, even in the Web content world. My niche as a freelancer turns out to be executive communications. I can put on a C-level executive like a second skin and write in their vocabulary. I articulate their thoughts better than they can (this is client feedback). Yours might be totally different, but find out what it is and look for work in that area.

      If I were looking for more freelance work now, one thing I’d try would be to reach out to local restaurants and offer to edit/rewrite their menus for a modest fee. Many are full of typos and clunky phrasing. It’d be a quick one-day project per restaurant, and valuable to them in that they wouldn’t annoy grammarian diners who love to point out menu mistakes. Might or might not work, I’m not freelancing now so I’ve never tried it, but it seems like it’d be worth making a few pitches.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Hmm, interesting. I’m going to be starting a writing program shortly (heavily tech-oriented type stuff). Writing is the only thing I can do fairly well. I don’t even know if this program is the right thing; if I had my way, I’d work part-time, have a family and write novels (I’ve written four and am getting ready to edit one I just finished). I’ll keep your comment in my advice folder, even though it wasn’t meant for me. :)

      2. Jen M.*

        What advice do you have for someone who is an experienced freelancer but has been out of the field for a while?

        I have a pretty good clip file, but the clips are old. I don’t get a lot of time to write these days, because I have a full time job and a busy life, but I want to get back into it, at least part time.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      I’d start with thinking about what you do now and how you can turn that into the written word somehow. You’ll make much more money as a freelancer if you can think outside of the box of articles than if you don’t — paying markets for magazine and newspaper features are shrinking, not to mention that you have to send out many, many query letters for every actual article you get to write.

      But, as others have already responded, there are plenty of other ways to write for pay, particularly in the corporate arena. There’s website copy, user’s manuals, newsletters, and so on and so forth. You’ll have less competition for this kind of work if you know how to find it, and the pay rate can be higher.

      My advice is to figure out what skills and knowledge you have that most writers don’t, and look for gigs in those areas. The more differentiated you are, the higher the rate of pay you can command and the less work you’ll have to do just to land a gig. (This is how I ended up at an ad agency — one that handles a highly technical type of advertising — I started out trying to write for magazines and quickly discovered that I could not compete with freelance journalists who had years of experience. But with my science degree, I *could* be on top competing with other technical copywriters, because a strong knowledge of science and strong writing skills are harder to find in the same person.)

    4. EM*

      If you’re interested in editing, get to know Word intimately. As in be able to fix formatting errors. Be able to generate tables of contents. Know how to fix headers and footers, and sections. We desperately need someone who can not only edit our reports for grammar and clarity, but also fix issues with formatting. Now only if we could convince our boss we need this. It’s really stupid to charge the client a scientist’s rate to fight a pernicious pagination issue for an hour when a technical editor can fix it in less than 15 minutes for much less. But I digress.

      1. Rana*

        +1 Also be comfortable working with PDFs – especially using Adobe Acrobat – and an ability to format ebooks should also prove useful. (That latter is a skill set I’m hoping to acquire in the coming year.)

    5. LMW*

      This is my field and I’ve both been a freelancer and hired them. Here’s my take:
      1. The number one thing you can do is be a good writer. I’ve hired people with only one or two samples to show me, but they were very well done. I’d also be much more inclined to hire you based on a consistent and well written personal blog than several hundred articles written for a content mill (and I’d advise you to avoid those anyway – if you can write, you are already worth more than they are paying). You’d also be amazed at how many writers I’ve worked with who don’t know how to write for an audience, or who have pitched me with terrible grammar. So making sure you know your business is number one.
      2. Most of the writing I’ve hired for in the past few years is either content marketing (blogs and articles meant for the web) or high-level professional research or marketing writing (white papers, brochures, etc.). While some people can definitely do all these different types of writing well, I probably wouldn’t consider a blogger for a white paper gig without samples. So be sure to develop samples for the type of work you want to do.
      3. Get really good at being edited. Freelancers have to be able to turn something in, have the client hate it, and then turn it around into something they love. Learn to listen and ask the right questions.
      4. Be organized, reliable, and professional. I can’t tell you how many freelancers I’ve hired who turned in assignments late, didn’t respond to emails for weeks, went over time/budget, etc.

      Honestly, most of the freelance gigs I’ve gotten have been through word of mouth. But almost all the freelancers I’ve hired have been strangers who responded to an ad with a really good, specific cover letter.

      Hope this helps!

    6. Rob Bird*

      I would check out Guy Kawasaki’s group on Google+. It’s called APE: Authors, Publishers, and Entrepreneurs. It’s not exaxtly what you are looking for, but it would put you in touch with people in that career field.

      Good luck!

    7. KarenT*

      Most cities have a freelance editing or writing professional association. I recommend becoming involved (not just joining but becoming actively involved). It’s a great way to meet people and people are more willing to take a chance on someone they know.
      It will also help to build a portfolio– a really awesome one that showcases real client work with good writing and flawless editing.

    8. Rana*

      Get on the list-serv for the EFA – lots of good information there, plus job listings – for a start. It’s a friendly crowd, too.

      The other thing that seems to be the case for this sort of work is that networking, referrals, and hunting out jobs yourself is generally more productive than advertising and mass-marketing. It’s the sort of work that’s generally built one client at a time, and (at least in my case) it’s often the situation that they don’t have an on-going string of projects for you, but rather a one-off or occasional project, so it’s important to have multiple clients who are willing to refer you to future ones.

      Beyond that, I’d suggest exploring the sorts of work that’s out there, and see what makes a good fit for your own particular interests and skill sets. For example, my primary focus is in the area of what I call scholarly support services – indexing academic books, helping people with the formatting and proofing of journal articles, consulting with clients about how to best structure their arguments, cleaning up footnotes, etc. Other people specialize in fiction, or memoir, or popular nonfiction, or technical manuals, or medical writing, etc. So if someone contacts me about editing their late grandmother’s diary for self-publishing, I direct them to my colleagues that have experience in that, and hope they return the favor.

      But the first step is to get in touch with people who are already doing this sort of work. The EFA, as I mentioned, is generally welcoming to newbies, and you can learn a lot just by lurking, too.

  8. KNancy*

    Is it acceptable to put company financial data in a resume? For example, “project A reduced maintenance expenses by 84K per year.” I work in IT for a large hospital system.

    1. Coelura*

      It depends on your company, but if its a large hospital system it should be fine. You might also consider making it a percentage (reduced maintenance expenses by 5%).

    2. anon in tejas*

      I would! It shows what you are comfortable working with. Just look at the difference.

      (A) project A reduced maintenance expenses by 84K per year.
      (B) project A reduced considerable maintenance expenses.

  9. Anonymouse*

    I’m planning to apply to a job where I may not be qualified “on paper” – but I have some experience that should overlap with the job requirements.

    It is for an environmental program assistant – the person running day to day operations for the team, as well as serving as the face of the organization for customer support.

    They ask for highschool education (I have a college degree in environmental studies), 6 months environmental experience (I have 2 years worth of environmental internships), 2 years customer service/retail experience (I have worked in retail part-time since high school… at least 6 years), and 1 year administrative experience (this is where I don’t have direct experience… but I volunteered at a daycare answering phones and doing other clerical support)

    Is it worth applying to even if I’m shy of experience on one of the qualifications?

    1. Anonymous*

      The worst thing that will happen is that you won’t get a call back, so why not apply? Tailor your cover letter to the position description and go for it!

    2. Jamie*

      Absolutely – I was way shyer on requirements than this when I landed my first job in IT.

      Don’t even hesitate.

    3. Anonymouse*

      Thanks! I know this seems like an obvious yes, but I have been told in the past that a lack of administrative experience was a deal breaker, even though I was confident I could learn those tasks and had transferable skills.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Definitely. A lot of the customer service stuff is transferable, and if you can answer the phone and make copies, the rest is easy. You did clerical support at the daycare, so that should count for something.

      I did a job like this–I was the receptionist and also did the monthly spill response schedule and the personnel training updates, along with typing and assembling environmental reports. It wasn’t hard, and I had no more experience than you do. Your degree shows your interest in the field, too. Go for it!!

    5. Jen M.*

      It sounds to me like you are MORE than qualified! The administrative skills you picked up during your other positions more than cover the admin requirement they have listed.

      Go for it!

  10. Coelura*

    Definitely. Although you are shy on one of the requirements, you have far more than required on others.

  11. Jamie*

    Can you hear that pin drop? That’s because my office is soooo awesomely quiet. Only a handful of us here today and we’ve been so productive.

    So over shut down I bring in one of my kids to answer the phone and help with spreadsheets, office stuff, etc. My 17 year old just asked me, in all seriousness, how I manage to stay awake at work.

    “all those spreadsheets…”

    So I pulled up some particularly jazzy crystal reports I’ve written – trying to impress him – show him the magic behind the curtain (kind of like the underground lab in KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park.” Showed him the coded formulas and how they pull data for the end result. How it takes something that might take half a day to compile and pulls the data in seconds.

    He looked at me like I’m the one with a skewed sense of what’s exciting.

    Oh and he also has zero interest in the calculation of theoretical weights based on extents.

    Boy, you’d think he was just here to earn extra money or something and not for the adventure.

    1. Scott Woode*

      Jamie, it is dead in my office too. Even though the stock markets are technically open, we’re operating on the barest of skeleton crews here. The Capital Investment side is only half present, with pretty much the entire Wealth Management side working from home. It’s just a sea of empty desks no matter where you look. Sadly, it’s going to be like this for the next two weeks or so until the middle of January. To pass the time today I’m switching between a ginormous mailing, updating a spreadsheet for the NY office, and closing out the remaining event files. I think I’ve answered maybe 5 calls today.

      If it wasn’t the holiday season, the eery quality of the office would be driving me batty. Thank God the busy season picks up again soon.

    2. Scott M*

      +1 for the reference to a movie I didn’t think anyone other than myself had seen!

      Yeah, it takes a special kind of person to be excited by that stuff. I like to say that my job is turning data into information, but that usually goes over peoples heads.

    3. the gold digger*

      Jamie, when I got to my new job, I kept asking for the data. I looked at the customer management system and told my co-workers we should be able to get information on sales by country by month by product type because all that information was there. They swore up and down that they had asked IT for the information and had been told it wasn’t available.

      I asked the head of IT just to give me access to the database and told him I would write my own crystal reports. He asked what reports I wanted. I told him, and ten minutes later, they appeared in my inbox.

      When I told my co-workers, their jaws dropped. They are still convinced I am magic.

      Not magic. I just have a little experience with databases and know that if the data is in there, it can be extracted.

      1. the gold digger*

        Wait! I thought of an even better example! I was doing a temp job at 3M years ago. They handed me a 2″-thick stack of mainframe printouts with delivery statistics. They wanted me to analyze it to discover the main reason for late shipments.

        I said sure, just load the data into a spreadsheet and I’ll figure it out.

        The manager said, “You can do that sort of thing with a spreadsheet?”

        They had intended for me to do all of this by hand.

        1. the gold digger*

          PS My office is on shutdown, as well, but I hate wasting a vacation day on a day when I can actually get some work done.

          I don’t think there is anyone here but me and my Nutella.

        2. Liz T*

          People are so weird about spreadsheets. In 2004 I took over my college’s 30-year-old student theater company, which did 20+ shows per year and had an $18,000 budget. They were still balancing the budget BY HAND. Every single item purchased all year went in a giant ledger. We’re supposed to be the tech-savvy generation! Why was I the first person to even THINK of putting it in excel. I copied the format of the Theater Department’s budget spreadsheets and everyone thought I was a wizard.

      2. Josh S*

        SELECT * From [Table] Where Month=’December’ AND …

        Really? There’s a database and nobody with a week’s worth of SQL experience?

        1. Anonymous*

          As the example illustrates, IT was perfectly competent at producing the reports – once they were being asked the right questions. There can be a real disconnect…

          1. Scott M*

            Good IT people can bridge the gap between non-techie people and IT (I consider myself to be a ‘good’ IT employee). It does help to ask the correct questions, but a IT analyst/developer is good at drawing more information out of the user (although it’s sometimes more like pulling teeth)

            If someone asks me “Do you we have a report that shows such-and-such” and there isn’t such a report, I will say no. But then I’ll say I could probably give them a simple listing of this information if they want to explain what they need. Some IT people don’t go this far, either because they are busy, or it just doesn’t occur to them.

  12. Heather*

    Two questions:
    I left a job in July for grad school, but I still work there as a temp as needed (so no longer my old title). How do I indicate this on my resume (should I?)
    MUCH thanks to AAM, I got out of a nightmare job after six months about a year ago. I’ve removed it from my resume, but should I also remove it from my linked in (it led to me attending some noteable trainings)
    Thanks :)

    1. some1*

      My suggestion:

      Chocolate Teapot Maker, ABC Corp., June 2010-July 2012

      Part-time Consulting as a Chocolate Teapot Maker, ABC Corp, July 2012-Present

  13. Ali*

    So, I got a promotion at work recently that I’ll be starting after the new year. I’ll be in a similar job but have more responsibilities and I got a nice raise to boot. I am pretty happy about that, as I met one of my big goals at work, and it seems like I finally have a job where I’m valued and fit in with the culture. The promotion has helped me see that I am ready to leave behind my goal of working for a sports team for good.

    However, even though I got the promotion, I feel like a little bit of a failure that my goal of working for a team didn’t materialize. Is this normal? I realize it’s the right decision for me to let go of my goals for many reasons (low pay, too much competition for few jobs, etc.), but when I see that someone who used to write on the same site as me got hired by Sports Illustrated, or that someone used her internship to get a full-time job right after graduation, it makes me feel like I didn’t try hard enough. I networked, went to job fairs, had people recommend me for jobs and still nothing worked out. Is it OK to feel a little bad about this?

    I start my new position hopefully by the end of next month, so I want to get this all out of my system by then.

    1. Heather*

      Sure, it’s ok. You’re only human, and hiring processes aren’t some magical “fair land.” Plus, you’re mourning what you wanted to do.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right on, Heather. Ali, yep, this is what mourning looks like. It’s not just for old dogs and grandmothers. Mourning can also happen for lost goals, jobs, houses- heck- even a car. Confusingly, we can mourn and still be happy about something else at the same time. Yeah, it’s pretty normal.

    2. LMW*

      I felt the same way for a long time after I left publishing and went into the corporate world. It was only when I started my most recent job that I stopped feeling like I’d somehow failed or sold out or something.

      Now I realize that I have so many more opportunities to use my skills and make an impact. And mentally I get a little more space between my job and my identity, which is healthier. And I may actually eventually get to do grown up things like pay off my student loans and buy a house, because I’m not in an industry where there are legions of people willing to work for peanuts out of love. Instead of feeling like I was lagging behind my peers because I hadn’t gotten the right job, or I had the right job, but the wrong paycheck, I actually feel kind of successful now.

      Give yourself time. You will have other dreams.

      1. KarenT*

        How did you transition out of publishing? Specifically, what role did you go from and to? I’m looking to get out of editing and into something that can pay the bills.

        1. LMW*

          I took a year-long contract-to-hire job for a Fortune 500 company. I started out working as a editorial manager for a website, edited some of their white papers and sales presentations, and eventually wound up working in internal communications. I really enjoyed all of it, but it never actually transitioned to a regular full-time role with benefits, so I just left to start a new position as a content manager with a Fortune 100 company.
          So, taking the contract role was a risk, and I’m lucky that I wasn’t let go when my projects ended. They took a chance on me, since I had no corporate experience, and they must have liked my work because I was kept on even when they let other contractors go (it probably helped that writing is a rare, rare skill in the corporate world). But three years without benefits was rough. Now, three years later, I really like my job: I’m still essentially doing editorial work, and I’m making almost 3x what I was making at the end of my stint in publishing (after 7 years in publishing). So, it was a risk that paid off.

        2. LMW*

          And to more specifically answer your question: I was a book editor and then a magazine editor (jewelry making titles, so very niche). I went to a dual role in marketing, where I was an editorial manager (content manager) and “project professional” helping research, write and edit white papers.
          Content management, internal communications, and some marketing roles (managing newsletters or managing large-scale projects like brochures, white papers, etc.) and research reporting roles are a really good fit for people with strong editorial skills. Good luck!

    3. Anonymous*

      Something someone said to me recently that when people are bragging or happy about (hey got a job at X! now working for Y! Scored a gig with SI!) they aren’t telling you any of the downsides of their life. (Which is good for them because helps our brains etc.) But this can sometimes leave people with a bit of a lopsided perspective. Don’t try to be better than the other person. Try to be better than you were yesterday. Not all goals are the right goals and letting go of them can lead to great new opportunities.

    4. Janet*

      Totally normal. I went into TV journalism years and years ago and hated it and left to go into PR. I remember how I happy I was to score my first PR job but at the same time I felt sad about the fact that TV didn’t work out because it was what I wanted to do for so long and I felt like everyone thought I was a failure when I’d go back home and they’d say “Are you still working as a TV producer?” It faded – still pops up every now and then but for the most part I’m not as sad anymore. It’s mourning like they say.

  14. JustTheIntern*

    So, I recently changed teams at my internship owing to my supervisor quitting. This new team is a worse fit, culturally (I asked why we were six months behind in paperwork, my supervisor basically responded “stuff happened,” and took no responsibilty).
    Anyway, at a weekly meeting, I made a face which I thought meant “huh?” (it was in reaction to the way someone described something non-work related). Anyway, my supervisor asked me later, when I was in her office, if I “had a problem” with her boss. Apparently my face made her boss think I did not like her. I replied with cheerful enthusiasm, and have been excessively chipper to her since then. Should I say something to her boss when I return from Xmas break?

    1. Jamie*

      Boy do I know how you feel – I have an expressive face too, and have been surprised by how people interpreted my totally neutral or even happy expressions…as not so neutral.

      It was once – just go out of your way to be extra smiley when you see her from now on…that way she’ll chalk it up to a misinterpretation and forget about it. It would be weird to bring it up.

    2. anon in tejas*

      I found that as an intern, it was better to really blend in at meetings at first until I got a good idea of what the temperature was. I also really held of on asking “tough” questions for a while. I think that being young (assumption that you’re young, because you’re an intern), it can come off as being naive. Additionally, the supervisor doesn’t need to take responsibility to someone underneath him/especially an intern.

      Just give some extra thought to what you’re saying and how you’re coming across.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, that jumped out at me too. I’d be surprised if an intern was in a position to be able to determine that a supervisor should have been taking responsibility in response to that question.

      2. JustTheIntern*

        Thanks for the feedback. It was phrased in a more professional way, but I felt that in general it was justified in the “can you help me to understand….” vein in which I worded it as a) stuff that should have been done six months ago per state regs were not (and I am now doing because no one else did them, b)It’s part of my education in my field, and I’m doing them because I know how to (I’ve worked in the field for years).

        But I do appreciate this feedback.

    3. Ellie H.*

      My neutral expression is one that makes strangers say “What’s wrong?” and “Are you okay” – there is nothing, nothing, NOTHING I hate more. So, I’m sympathetic. Really the only thing to do is to be excessively chipper in compensation until they forget about it. It sucks! Just be cheerful and don’t say anything.

      1. ChristineH*

        My husband has had that problem too…his neutral expression looks almost sad; even I misinterpreted it when we were first dating.

  15. Jay*

    I’m graduating with an economics degree in May and I don’t have a network to help with a job search. Outside of what my school has to offer, what kinds of resources are recomended for finding an entry level position? I’ve looked at job board sites but don’t really trust them. It seems like it is very easy for my very average resume to be ignored.

      1. -X-*

        Maybe professional associations and conferences. Particularly if you in the location you want to stay in and there are professional associations (or even meet-ups) in your field, consider going to as many events as you can to meet people and network.

  16. Sandrine*

    Hello everyone! I hope you had a Merry Christmas/Holiday/WhatYouWant ;) .

    I’ve got a silly thing I need opinions on. I really need to think about an issue long and hard, and I keep going back and forth in my head about it, but I hate it.

    So, as many people may remember, I work in customer service and, while excellent at my job in the aspects that matter most, I absolutely hate this job and it’s been officially recognized (by my own boss, no less) that I’m not made for that kind of work. I’d be better off in an office or as a direct-contact-with-customers person.

    In my current job, you can have monthly bonuses. Up to 600/700 USD (no joke) . I haven’t had much of this so far (started in October 2011) because one of my stats wasn’t good enough and disqualified me.

    Now that a brand new bonus system has been put into place starting December, I can hope to get around 500 USD more per month, if not more if the problematic stat improves.

    This all sounds neat, but the job is really, really getting on my nerves. Worst thing is, I just got back from three weeks on vacation on Reunion Island, I’m only going back on Friday (but may not be able to as my Christmas spirit stole my voice XD) … so I really shouldn’t complain right now.

    I know for a fact that I won’t last another six months at this job. Thing is, if I do end up getting the bonus I’d like to “milk” it as long as possible to save up some money for later.

    I just don’t know how long I can do it without going crazy. I’m not even sure I can do it without going crazy. If I last until April, I can even hope to have another annual bonus that would be nice to add to a cushion of sorts.

    I can’t help but feel uneasy about this whole thing. On one side, there’s money. And on the other side, my sanity and health.

    Eeeeeeeeek! What would you have to say about this ? I’ll reply with as much detail as needed if anyone wants to comment ;) .

    Thank you AAM!
    Thank you community :)

    1. Anonymous*

      Sounds like you definitely needed to vent about this job. I’d try hard to focus on the aspects you are most comfortable with. At the end of the day say, I did great at Y today. And then take off your badge or your work clothes immediately when you get home and do something Very Not Work. The good thing about most customer service jobs is they don’t have to leave the building with you. So do what you need to leave them there. Creating a small ritual (for me my badge gets zipped into my purse along with my work face and I feel like I can be me again) can make a big difference to try to exclude a difficult job from who you are.

      But I’d be extremely careful about quitting without something lined up, even if you have a cash cushion. So part of your Not Work Stuff can be looking for Awesome Work.

      1. Jamie*

        Creating a small ritual (for me my badge gets zipped into my purse along with my work face and I feel like I can be me again) can make a big difference to try to exclude a difficult job from who you are.

        I love this.

        and this

        So part of your Not Work Stuff can be looking for Awesome Work.

      2. Sandrine*

        Thank you!

        As for “Very Not Work” stuff… I’m working on getting more of that stuff. Maybe a dancing class, maybe more cooking (I have a weird obsession with cupcakes that I need to do something with) . But there’s hope on that front.

        As far as quitting without a job, well, I guess that’s why I posted, at least in part. Last time I did that, I stayed for almost three years without a job (but I was working on my depression at the time, and with everything I’ve learnt since then, I kinda feel like an idiot for staying so low for so long) . So I don’t want to repeat that mistake, that’s for sure :) .

        I’m gearing up for active search starting Jan 1st. The good part is we get two “free” (aka “no questions asked”) days off per calendar year, that we can use as long as not too many people have asked it off. I think they’ll be useful for interviews :P .

        1. Anonymous*

          Really create a solid but achievable plan for yourself then.
          I’ll spend 2 hours on Thursday night researching and finding jobs, I’ll find 1-3 that I like. On Saturday at 2 pm I’ll sit down and do the research and tailor my resume and cover letter for them. I’ll be done by 5 and then cook a wonderful meal for myself and a friend/spouse/child/relative/neighbor.
          Having something that is solid and achievable is really important and will help you feel like you are working your way out of this. I don’t think that throwing up your hands and quitting is going to help you at any point. But striving toward something doable in small bite sized bits will get you what you really want.

          Good luck!

          1. Sandrine*

            Thank you very much!

            Especially for the bite sized bits. Usually I do things in a “huge roast for ten people” bits and may give up too easily on certain things… you’re right that striving towards bite sized is much better :) !

      1. Sandrine*

        I hate my job. A new system means I could get bonus money each month. Except I am already thisclose to quitting, so I’m not sure how long I can hold on. Wanting opinions on this, and comments or thoughts about people who were in similar situations at their jobs at any point in their life.

    2. Anonymous*

      Hi, Sandrine. I can’t answer your question about how long you can keep doing the crazy-making job without going crazy, but I would advise that you don’t stay all the way until your breaking point. At my last job, I was really struggling with the company’s and my department’s ever-changing priorities. I could write a book here, but to be succinct, I kept trying to make it work while I became more and more miserable and less and less able to see my way out. I called out sick one day when I just couldn’t take it any more and basically never went back. Officially I was fired for job abandonment.

      This was a number of years ago when the job market wasn’t so bad and I was able to use my network to get a new position fairly quickly and without that termination being a factor. I still feel sick thinking about the whole situation though – including my lack of professionalism – and that’s not a position I’d want to be in today. I still worry sometimes about it being a black mark against me, but I have been in the “new” job for more than 5 years with a couple of promotions, so I hope that’s enough stability to override any negative results of the last job.

      1. Sandrine*

        Thank you.

        Two people on my team actually left with the intention of doing the “job abandonment” thing. I couldn’t do that because I just feel icky even thinking about it, and while I’m not in the US I have enough common sense (now!) and read enough AAM to know how silly it would be.

        Not that I’m glad to know others have been miserable too, but it’s nice to see that you can get “out of the hole”, so to speak.

      1. Sandrine*

        Ah, I understand that moss, but here the amount is significant enough that for some reason my crazy brain is considering it for a maximum of 6 months, ha!

        I did tell my coworkers that I’d get back into active search after Jan 1st though. I just got back from vacation so maybe it’ll be quiet enough for a few days :P .

        1. majigail*

          Start looking ASAP and milk the pay as long as you can. Hopefully, you’ll find something even better paying and less life sucking soon!

          1. Anonymous_J*

            This is pretty much what I was going to say.

            I feel your pain, Sandrine! Good luck getting out of there!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          If you do this now, promise yourself you will never do it again. I have done this a couple times before I realized that it did not actually help me. Reality- it hurt me.
          Make sure you have weekly goals and take steps weekly to locate that new job. If you find a job in two months- take it- get out of there.
          See it is about self-respect. Don’t allow the message “It is okay to wallow in mud for the money” to linger in your head too long. Sometimes we do stuff to get ourselves out of a bind- but we can not hang out in “bad plan land.” Get yourself to a place where your professionalism shines.

  17. Erin*

    I’m moving to Washington D.C. for a new job at a small company. Hoping to transition into a nonprofit career in a few years. Any tips for surviving and thriving in that lovely cherry-blossom town as someone with a small budget and no professional network there?

    1. Dan*

      Where are you moving from?

      You’ll probably benefit from having a roommate or some other shared living arrangement. Helps with the bills and social stuff all at the same time.

      DC has plenty of happy hours. Hit them up. Groupon is somewhat useful — more so if you have someone you know you can go out and do stuff with.

      I remember my poor and broke years in DC, and unfortunately, I can’t give you a lot of good advice on actually thriving. In those days, for me, it was just about survival.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Hi Erin,

      DC is the best city! Since your budget is small and you don’t know many people, you might want to find shared housing (lots of young people share houses or large apartments) and then you’ll already know some people and save some money.

      If your coworkers are under the age of 28, there will almost certainly be happy hours and other social events. I recommend getting involved in professional organizations in your field (again, there are a lot) and going to those events. Your college probably has a local alumni association. There’s also kickball leagues, softball, pretty much everything you can think of. This is a VERY social town.

      As far as where to live, depending on your age I recommend U-Street area, Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan (more for the younger crowd on that though), Kalorama, Capitol Hill in the district. Alexandria around Old Town is nice in Virginia. Other parts of Alexandria can be nice but there’s a lot of variation. Then you’ve got the orange line corridor including Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Ballston and Virginia Square that are all young and nice areas of Virginia, with lots of restaurants and entertainment. Plus they’re all on the Metro and close to the city.

      This is such a great area – you won’t regret moving here!

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Oh, I agree, but generally it starts to drop off in the late 20s (at least in my experience). Early-to-mid 20s are happy hours several times a week and then it slows down. Depends on your office though. We’re all old farts.

      1. Anonymous_J*

        There is also Meetup. You can find a Meetup for virtually anything: Professional, hobbies, lifestyle, religion. A good Meetup group can be a good way to get to know an area quickly.

        …And I agree: DC is a WONDERFUL city! (I live in Maryland, not far from DC and go into the city whenever I can.)

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Oh, if you’re really broke, join a Congressional Softball League team. Congressional staffers have the inside track on all kinds of fundraisers and other events. I lived off brie and gin and tonics when I was an intern here.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Yes! It’s not officially affiliated with Congress so there’s really no regulation on it. You can check out the websites, sometimes you can just list yourself as a possible player and see if a team picks you up. I played for years because I had some friends who were hill staffers. They’re a fun and rowdy bunch.

    4. saro*

      Loved living in DC. Check craigslist for shared housing and also for all the free events put on by the Smithsonian, Embassies and other groups!!!

    5. DC Girl*

      DC is awesome!
      * Live near the metro…it will make your life a whole lot easier.
      * See if your company offers transit benefits (formerly known as Metro Checks, not sure what the official name is now) your company can either contribute to your transit costs pre-tax, or you can use your own pre-tax money to pay for some transit costs.
      * Your best bet to save money on rent is a room in a group home. Check craig’s list in the Shared and Sublet sections.
      * Be aware of scams on craig’s list, however. If the rent is too good to be true, it probably is. (Once your in DC, it’s easy to check to see if the photos in the pictures match the typical houses in the area; but before you get there this can be hard).
      * take advantage of restaurant week to visit the fancy restaurants–for lunch, especially.
      *a lot of neighborhoods have listserves that have events in the area and other good-to-know info.

      1. Natalie*

        Slightly out of the normal purview of AAM, but regarding apartment scams on Craigslist: if you’re familiar with the usual online scams you’ll only end up wasting your time replying to ads from people who then claim they have been called to a mission in Africa and will mail you the keys in exchange for first, last, and deposit.

        That said, there are some really common patterns in the ads you can look for even if you are unfamiliar with the area and the usual prices.
        * Claiming all utilities are provided, including phone, internet, and cable.
        * Photos don’t really fit together – the living room and kitchen have completely different walls, windows, trim, and decorating styles, and are noticeably different scales. Sometimes this is hilarious, like the apartment I saw with 3 dining rooms.
        * Photos with a hilariously wrong view. A couple of my favorites for Minneapolis apartments (plains state, very cold winters) were an apartment with tropical plants visible through the window, and the one with a fantastic view of a mountain peak.
        * A complete lack of specific details about the area. A normal apartment will say something like “short walk to Greenbelt metro station, Glut co-op, National Archives II, Rock Creek Park, etc”. Scam ads will say “near schools, park, theater, and shops” without listing the names of any of those things.

      2. danr*

        ” see if the photos in the pictures match the typical houses in the area; but before you get there this can be hard”
        Use google street view to do the comparisons.

      3. Rana*

        You can also talk with a rental company agency about rentals in the area to get a feel for the neighborhoods (some even have neighborhood profiles on their websites). Even if you’re planning to share rent with someone else, they can be a good resource.

    6. perrik*

      Ah, the cherry blossoms. They don’t quite make up for the icky summer weather or the truly hideous traffic (take normal horrible city traffic and add official motorcades, rallies & protests, bad drivers with diplomatic immunity, and an endless supply of I’m-more-important-than-you’ll-ever-be idiots). But they’re lovely. Trust me, you need to scope out your potential commute before picking a place to live. (I live in far northern Silver Spring and commute to Bailey’s Crossroads – it can be… difficult)

      Sounds like you need to hook up with the local chapter of the Young Non-Profit Professionals Network ( They hold lots of events and have a job board where you can see what’s out there in your field and area of interest. Pretty much any professional organization that has local chapters has one in DC, so there are more networking opportunities through that avenue.

      The best cheap ethnic food is in the suburbs (except for Ethiopian).

    7. Natalie*

      The best part about living in DC with very little money is how much free stuff there is to do. All of the federal parks and museums and so forth are free (including the zoo!) and they have lots of free events. I spent a semester in DC doing an internship and I think the only money I spent on entertainment was going to the movies occasionally.

      I would strongly recommend trying to live without a car. Aside from the fact that cars are expensive to own, traffic and parking in DC is an utter nightmare. The public transportation system is pretty good, although the bus and rail systems aren’t fully integrated which I thought was very weird. (I was there in 2006, though, so perhaps this has changed.)

      1. Jamie*

        I have to recommend the Surrat House in Clinton. When we lived on Andrews AFB we took the kids there a lot because it was cheap and really beautiful and so interesting.

        Never did see a ghost, but not for lack of trying.

        1. Laura L*

          Yeah, the Metro is okay, but not awesome. It runs very infrequently on evenings and weekends and they are always doing track work somewhere, which slows travel times a lot.

          It’s definitely better than not have a subway system, but it’s best for moving commuters during rush hour and not as great for locals who want to get around late at night or on weekend.

          I’d also recommend trying the buses. they aren’t as fast as the metro, but they go to most areas of the city, so you may not need to walk as much or make a transfer.

    8. Laura L*

      Let’s see… DC is getting expensive, quickly. You’ll find cheaper housing if you’re willing to live with other people and even then, it will be cheaper the further it is from the Metro.

      But, don’t worry, many neighborhoods that aren’t super close to the Metro are still nice. Petworth is up and coming, but I think it still has affordable rents. H-Street is a great neighborhood, but it’s gotten expensive, even for shared housing and it’s a mile from the nearest metro stations.

      Depending on your budget and if you’d prefer to live alone, look into income-based rental units. There are a lot of buildings where apartments are less expensive than others in DC, but your income has to be below a certain level or within a certain range (like, say $37,000 – $42,000 or something). This is how I found my current place and, for my personal and financial situation, it’s great! In my first place, I lived with 3 other people and paid approximately what I pay now in rent and utilities.

      Which is another point: If you’re sharing a place, I’d really try to look for places that are actually cheap (like under $1000). These are very competitive, but they are out there.
      Unfortunately, finding great, affordable housing is mostly luck.

    9. Laura L*

      I have more and didn’t want my last comment to be as long as a blog post:

      -Eat homemade meals as much as possible. Bring lunch to work. If you go out for happy hour, bring dinner to eat before hand or eat when you get home.
      -People love happy hours.
      -Also, brunch.
      -Do you have a personal network? Connect with them, try to meet people through them. You never know when a personal contact will help you out professionally.
      -Make sure you have appropriate clothing. People in DC dress very professionally and conservatively. Lots of black and gray, women often wear skirts and heels and have polished hair and makeup.
      -Join the DC Ecowomen mailing list. It’s all environment-related, but it’s a lot of people who are interested in non-profit work.
      -If you’re UU or something related, join the Young Souls email list. It’s a group of 18-35 yos at the All Souls church and many of them are interested in non-profit, social justice type stuff.
      -Join a kickball team!
      -Don’t overlook Maryland as a place to live. Silver Spring is nice, Takoma Park is quirky and interesting and some of the places along the green line are affordable, although not close to the nightlife.

      1. Laura L*

        Also, try meetup or a non-kickball sports league! Or take an improv class! They are super fun and a nice way to relax and be silly in an otherwise serious city.

        I’m sure I could go on, but I’ll wait until you respond. :-)

        1. Erin*

          Awww, thank you, Laura!

          It has been really hard finding housing; I’ve sent out a few inquiries to listings I saw on craigslist, but no one’s responded so far. I guess it must really be so competitive that the landlords/roommates are being extremely picky.

          1. Laura L*

            Yes, it’s definitely a landlords’ and roommates’ market in DC!

            You could also try Brookland or Fort Totten. I’m not sure how safe Fort Totten is, but new apartments are being built near the Metro. Brookland is a residential neighborhood and it’s also where Catholic University is. Again, though, not much nightlife in either place.

            Glad I can be helpful! I love giving people advice on stuff like this1

            1. Realistic*

              Sounds like we could assemble an AAM Meetup! I’m in Greenbelt (at the end of the Green Line) and love it here. Hubby Metros into the District every day, while I happily work in my jammies from home. The advantage to the end of the Metro line is that it’s cheaper to live out here, and you’re the first stop on the line so you always get a seat going in to work.

              I second a lot of what’s been said — DC is a socialable city with lots of ways to connect with others, in part because I think it’s a pretty transitional city. A lot of people come here to live or work that are not from here. Oh, if you’re coming from the Midwest, know that some very basic ingredients for cooking that you may be used to can’t be found here. I have had to have stuff sent from Ohio just to make things that will ease my homesickness. Now, if I could just get DC drivers to see a turn signal as something other than a challenge to get IN MY WAY. ;-)

              1. Anonymous_J*

                An AAM Meetup would be a lot of fun! I’m out in Gaithersburg (well, Montgomery Village, which is really just a suburb of Gaithersburg. LOL!)

                1. Anonymous*

                  I agree! There’s a subgroup in the LinkedIn group for people in the DMV area. We can coordinate through that.

                  Ooh! Maybe we could do an AAM congressional softball team!

  18. SeaTown*

    I will be managing a booth at large industry association expo next month. I’m currently job hunting and want to network as much as possible at this expo in hopes of finding job opportunities. There will be quite a bit of downtime where the attendees are in meeting so I can chat with the other booth managers without customers present. I will have my target companies mapped out ahead of time. Are printed resume’s passé? Any advice on how I should approach this in a professional and efficient manner is greatly appreciated.

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      I would use the event as a networking event. Meet people, shake hands, exchange business cards. Don’t just jump on them when you get back home, it will look like you’re job shopping. Cultivate your network and try to build on the relationship. Once you have a relationship instead of a contact, they will be more willing to help you.

      If you handed me a resume at an industry event, I would think “How could I ever entrust this person to represent my business interests if they are handing out resumes?”

      Others will disagree.

      1. EM*

        I agree. Don’t pounce on people armed with a resume. Think of your goal as meeting people and forming relationships rather than coming home with job leads.

      2. Rana*

        I agree; business cards are better. Then after the event follow up with an email reminding them of your conversation, etc. And, yes, think of this more in terms of increasing your network than looking for job possibilities. First steps first.

  19. Katie the Fed*

    OK, I’ll jump in. In our last open thread I asked for advice about whether or not I should give everyone on my team a holiday card with a personalized note about how much I appreciate something specific that they contribute. The response was positive so I did it and gave some treats with them (we can’t really do big gifts and bonuses are a different time of year).

    The response was overwhelming – everyone just LOVED them. I got so many sincere thank yous and people saying it was one of the nicest things they’ve ever had a manager do :)

    Just a little bit of effort and it really made the team happy. I really do appreciate them – it was nice to take a chance to tell them.

    1. khilde*

      That’s great to hear! Just goes to prove that it doesn’t take much beyond a few nice, sincere, and specific words of thanks to make people really happy. Good job!!

    2. Scott M*

      I would bet that the key was the ‘specific’ positive feedback. While virtue is its own reward, it’s always nice to know that someone is paying attention to your work. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten anything other than a general “thanks for all that you do”.

      Good for you!

  20. BL*

    I am in my second full time post college job. My first position was awesome but the funding wasn’t very stable and, after a change in administration, my direct supervisor recommended I look for a new position. I found a new position and have been very happy there for the past year. A close friend of mine has been in a position very similar to my first one minus the financial instability. She is moving on to something better and encouraged me to apply. I am trying to decide what to do. I am concerned about looking flighty if my first two full time positions last 1 year-18 months. Any thoughts?

      1. BL*

        That’s what I keep thinking. I have two reasons for even considering the potential job: 1. Location. It would be in a different city about 1.5 hours away where I attended college and still have a lot of close friends and some family. 2. Culture. The position would give me more autonomy and flexibility. While I really like my current job, I work for a large company and as a whole, it is very rigid and policy based. This hasn’t been a big issue for me as my direct management is more flexible but in order to advance, I would have to leave my small department eventually.

        1. BL*

          That should be a city 1.5 hours from where I am now. The potential job is in the city I attended college.

        2. fposte*

          Sure, but why now? Your friend’s attempt to move doesn’t make any material difference–is it just that it made you think about the possibility of moving? If so, why not take the time to really take your current position as far as you can go while you scope out the market in Different City, and look in a year or so. That’s a lot less job-hoppy and gives you a better chance of a rewarding landing at the new place anyway.

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      What does the new position offer that the current one doesn’t?

      I am expecting recent grads to have a couple jobs right out of school. Not everybody makes the right choice the first time around. (Some don’t make the right choice the fifth time around, but I digress). I’m not afraid of two jobs in two years as long as it’s followed up by stable employment. That makes the next one more critical and what happens if you hate it?

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      If you’re happy — and not just okay, but happy — think VERY carefully about whether you want to trade that away on the unknown.

      If you move, you need to know that you’ll HAVE to stay at your next job for at least two years. You can pull a short stint once and get away with it. Twice is harder. Any more than that, forget it. So if you like where you’re at now, why blow that on “maybe,” unless the financial impact would be significant (and I mean REALLY significant)?

      I’m speaking from experience — I left a position where I was content if not ecstatic, for one that sounded even better. Just three months into the new gig I was looking for another job. I ended up landing a job at a previous employer, but it took me another six months to get it, and I was miserable the whole time. But I knew I couldn’t just leap at anything, because…see above about being able to get away with one short stint, but not more than that.

      Being happy is worth a lot — especially when you’re at a point in your career that you’d better not take your next job without being certain that you can stay there for a good long while.

  21. Interviewee*

    Sorry in advance for the length of this…I had an in-person interview recently for a dream job, probably in large part due to the advice here on AAM (thanks, Alison!!!). Usually I think that the phrase “dream job” is overused, but this is literally my dream job. It is in my exact field of interest, more responsibility, HUGE pay increase, and I would get to live overseas in a country that I’ve always wanted to live in (and I loved the city when I visited for the interview).

    They have asked me for a follow-up, informal interview via Skype, and they said it is down to me and one other person. They said that this interview is my chance to ask them questions, and talk more about salary, relocation expenses, living in that city, etc. My question has to do with what types of questions to ask them…the first interview was very in-depth, and I asked a lot of questions about the organization and job itself, and I do feel like I have a very good grasp on what the position will entail. I have a list of questions that I would ask if/when it comes down to negotiating (especially relocation expenses), but I don’t want to ask questions that might raise red flags about whether I am just concerned about the money and/or too worried about the move (it will be a huge complicated move, but I’m ready for the adventure), since I am still competing with someone else.

    The informal interview is with a subset of people that were in the in-person interview, so they know all the material that we’ve already covered. Any suggestions on somewhat innocuous questions to ask, to show interest, but not give them anything to worry about?

    1. Jamie*

      I have no advice, but my fingers are crossed for you. I also think ‘dream job’ is an often overused phrase – but this seems like a textbook definition to me.

      Good luck!

      1. Interviewee*

        Thanks! My fingers will probably be misshapen by the time this is through, with all of the finger-crossing I’m doing!

    2. Josh S*

      Ask about the team, the management style, the dynamic/personality of the team. Try to genuinely get a sense of how you’d get along with those people.

      If it helps, try to think of it as trying to figure out which of two fraternities/sororities to join. One is a party frat and another is an academic frat. Which suits you better? What would you want to know about the culture?

      And of course, you can always pull out the fantastic question that I first saw here on AskAManager — “Thinking back over people who have held this position, what separated the ‘good’ employees from the ‘truly GREAT’ employees?” (Of course, find your own phrasing so that you can make it sound and feel genuine, natural, and curious.)

      Good luck. Sounds like a fantastic opportunity. Fingers crossed over here, and I said a quick prayer for ya.

      1. Small Nonprofit Employee*

        Thank you, I will try and think of questions that will help get at the culture- not that I don’t like to have a good time, but the academic sorority would definitely be more me :)

        1. Josh S*

          Doubly so since you’d be moving to a new city/country/culture, and most of your interpersonal interaction is going to be with these people. It’s hard enough to change cultures–a LOT harder if you have to do it surrounded by people who you can’t relate with.

  22. Anonymous just in case...*

    I work for a nonprofit, reporting to the Assistant Director for one of its units. I do budgeting, strategic planning and the like. The Asst. Dir. was acting Director for about a year while the search for that position was ongoing. We hired a new director about 18 months ago and the Asst Dir reports to the Director. We are a small directorate (5 people) and everyone works extensively with one another.

    My issue is…The Director and Asst Dir do not get along. I thought this would improve with time but it hasn’t. At all. They have vastly different approaches (the Asst Dir is very “feelings” oriented, the Director is very data-driven) and neither respects the other’s way of doing things. They argue, mostly in private but sometimes in meetings I attend, where it turns into one of those “Oh please god let the floor open up and swallow me” type of things. My boss complains to me about the Director and I find myself on the uncomfortable end of being asked pointed questions by Director about why my boss did such-and-such, and/or how boss did it.

    All that is bad enough and I’ve been navigating it pretty well, I think, by being professional and neutral as much as possible. But now Director has taken an interest in me and my career, saying things like she enjoys working with me, values my contributions, etc. and she’s recently started asking me to do projects that would normally be something my boss would do, without telling my boss. These projects are things that will help me advance my career.

    I want to progress at this company and I like my work. I don’t feel comfortable declining these projects from my director (nor do I want to, because of my desire to advance) and so far have been accepting and saying things like “Great, I’d love to do Thing X! Have you already told Asst Dir I’ll be taking this on, or shall I?” But that only goes so far because it irks Director if I ask too often, and my boss thinks I’m not doing enough to be on “her side.”

    So AAM Nation…What suggestions do you have to help me navigate this situation without crashing my own career/growth path?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I might just talk to the director directly about your worries — explain your thrilled by the projects she’s giving you but a bit uncertain about how to navigate it with the assistant director and ask for her advice.

  23. fposte*

    I just wanted to give a shout out to Mike C., whose thread comments about resumes/cover letters I recently grabbed to highlight to a young colleague (in addition to Alison’s own advice, of course). Thanks, Mike!

  24. khilde*

    Who watches Downton Abbey? I just finished watching the second season and desperately, desperately need to talk about it with someone!!! No one in my life watches it. And I don’t really have time to go to other websites and I love the AAM community so I need to make contact with other fans here :) (I’m in the US, by the way)

      1. khilde*

        Oh, yes, please do. I love period dramas and even though I never thought I’d like the 1910’s – I am in love. The story is great and the characters are awesome. And it’s British and I am a fan of that, too.

      2. Anonymous*

        Season 1 is streaming on Netflix right now. Season 2 is on Amazon Prime and HuluPlus. It’s really good!

    1. fposte*

      I have a multi-region DVD player, so I’ve seen the third season :-).

      To be honest, I loved the first season and think the second season was absolutely bat-guano crazy. Not that I stopped watching or enjoying (I’ll watch Maggie Smith be aristocratically horrible any time), but it was like a whole nother show. I was therefore delighted when David Mitchell did one of his three-minute Soapbox rants on that very thing:

      1. khilde*

        Huh. I never would have thought about that stuff at all! I watched the link and I think I’m the people he was talking about at the end. That just keeps on happily watching through season 2 and not thinking a bit of difference! Most people must have higher standards than me – I think I’m easily amused :) :)

        I think the Dowager Countess just got better and better through the second season.

        1. fposte*

          She is absolutely epic. (And I still can’t stop watching it, regardless of how it makes me pull my hair out.) Penelope Wilton is also unspeakably wonderful as her earnest middle-class foil. I also like the endless sibling drama (I think Edith needs to officially change her name to Poor Edith, though).

          1. Tricia*

            My favorite Maggie Smith one liner was to cousin Violet, who had just accused her of something nefarious that the Dowager Countess actually *didn’t* do:

            “So put that in your pipe and smoke it!”

          2. LPBB*

            Does this mean season 3 is just as crazed as season 2? I love the acting and costumes on this show, I don’t want to have to give up on it because it loses all touch with reality!

            And I agree about Edith, in fact that’s what I say just about any time she’s on the screen.

            1. khilde*

              (POSSIBLE SPOILER) So here’s my prediction for one aspect of Season 3: I could see Matthew & Mary getting married as we are led to believe; and then that supposed drowned Titanic heir coming back. I have absolutely nothing to base this on (and I really suck at plot points), but I still keep thinking “wait. what the hell happened to the heir?!” Ooh! And if gets really crazy I suppose Edith could marry the Titanic heir and then it would be a battle between Mary & Matthew and Edith & Titanic Heir.

              I never thought of it like a bad soap opera (or out of touch soap opera). It makes me sad that people say that cause I have never been a soap opera watching kind of person!. But I don’t care because the costumes, accents, and history clouds my discerning tastes :) :)

              1. fposte*

                I realized my priorities when I found the prison scenes bored me because there weren’t any pretty dresses to look at.

                1. khilde*

                  Yeah, that’s what I meant – I just didn’t make myself very clear!! He was in it for that one episode in season 2 and with how abruptly he left I thought it odd that we’d never heard about him again. I would predict he’d resurface in S3, but who knows!

      2. Heather*

        I’ve seen Season 3 and the Christmas special. I love British tv in that they actually have tv shows people want to watch on Christmas Day.

    2. Scott M*

      I must say that my wife got me interested in it, much to my chagrin. I should know by now that she is almost always right.

      1. Jamie*

        Yes, Sherlock! The lack of closure on how he did what he did in the last scene is killing me. The wait is unbearable.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I had a hard time watching the last episode after seeing The Hobbit–I kept expecting Watson to pull out a pipe and put his hairy feet up, or for Gandalf to walk in. And thinking Martin Freeman looked weird without his Bilbo hair and clothes.

    3. EM*

      I love downton abbey! It’s totally a soap opera, but since it’s British, and its historical, that makes it okay. :)

      1. khilde*

        See, that’s how I reason it. I truly never thought of it like a soap opera. I suppose I assume that British TV doesn’t do soap operas like Guiding Light or whatever. American soap operas seem horrendous to me – but I’m a sucker for period dramas so I guess this is why I never equated it with a soap opera.

  25. Broken Arm*

    I broke my arm quite severely over the holiday weekend, and am wondering what sort of accommodations I can reasonably expect my employer to provide.

    I work full time in a very small, yet very busy office. I wear a lot of hats, but I spend the majority of my day typing various documents and entering data. My speed and accuracy has been noticeably impacted- today I’ve completed about 1/3 of what I normally would.

    Also, I work part time as a server in a locally owned, very popular restaurant. I am not able to carry any trays for at least 5 weeks (an optimistic time frame), potentially longer, as my doctor is considering surgery. Aside from that, I am quite capable of performing my job to my normal high standards.

    I realize that my performance will improve as my arm heals and I become used to the awkwardness that accompanies a cast that goes from finger tips to elbow. I am genuinely concerned about how the businesses may suffer due to my current condition. Does anyone have suggestions as to what I should expect? Or any tips for going about life with only one functional arm?

    1. Interviewee*

      Sorry you are going through this. I don’t know much (ok, really anything) about this, but is temporary disability an option? Do you have any temp disability insurance through work or somewhere else?

      Hope it all goes smoothly for you. I once injured myself and was out of work for 6 weeks, but luckily I was injured on the job, so worker’s comp took care of things. Good luck!

      1. Broken Arm*

        Unfortunately disability isn’t an option. I have major medical coverage, so the hospital bills aren’t a huge concern, but I don’t have temporary disability. I don’t have sick leave or vacation days to take–if I don’t work, I don’t get paid.

    2. fposte*

      Are they generally sane? I would expect this to be treated sanely, if so. Take the initiative of going to your supervisor to say that you’re keen to minimize the burden of this in the meantime, and are there any suggestions about how you should approach it? It sounds like your office is too small to be covered by FMLA, but they may still be willing to work with you when you go out for surgery; I wouldn’t expect that to be a surgery that requires you to stay home for a long time.

      I don’t know much about server positions, but I think that’s tougher if you really can’t do what it is you’re hired to do for a while. (Again, assuming that FMLA isn’t involved, given that this is part time on top of full time). Again assuming they’re sane, I’d go with full disclosure and a reasonable estimate of when you’d be able to carry trays again.

      Good luck! And treat yourself kindly–it’s amazing how exhausting that kind of thing can make daily life.

    3. EM*

      I would double check with your company about temporary disability. I broke my ankle about two years ago, and I went back to work part time after about a week after the initial break. (I had to lay on the couch an moan whilst medicated on Vicodin at first.) I got paid a certain percentage of my salary while on leave. Since it was my ankle, I could type just fine, but I got tired more easily than normal. Be sure you go easy on yourself. Healing takes energy.

  26. Anon.*

    Any tips for business trips (about a week)? Any etiquette, packing, etc. tips are appreciated like in the first question about out of town interview etiquette! Thank you :)

    1. badger_doc*

      -Fit everything you need into a carry-on suitcase if you can. Sometimes you need to take this with you and nothing sucks more than lugging a huge suitcase around when you don’t need to. And lost luggage sucks. Also, roller bags are a must!
      -Remember to save your receipts! Keep track of cash tips, tolls, parking, meals, etc so you can expense them later. I have a special spot in my wallet/purse for receipts and it helps when filling out expense reports.
      -I love lists–I make a list of every article of clothing I need a couple days in advance. Always make sure to have an extra bra/pairs of underwear in case of spills. I usually wear pants twice and pack a shirt per day +1 extra. That way you can save space. Try to only pack one pair of shoes (they take up a lot of room).
      -Don’t forget your business cards and folio (for pen and paper). You never know who you will meet and when you will need to take notes about something.
      -I usually always carry a manila envelope with me including my flight itinerary, hotel confirmation and rental car confirmation. I realize all this is also available on my phone/computer but I always like to have hard copies in case I need to access them quickly.
      -Make sure you have the name and number of the people you will be meeting. Nothing is more embarrassing than showing up and not remembering who you are supposed to be meeting with…

      Have fun! Explore the city if you can, especially if it is new to you! I love business trips. Sometimes I even fly out a day or two early (if I can travel over a weekend) to have a mini personal vacation. Flight’s already paid for, isn’t it? :-)

  27. Miss Pelling*

    Hi AAM and Readers! Based on Alison’s post about cover letters being wrong, even when others say they’re great, I’ve decided to take a leap and show you all what I’m working with. I got my Master’s degree in June and have been hit hard with hundreds of rejection letters since then. I’ve only gotten three interviews. This is an example of the type of cover letter I send. Hit me up with some feedback. Thanks!

    Dear Mr. X,

    I am writing to express my enthusiastic interest in the X position at the X. I hope you will consider my library experience, technological expertise, public library passion, and years of working directly with and for diverse populations an asset to these two busy branches.

    At the X during my six-month stint as a Directed Fieldwork student at the X, I helped implement various programming—from story times and teen space to mother-daughter book clubs. I helped facilitate the book club by initiating questions and enabling lively discussion. During my time as the Chair of the student chapter of the Special Libraries Association, I put together multiple programs that brought various professional and student groups together. My biggest event was putting on a student night, during which dinner was served as various speakers presented. Putting together all of these moving parts was my responsibility. At X, I worked with many recent U.S. citizens and non-native speakers to help them develop their computer skills to take online classes or send an email. I am a Homework Help volunteer at the X branch, which puts me in touch with the Eastern African families that reside in X. I have conversational Spanish skills and am currently enrolled in a course to develop a stronger fluency.

    My work at X was incredibly important to me, it was wonderful to be on the reference desk, never knowing what the next question would be! I jumped quickly and easily into the role of working at the reference desk and became proficient at using Horizon and Infonet. I tend to take on the questions from the patrons as my own, and often will continue researching even after the reference interaction is through. I’ve helped many patrons address a multitude of issues, from digital download troubleshooting to helping a 6th grader find that next great read. My supervisor often complimented my excellent “welcoming behavior.” My other work there included programming, collection maintenance, and display creation.
    One of X’s guiding principles is to “Respect and embrace the entire community,” I believe I exemplify this principle. My experience with diverse populations would enable me to be a strong contributor to this role. Prior to earning my MLIS, I was on the ground floor in an initiative to start the first online magazine for the disability community. I worked directly with people with various disabilities—both as colleagues and within the disability community. I’m comfortable around all people, and I believe this comfort puts others at ease. I can easily adapt to communicate with individuals based on their needs and abilities to make sure they receive the assistance they seek. A big part of that job was exploring the community of disability, researching the needs, and developing resources and tools to meet those needs. I believe this translates well to the role of the librarian, whose job it can be to go out into the community he or she serves and develop the means in which to best serve it.
    I am a self-motivated, fast learner. I work well in teams, but also thrive when working independently. I trained and managed twenty-five writers and staffers at my previous job and developed accompanying training materials. Additionally, I’ve had to jump in and learn new technology very quickly in previous positions and would bring some tech skills to X, including web publishing, social media strategies, video editing, and Photoshop skills.

    I’d really appreciate an opportunity to discuss my qualifications in further detail if possible. Thank you, Mr. X, I look forward to hearing from you.
    Miss Pelling

    1. Katie in Ed*

      I think you would do well to pare down some of the duties mentioned in your letter and instead focus on what value you can add to the places to which you are applying.While it’s always good to be positive when discussing previous employers, this reads like a love letter for your former position, and some might wonder why you are leaving. Also, your letter shouldn’t rehash your your responsibilities and accomplishments – that’s what your resume is for. Pick the accomplishments your potential employer might find most compelling (and this may be different from employer to employer, which is why tailoring cover letters is so important) and focus on how you would use them to achieve their mission.

    2. cali7*

      It seems quite long to me, though I’m not a hiring manager or a librarian. Personally, I found myself skimming though (and I’m not a busy HR person). Also, there are a few places where you repeat words in quick succession (read the section on “putting stuff together” and “reference desk” aloud). If you combined some of that it would be shorter and more concise.

      However, you have great experience and strong accomplishments and I wish you the best!

    3. Zed*

      Instead of focusing on your past experiences, skills and accomplishments (which should all be in your resume), you should focus on how these experiences and skills make you a good candidate for this position. You are talking too much about yourself and not enough about the library where you want to work.

      For example, instead of saying that you are developing your Spanish, say, “I speak conversational Spanish and am completing a course to develop my fluency. My Spanish skills will allow me to better communicate with Latino patrons at the reference desk and to work with community members to [hold Spanish-language book clubs/story time/whatever].” Or whatever is true. How will your Spanish language skills help THEM?

      As you’re applying to a specific position, go through the job posting and make a list of job duties and required/desired qualifications. If possible, address each one in your cover letter.

      But, all that aside, don’t take all the rejections so personally. You just graduated, and it is a tough job market out there. I didn’t get my first full-time job until I had been out of library school for two full years!

      1. T.*

        Good points! I take a similar approach to writing cover letters where my body paragraphs tell a story of my accomplishments in a previous role, skills I gained, and wraps up with a sentence explaining why that is important/beneficial to the job I’m applying for. I think the last sentence is key in tying everything together and reminding the reader why you’re the best person for the job.

        I’m also a recent grad and I’ve been job searching for a couple months now, so take that advice with a grain of salt, but every interview I’ve had I’ve received compliments on my cover letter. Still looking, but I figure I’m on the right track and the right job will come along soon!

        Good luck with your search OP!

    4. mary*

      I read your cover letter and it looks like you do what I used to do (that is, before I started reading AAM). I tried to cover every point that was included in the job posting. I was trying to take a few pieces of your letter and give an example of how I would pare down each piece but ended up doing the whole letter. I hope you find it helpful.

      Dear Mr. X,
      Knowing your organization’s guiding principle to “Respect and embrace the entire community”, and my past experience working with diverse populations and a passion for public libraries, I am writing to express my keen interest in the X position at the X.
      As a student and a professional, I have developed and implemented a wide range of programming. Reading groups, book clubs, computer education and special events were all a part of my work. As Chair of the Special Libraries Association’s Student Chapter, I planned an evening to bring together professionals and students groups which included a [sit-down/buffet] dinner for [#] people and arranging guest speaker presentations. I volunteer as a Homework Helper, and many clients are East African residents of X. I work with many people who are new to the USA and have english as their second language, to learn computer and internet skills. In a new initiative to create an online magazine for the disabled, I researched their community and needs and developed resources and tools to meet those needs. I am comfortable working directly with these various groups and believe this translates well to the role of a librarian.
      My strong proficiency using Horizon and Infonet was developed while I worked on the reference desk at X. Researching answers to patrons’ questions was a great experience with the challenge of never knowing what the next question might be! While working in this role, I also developed programming, maintained collections and created displays.
      I possess strong technical and computer skills and have no fear in learning new systems and keeping up with new technology. Also, I am studying to improve my conversational Spanish.
      I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss my qualifications in further detail. Please call 123-456-7891 or email
Miss Pelling

    5. Josh S*

      At first glance, it felt very ‘Wall-of-Text’ to me. Too many words, not enough space. I thought it was a result of the narrow column in the blog comments, so I copied it to Word — but it still reads that way.

      So…some thoughts:
      -You need to highlight one or two things that make you stand out for this job. Not “Every thing I’ve done that is related to this job” but the “30 second elevator speech” that tells ONE or TWO things. Your resume will give me the details of the things you’ve accomplished, there’s no need to repeat it in the cover letter. (Your 3rd full paragraph is pretty decent at doing this, but your 2nd paragraph is pretty lousy at it.)
      -Tell me the things about this job that EXCITE you, and why. Connect this to your experience. You’ve got experience meeting the needs of the disabled? Well then, say, “I am excited about the chance to meet the needs of the disabled, which are provided by $Position. I’ve done it in the past, and I really have a passion for helping understand the needs and meet them in ways that help them enjoy libraries” or whatever. Don’t just list your previous jobs–connect it to the psoition you’re applying to.
      -The second-to-last paragraph (self-motivated, fast learner, etc) is pretty subjective and could largely be left out. If you want to include anything, talk about the technology, and how your experience could potentially be used to improve the place you’re looking to join, and why it would excite you to exercise those skills.

      I hope that helps. I hope it’s not too cutting. You have good stuff in there too, but you could use a revamp of the cover-letter IMO. Good luck.

      1. Josh S*

        PS. Give it VOICE! You have a very formal, stilted tone that smells like a thesaurus. (Maybe that’s a positive for a librarian? I dunno…) But it doesn’t show your personality either.

        A better exercise would perhaps be to explain to a friend why you’re excited about *this* job. Have your friend ask questions to clarify. Record it. Listen to it. Especially the parts that get you excited in your tone of voice. Put those parts on paper–including the excitement. That’s your cover letter. Not a list of “what I did” in the past, or “here’s my skill that meets your X requirement”. But “Ohmygod! I reallyhopeIgetthisjobcuzit’dbeawesome to __________.” That’s the tone you want to convey…just professional spelling, grammar, etc. :)

    6. Jessica*

      I’m a public library manager with hiring responsibilities, and I agree with other posters that it’s long and overly wordy. I would suggest making it shorter and more concise. Also, speaking from experience, be sure to emphasize any technology skills you may have. Leading book clubs and staffing the reference desk are definitely important, but most library school grads know how to do those things. I always look to hire people with strong computer skills and an interest in technology because I know that they’ve been paying attention to the changing nature of this profession. Aspiring public librarians who are computer illiterate are almost as sad as aspiring public librarians who think we sit around and read books all day.

      The job market is terrible, so don’t be discouraged by the number of rejection letters, because it probably has nothing to do with you! Do whatever you can to get your foot in the door somewhere, even if it means taking a less than ideal position outside your comfort zone. If you’re at all interested in cataloging and technical services, those positions seem to have fewer applicants, at least around here (I’m in the midwest). Good luck!

    7. Job seeker*

      You sound like you have so much to offer. Cover letters were hard for me to write. I had a hard time saying I was all that when I felt anything but all that. My son helped me write a good one and I have used this as a outline.

      Maybe, if you just shorter this letter a bit it would be helpful. It is harder to get interviews now than it use to be. At my last job, I got an interview and was hired at the first place I applied. I did not have a cover letter either. That was not that long ago, but I believe the hiring manager liked me. She had been a stay-at-home Mom before and she was willing to take a chance on me. I was very lucky that time.

      Take it from someone that seems to have done so many things the wrong way, you sound so very accomplished. I hope you find something soon. Good luck with your search.

  28. -X-*

    I’m not commenting on the content, but on the writing: try to use fewer words. If you have time, cut every word you can. This isn’t always easy.

    For example, in this phrase, “which puts me in touch with the Eastern African families that reside in X.” The word “the” is unnecessary.

    In this phrase “enthusiastic interest” the word “enthusiastic” is unnecessary. In general, if you can remove an adjective or adverb and meaning is the same, cut those words.

    I suspect this letter has too much general information in it as well, but am not sure my judgement on that is sound.

    1. Ellie H.*

      I agree. Take out as many words as possible. I think it’s especially important not to use adjectives like “enthusiastic” because you should show that you’re enthusiastic in the tone of the writing.I would also cut out all “I believe” and similar – if you really believe it, than just say it flat out.

      I did an edit of it too but I have no special qualifications besides enjoying editing. (I too was just going to do a sample paragraph and got carried away.) But I would make it still shorter than this and try to emphasize what you could do *for them* (with specificity where possible) instead of just what you yourself have done. Good luck!

      “Dear Mr. X,

      I’m interested in the X position at the X. I think that my technological expertise and years of experience serving diverse populations at [x, y] would be an asset to these two busy branches.

      While I was a Directed Fieldwork student at the X, I worked on programming such as story times, teen programs and mother-daughter book clubs. I also have experience planning events from my time as Chair of the student chapter of the Special Libraries Association, where I planned events for both professional and student groups. In addition to event planning, I’m experienced in collection maintenance and creating displays. I also consider my experience helping patrons at the reference desk especially meaningful and rewarding. I’ve used Horizon and Infonet to help patrons with reference questions ranging from digital download troubleshooting to helping a 6th grader find the next great read. My supervisor often complimented my excellent welcoming manner toward patrons.

      I’m committed to the principle of respecting and embracing the entire library community. At X, I have worked with many recent U.S. citizens and non-native speakers on computer skills. I have experience working with East African families as a homework help volunteer, and I have also been able to use my Spanish to assist patrons. Additionally, I worked on an initiative to start the first online magazine for the disability community which included researching the needs of the community and developing resources and tools to meet those needs. [Specific example?] I’m excited to bring my commitment to using information to the diverse patron body of [your library].

      Besides these demonstrated skills, I’m a self-motivated and fast learner and have been able to jump in and learn new technology very quickly in previous positions. My tech skills include web publishing, social media strategies, video editing, and Photoshop. I also have experience training and managing twenty-five writers and staffers (including developing training materials). From these abilities and experiences, as well as my commitment to serving the diverse body of [x library’s] patrons, I’d be very effective in the position of [librarian at x]. Thank you for your time and consideration.

  29. AnonA*

    I offered to review a resume for a guy who used to work for me as a temp (I left the job for greener pastures four months ago). He’s in his early 20s, an engineer by schooling and not a native English speaker (fluent enough when you speak with him, but complex emails would show subject-verb issues). His resume was a bit of a mess, as I remembered, but the issue is the extent of the mess. I was hoping to just point out grammar issues, but it’s a hot mess of a resume–unclear, repetitive, jargony, job duty-oriented.

    In short, he really needs help (btw he’s a fabulous worker and was brought on by the person who supervised my team, so the resume was not a barrier then). Help that would mean meeting with him to parse out what the heck it all means. I don’t know if I have the time for this,but I am pretty certain he doesn’t have many other options to get a good resume done. Ideas?

    1. Josh S*

      Offer a set amount of time that you can work with him. Tell him sorry, but you’ve got to stop when that time is over.

      Put him in touch with someone you respect.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You might say something like, “To be honest, this resume doesn’t convey that you’re a great worker, which I know you to be. I think you could really benefit from getting some in-depth help with it, which isn’t something I can really do, but maybe you can look into some resources for resume help online?”

      1. Natalie*

        Given the amount of crappy resources online, it might be even better to direct him to some specific articles. The cover letter and interview roundup from a couple of days ago would be a great place to start.

  30. Anon*

    I’m in a long distance relationship with someone I really care about.

    The big problem: He’s in his late 20’s and even with his bachelors he’s barley been able to find work. For the last 6 months he’s basically been doing unpaid work just to have experience on his resume.

    I’ve seen him apply EVERYWHERE – from high up where he could use his degree down to mcdonalds, and movie places. In the last 3 years he hasn’t gotten a single interview except for the unpaid position (they were thrilled to get him.)

    I’ve never had a problem getting a job but I have a lot of skills and the economy where I live is pretty booming.

    He lives in LA.. and I’ve seen him apply to tons and tons of jobs. For those of you in LA: Is the economy really that bad?

    What are some ideas for strategies for him to get some work in a bad economy?

    Unlike me, he has poor people skills, no phone skills, and no physical labor skills – it makes it tough for him to get any kind of job – even at a place like labor works. His degree is in video game design – he would take a minimum wage job, but like I said he hasn’t been able to get interviews.

    Just want some ideas because his inability to find any kind of job is killing us.

    1. Katie in Ed*

      LA’s unemployment rate is 11.2%, which is quite a bit higher than the national average. But if your partner has “poor people skills, no phone skills, and no physical labor skills,” that disqualifies him for a lot of modern work. If these barriers are intractable, he might want to consider developing skills for jobs that would work with his personality. I’m not sure what that would be (though if he’s studied game design, he might be able to do coding work), but three years without an interview means it’s time to make some changes.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Los Angeles is not a great place to live if you don’t have any money. It’s a very expensive city.

      I second what Katie said. He needs to go to the local career center and get some help with this. The one in my city has all kinds of resources for helping people find jobs, you can use the fax, etc. They have instruction to help you get better at skills- interviewing practice and the like.

      I found this link: This page lists some of the things they have: Hope it helps.

      1. Anon*

        Thank you. Part of the problem is that he comes from a middle class family and is honestly a bit spoiled. His family is the type that’s too proud to accept help but they gave him zero skills growing up. He’s painfully shy which is a big obstacle.

        I on the other hand grew up in a welfare family and learned the value of never being to proud and working with my hands if I had to. I worked my butt off to never see welfare again… I like this worksource idea but I’ll have to see how to get him to do it.

        1. Laura L*

          Being painfully shy is a real obstacle and I wouldn’t blame it on growing up “spoiled.” Loads of spoiled kids are very outgoing and talkative!

          Is there any free counseling in his area? Or could you help him pay for low-cost counseling? If he can work with a therapist who knows how to do CBT and can work with people with anxiety disorders, this may be helpful.

          1. Anonymous_J*

            I was also going to suggest counseling/therapy, because he really needs to develop some basic people skills, and the overwhelming shyness will DEFINITELY hold him back.

            Good luck to both of you!

    3. EM*

      How serious is the relationship? Is it not an option for him to move where you are where there may be more jobs for him? I was in a long distance relationship with my now husband, and it was very very difficult. I can’t imagine dealing with all of that on top of difficulties with the crappy economy.

      As Alison says, maybe his résumé and cover letters are the problem. Look at those first.

      1. Anon*

        Very serious but we’re both young and with his lack of money it’s difficult to move him up here.

        Sigh, if I didn’t have strong feelings about us not living together before marriage (especially as he hasn’t shown that he can support himself independently), it would be easier. I make good money, but not good enough to support us both independently for any length of time.

        I do think him moving here would make a world of difference for his career and job prospects (I’m close to Seattle). For the mean time though, we’ve got to get him some work where he is.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          For what it’s worth, is he as invested in taking action to solve this problem as you are? I ask because a lot of times, one partner is really invested in figuring out solutions to this type of thing, while the person who’s actually facing the problem isn’t addressing it with as much (or any) urgency … which sometimes can point to a different issue.

          1. Anon*

            He’s not. At the same time he’s been dealing with it for a lot longer than me – I come to it with a fresh perspective while he’s nearly given up from not being able to get anything. I’m just about at that point and I’m not the one getting the rejection letters.

            I’ve definitely gotten him to renew his efforts and we’ve both added a breath of fresh air to one another’s lives so I’ll continue to look for solutions. It’s tough when I see help wanted signs everywhere here but don’t see them anywhere when I visit him. I’m at a loss for advice to give him when getting a job here is so much easier.

            1. Anon*

              To give you an idea. He’s praying that he’ll get a job that a friend told him is available… a dish washing job.

              It’s tough when you’re in debt up to your ears from a 4 year degree and you’re looking at being a dishwasher – I have to give him credit for keeping any kind of positive attitude.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Ugh, I can imagine how tough this is, for both of you. The one thing I can say is that being the person pushing someone else to take certain actions to get a job rarely works — and often really messes with the dynamic of the relationship. It can put you in the role of nag/mom/caretaker, and it can make him end up feeling resentful or like he’s not self-sufficient (or like you don’t see him that way). Ultimately, it’s got to come from him — you can make suggestions if asked, but if you’re driving the process, it tends to be really bad for the relationship.

              (And I say this as someone who, as you might imagine, has had to really struggle with this tendency in relationships.)

              1. Anon*

                Thanks Alison. I do appreciate advice I can pass on to him but you make good points and it’s something I needed to hear.

  31. jesicka309*

    I need some advice (okay, not really advice, more reassurance)
    Any advice on surving the job search phase without going insane?
    Some people might remember that I am in a job I completely hate, and been floundering here for two years (I was also the OP in the bullied coworker letter).
    My job search hasn’t been going well – there is a distinct lack of marketing assistant jobs being advertised, and I can’t get into anything non-advertised as my field of choice (TV) is very chatty – I actually found out from my old boss at a rival TV station that there was a job opening in publicity ta my current TV station…but HR rules say I can’t go for the job because they haven’t posted the job on the internal system, it’s a word of mouth job etc.
    SO: How do you stay sane through this kind of difficulty? I’m working on my CV, but my job description is almost completely functional, and there are very minimal achievements to write (I completed 7 schedules a week, as rostered, and had 4 hours a day of downtime because there was no more work?).
    I’m studying marketing at uni through distance education (to add to my existing comms degree) as a way to get my marketing skills relevant again, and I figured I’d be able to land a job given I have previous marketing experience as well…but no bites.
    I’m finding myself coming home at night panicky, as I’ve been unhappy for a while and have found nothing…I feel like a failure. My boyfriend (a doctor) has gotten sick of my unhappiness, and keeps trying to get me to study a skill (be an engineer! be a doctor! You did better than me at school, why aren’t you in a skillful job, instead of something anyone can do!)
    Advice? :( I’m feeling especially down as I had planned to be out of this place by the end of the year.

    1. Kerri*

      I work in TV too, and can definitely attest to the word-of-mouthness of the industry. That said, even though you can’t officially apply to the publicity gig due to HR constraints, can you reach out to that department to see where they are in the process (and thereby make yourself known to them)? I assume at some point the job will be listed internally, so hopefully by the time you apply you’ll already have your foot in the door.

      1. jesicka309*

        The problem is that it won’t be advertised internally because they will be able to fill the position via word of mouth. They only advertise sales and traffic (I’m in traffic).
        HR rules state that direct approaches by managers for jobs are not allowed, so even if I managed to get my resume to the publicity and marketing people, they are not allowed to offer me anything.
        I’d love to go elsewhere, but short of going back to my old company (not happening according to my old boss) or going to the only other TV station who has been laying people off for the last year.
        And trying to change industries isn’t working either. :(

  32. Katie in Ed*

    While doing some data mining at work, I ran across a school website done completely in Comic Sans. I felt dirty copy and pasting email addresses from there, even if it didn’t save the formatting.

    1. Scott M*

      There is a hilarious monologue out on the web about this font. Just Google “I’m Comic Sans” to find it.

    2. EM*

      Yeah, the sign for the preschool at my son’s elementary school is in comic sans. I shudder every time I see it.

      I’ve read the monologue, and I just want to point out that its doubtful that comic sans knows that many “big words”. :)

  33. Rachel*

    Anyone have any tips for “making friends” at the office? I ask because this is a relatively small office (about 20 employees) and everyone always talks to everyone, and they seem extremely close. I’m a new employee, having been here about 4 months, and pretty much no one talks to me – and when I try to start a conversation, they usually say a sentence or two and then end it/walk off/go back to their computers. I’d say they were just busy, but a minute later they’ll be turning around to talk to someone else.
    …I guess it just feels a bit isolating.

    1. Job seeker*

      Just keep on trying. I had this happen to me at the last job I held. It took a little while but just keep on being nice. The longer you are there the more people will warm up to you. I went way out of my way to become friends with my co-workers. It took a little time, but it happened. Good luck. Oh, and be a very good listener.

    2. Elizabeth M*

      What happens at lunch time? It might be that everyone intends to stay focused on work, but gets tempted away from work by the people they’re closer to – and you’re not as much of a temptation because they don’t know you so well. Don’t take this personally! (In fact, it might be a good thing for productivity if your coworkers weren’t always chatting all day…) Try getting together with them during times when they aren’t supposed to be working, like going out for lunch or perhaps trying to get some people together to go out after work. When there’s not something else they have to be doing, there might be more room to forge connections.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Be consistent – day after day. This means with everything- friendliness, helpfulness. productivity, general work attitude etc.
      Be that same quality person day after day.
      Gradually, you will wear them down and they will come around. haha!
      The last job I had it was about a year and a half to get people to “include me” (lack of a better term). Generally, I would expect it to take much less time than this. The work environment was difficult so I understood why it took so long.
      You might consider trying to get one or two people to talk with you regularly- this can help break the ice for the others and make the process less daunting.
      Also, quit dwelling on the fact that they give you a sentence or two and shift your focus to the content of that sentence. See if there is something in the content of the sentence that you can expand on in some manner.

  34. FD*

    So, this is sort of a good quandary to have, but it’s still a quandary.

    I’m working in a hotel right now, and I actually really like it. We got a new manager a bit ago, who took over from a real character (think Alison’s ‘towel manager’). He’s done an awesome job, and seeing what a difference a good manager makes and what the work is like with someone competent has made me decide that I want to go into hotel management. So, here’s the question:

    My manager and I have talked a few times about where I’d like to go from here. He thinks that I’d be able to get a promotion in the spring, if I’m willing to relocate to another hotel in our company. He’s been helping me by giving me a chance to take on extra projects and letting me attend a few meetings.

    The thing is, I also really like some of the volunteer places I’m working right now. I’ve found one in particular that’s a really great fit. I don’t want to make a career out of it, but I love helping there. It’s not a national organization, so if I move, I won’t be able to work with it anymore.

    If I decide to stay here instead of relocating, I probably wouldn’t be able to get a promotion for at least a couple more years. I also need some things to fall together for it to be financially feasible to stay here (potentially trying to arrange a roommate situation). And one way or another, I have to decide what direction I want to take by January 20.

    Is it unwise of me to delay promotion for the sake of a volunteer organization I don’t plan to make into a career? And if I do stay, when should I talk to my manager about it?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      If you found one volunteer job that you like, I would think you would find another one at the new location. I volunteer for several groups and enjoy them all, thoroughly. Perhaps your group can recommend a group in the new area.

    2. Josh S*

      Not that volunteer gigs are interchangeable and easy to get involved in all the time, but there ARE volunteer gigs just about everywhere you’d be. Without knowing your situation and passions, I can’t make your decision, but from a career standpoint, it seems odd to forego professional progression for the sake of a volunteer job that you don’t intend to make into a career.

      I’d bet that even though your volunteer organization isn’t national, there’s probably something with a similar mission wherever you’d end up. Good luck!

  35. Elizabeth West*

    I hope everyone had a good Christmas. :)

    I got some money (thank goodness, since my unemployment ends this week because they stopped the extensions. :P Where the hell is MY 99 weeks!?), a candle that smells like the beach (since I can’t go, at least I can smell it), a silly umbrella with a window in it, some fancy cosmetic and soap stuff, and a gift card to Barnes & Noble (yay!). Today my mom got me a cover for my little car and we went to a cool used bookstore where I loaded up on Brian Keene and Robert J. Sawyer books. At least while I’m still looking for work, I’ll have something to read. And in a couple of weeks, school should start (prof. writing program), and I have my most recent book to edit.

    Hopefully I will get a decent job soon. And something else.

    1. Jamie*

      I am sending nothing but good thoughts for you on all fronts, Elizabeth.

      2013 will be your year, hope it starts soon. :)

    2. ChristineH*

      Pulling for you as well Elizabeth. I too have been looking for employment – here’s to 2013 being THE year!!!

      Good luck with the writing program!

  36. saro*

    I am re-vamping my CV for consulting gigs. Would it look weird if I titled my CV something like this: Name_Consultancy

    If that is odd, what should I title it so I know what it’s for?

    1. TL*

      I think it would probably look a little odd, and might give the impression that you’re looking at non-consultancy jobs, too. What works for me: make different file folders for each resume (e.g. “Jane’s Consultancy Resume”, “Jane’s Standard Resume”, etc.), but give the resume files the same generic name (“Jane Lastname”). This keeps the resumes clearly organized, but nobody else will be the wiser.

        1. saro*

          That’s a great idea and I did not think of that – thank you!
          I was afraid of it looking like I am looking for non-consultancy jobs, even though I am. :-)

  37. BCranston*

    Glad to see an open post opportunity as I have a question I was hoping some others may have some input on.

    I have mostly lurked on here, but posted two or three times. I am currently working in a job that started out promising 2.5 years ago, but with 4 re-orgs, senior leadership leaving, and new head of the department changing every 10 months, the job has been reduced to something far below my skill level. There is no path for promotion in my current role (highly visible functional role) and I had a terrible manager for most of my tenure who I did not feel comfortable discussing what I wanted to pursue career wise, partly because I wasn’t sure myself what I wanted to do, partly because he was an unapproachable micromanager I felt uncomfortable around, and finally because he was not in a position to help me ( but happily shot down any other opportunities for growth I was approached with by senior executives).

    I only stuck it out as long as I did because of some family issues, but now I am ready to move on, to a position with better pay and more responsibility, doing work I enjoy and not just a glorified PowerPoint admin. There is no secret that I want to move to the UK, and I work for a company with substantial ops and brand recognition there. However, I don’t think I really want to stay with the company any more. Staying in my current role, where I have at least switched bosses but the work is still mundane, is not much of an option beyond March. It is already hard enough to push myself through the week and I come home crying out of frustration at least twice a week. Finally, we don’t want to stay in our current city and always planned to move overseas when the issue was resolved.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for the best way to approach an overseas job hunt? I don’t need an employer sponsored work visa, but there is still an issue of relocation and distance, especially with getting through applicant tracking systems. Does anyone know of handy tools that would help? Would quitting and moving to find a job be justified in this situation? I have saved the money to do so and have friends I can stay with while I get my feet on the ground, etc.

    My new boss is far more approachable and we have a more open relationship so I do intend to set up some time in the next two weeks to discuss any potential options internally and to get a good lay of the land. I suppose I am at a point though where I expect nothing to happen.

    1. saro*

      Well, if your new boss is a nicer person, could you discuss this with her?

      Also, to help you make a decision, why don’t you look at the jobs advertised in the area you’re interested in or speak to a headhunter?

  38. Waiting Patiently*

    My question is about jobs that require examination and finding out when certain exams are given. I check this one site daily for open exams and jobs. Often I see jobs I could apply for except Im not on the exam list nor is the exam offered before the closing date. The next problem is if/when said exam is offered, it’s for employees only. Should I inquire about when these particular exams are offered to the public? Would I even get answer outside of check back often?

    1. Cassie*

      I think this is common for the county government where I live. This is because there is a hiring freeze due to budget cuts, so they don’t have open exams. But there are still openings (with people retiring or resigning, etc) that need to be filled so they hire people from “the list” (people who took the exam the last time it was offered).

      It’s a bit tricky because I doubt even the people in HR know when the exams will be held again. You could try calling, but my guess is that they’ll just suggest you check often. If there are other positions or exams that are open, you might want to try for those in the meantime. It’s not uncommon (at least in our county gov’t) for people to get promoted or move to higher positions – so people do get hired in clerical positions and then move on to more specialized positions (like accounting).

  39. Josh S*

    I’m realizing more and more that I’m just kind of lousy at networking. I just am bad at keeping in touch with people with whom I’ve worked professionally. I do the job, and when I move on I move on. I’m bad at ‘keeping in touch’ for the sake of networking. The only time I really think about it is when I’m job hunting, at which point it feels too late to establish relevant relationships, since it will be seen as too opportunistic (or soemthing, in my brain anyway)

    This is obviously a detriment to job hunting.

    Anyone have tips for how I can motivate myself to be better at networking? Especially without coming across as overly self-interested/opportunistic? Any sort of “checklist” thing that I might do daily/weekly/monthly to help myself set good measurable goals for such a thing?

    1. saro*

      Do you have a LinkedIn page? I have that and generally try to help out people who contact me, it’s been enough for me so far.

      1. Josh S*

        I do, though I’m kind of hesitant to get really involved there. I have a hard time thinking of it as anything but another form of social media, and I tend to be really guarded/reserved on social media when my real name is attached.

        Thoughts on using LinkedIn to network? Just blindly reach out to people at my target companies (ugh!), post interesting content I find that’s relevant to job hunting?

        1. saro*

          No, but I am much more open to accepting and ‘be-friending’ people on LinkedIn.

          Here’s what I did during a previous job that was helpful:
          I applied for a position at an organization, did a search on LinkedIn (make sure your settings are on ‘anonymous’), and saw that I was connected to a person at that organization through my previous supervisor. I sent my previous supervisor an email and asked him to put in a good word for me. He did.

          I am sure other people do other things but so far, that’s been the most helpful for me.

        2. Rana*

          Treating it as social media is not a bad idea, though, since at least part of the value of networking is, indeed, the social aspect of it.

          That said, there’s no reason for you to be overly personal in your interactions there, especially if you’re on a forum focused on a particular field or area of interest. I have a “professional persona” that I use when I’m posting in areas where I anticipate either clients or colleagues reading my posts, and if you keep that in mind, it’s generally pretty safe to post under your real name.

          So while I may post silly cat photos or bad jokes in my Facebook feed, or strange things I found on the internet on my Tumblr, my posts on Twitter and LinkedIn and my public Facebook page tend to be much more focused on things that I think my clients would like to see (or that I think wouldn’t scare them off). But I’ve been doing this sort of persona-juggling for over ten years now (when I started a pseudonymous blog) so I can appreciate that it’s not so intuitive or easy at first. A post-it with “topics to not discuss online” stuck near your monitor can help until it becomes more second-nature.

          1. JT*

            Just to be pedantic – LinkedIn *is* social media. Just not social media for “fun” like Facebook.

            The term social media is even used for some forms of media used inside businesses such as like Yammer (imagine a company-wide Facebook system, where you can connect to people as colleagues and share info on what you are working on) or internal blogs. “Social” for business is a huge area of interest right now.

    2. Rana*

      You might set up Google calendar or (if you have Mac) use a program like Cultured Code’s “Things” to program in repeated tasks like “send update email to three contacts this month” – or get yourself on a few career-related list-servs and try to make a point of responding to at least one comment a month or so.

      It gets easier with practice, so the main thing is just getting yourself into the pool so that your contacts start seeming more like friends and colleagues and not just network lists.

    3. ABC*

      I have absolutely the same problem. I befriend them on LinkedIn, and then? Am at a loss on how to ‘use’ them?
      I am currently job-hunting – do I send them a message asking for leads or do I ask for help for a job where specifically they can help?
      Any thought?

      1. Wilton Businessman*

        There are a ton of articles on how to use Linkedin more effectively. Use keywords such as “effective linkedin job search” or “ineffective linkedin” to see what you might be doing wrong.

        Again, this is about cultivating your network. You can’t always be the one asking for something. Have you read an article that is interesting, post a link to it. Heard about a job that maybe you’re not a good fit for but sounded like an interesting opportunity? Pass it along to someone else. Linkedin is about giving as much as you’re getting (IMHO, at least). Sure, there are a ton of recruiters on there and they might find you that way, but they’ll find you on Monster or Dice anyway.

  40. ChristineH*

    I hope it’s not too late to post in this thread as I thought of another question (unrelated to yesterday’s questions).

    Over the summer, I gave my resume to a manager at my professional association, who volunteered to pass it along to some of her contacts, but did not specify who. Would it have been in bad form to ask who she sent it to? In this type of networking situation, is it normal to not tell the person who you’re going to share a resume with?

    FTR: Nothing came out of this, unfortunately, but I want to make sure I do things right for future reference. And yes, I did follow up and let her know that nothing happened (but thanked her for her efforts).

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      You’ve already followed up once. If you wanted specifics, that would have been the time to ask. Although that seems a little pushy.

      1. fposte*

        I think you might be able to ask at the time–“Are there places I would be applying to that might have already gotten this resume, and should I acknowledge that?” (which presumably is Christine’s underlying question), and you can probably ask broadly, “Are there particular organizations you think I might be a good fit with? Can you recommend anything I might do to make myself a stronger candidate there?”

        But not now–either they saw your resume or they didn’t.

        1. ChristineH*

          fposte – That wasn’t quite my underlying question, but I do appreciate the suggested scripts :)

          Actually, my question is more this: Say I found a really awesome job to apply for; would it screw things up if I send in my resume and it turns out that my colleague had already passed along my resume back in September to that organization? I realize that this might not be an issue in larger organizations (e.g. a university or large nonprofit), but for smaller agencies, I didn’t want to be that clueless candidate who unwittingly applies to a place twice in less than 3 months.

          I hope that makes more sense.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I wouldn’t think it would be a problem. Keep in mind that you didn’t really “apply” the first time — your contact passed along your resume. It’s not really double-applying if you then apply directly.

    2. Lily*

      I was asked for a recommendation this summer and recommended someone. I got this very elaborate Christmas card from her for the first time, which makes me guess that she got the job? It would have been nice to get an update.

  41. Anonymous*

    How do you fix your mind that constantly thinks that you’re not good enough to get a job in this economy?

    I was given the names of two different staffing agencies for paralegal workers and I’m very interested in them since it’s what I want to do as a career, but I’m at a major mental block, mostly due to not doing anything extraordinary at my jobs. I’ve just gone and done the jobs and got references out of there, but a lot of insecurities keep popping up in my mind telling me that I’m not good enough to get a job or that my references will be lukewarm instead of glowing, etc.

    I want to get over this mental block that I have and put myself out there in the job market, but it’s been hard to do. Do any of you have tips or tricks or things you did to help you get over your insecurities during job searching?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      For me this has been the “easiest” time in my life to be “low” on work. I can tell myself that even the big hot shots are out of work now.
      But overall, I try to take in less news. It’s all bad, check tomorrow it will be worse. So I try not to take into much bad news. I watch what I read. If you cannot find some uplifting material- try to find some self-help material. How about an autobiography of someone you really admire?
      Then run down the list of exercise, water, veggies.
      Write out some affirmations- tape them to the bathroom mirror. Read it out loud every morning: “I deserve to have a decent job.” And “My good job is out there waiting for me”, etc.

      We would never put soda in our car’s tank and expect the car to work well no matter what. Same deal with our body and minds.

    2. Lily*

      I’m sorry that insecurity is making it hard for you to continue searching, because I think some insecurity is a good thing on the job. Too much self confidence makes it difficult to adapt to new ways of doing things, and listen to feedback.

  42. Paige*

    Working on my self-evaluation and I just have to vent: it’s too detailed. We are supposed to rank ourselves in 9 areas on a scale from 2 to 5 with divisions such that 5 is outstanding, but both 4.5 and 4.0 mean “Exceeds expectations”, 3.5 and 3.o are both Meets, and 2.5 and 2.0 are both Below. There is no 1.5 or 1. We also need to write a paragraph for each rank we give to justify it.

    So if I think I exceed expectations in an area, should I always pick 4.5 and not 4.0? I don’t want to come across as either too modest or too bragging.

    Also, it has a really aggressive language check. For example, “senior-level position” is flagged for “age discrimination”, while “develop templates and job aids” is flagged for “weight and medical condition discrimination”. Sheesh.

    1. EM*

      Ugh. That sounds really onerous. Do the results of your self eval mean anything? If they don’t have any bearing on what happens to you, I’d put in the bare minimum of effort to fill it out. Yeah, easier said than done.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ridiculous! It reminds me of the time a board member told me that we shouldn’t describe the organization as “fast-paced” because it would discriminate against disabled people who couldn’t move quickly. I pointedly ignored her.

  43. Chaucer*

    My father pulled me aside yesterday and suggested that I take a week off of job searching. He noticed that on Christmas day that I just looked burned out and frustrated. On one hand, taking a week off might make sense considering that most companies aren’t going to probably resume to hiring until the new year and the time off will help recharge my batteries, but on the other hand I hate working retail and it makes me antsy to get out as soon as I can.

    Today I slept in, and spent my morning and day off on the couch reading. It felt good to take a break from waking up at 5 in the morning to go to the gym and then job search before heading to work for whatever shift I am working that day.

  44. Cassie*

    I’m not sure if I should start looking for a new job – my boss’s name has been mentioned for top management positions at a couple of other institutions (nothing’s been mentioned publicly but I have my sources). If he leaves, I’m out of a job. I think I have strong enough skills and employment history to find another job within our institution but I wouldn’t be opposed to finding a job closer to where I live. (The commute is less than ideal). Several years ago, I was in a similar position when my then-boss left – luckily, a former supervisor hired me to work with her. The situation kind of sucks, but that is the nature of my position.

    Anyway, I found a couple of openings at a university closer to my home – I meet the qualifications, the tasks are very similar to what I do now and the salary range is comparable. I’m not sure if I should go ahead and apply, though. If my boss stays, I’d like to stay in my current job. He may retire, but that’s at least several years away. But if he leaves, it may be within a year (depending on those other institutions).

    Should I wait until I am certain my boss is leaving? Or at least until a job is offered to him. It’s just that I’m not sure if I should pass up these postings. One is in the same dept as I am currently in, and the other is in the dept that I majored in (just at a different university) so maybe I’m trying to look for some divine or spiritual sign that I’m supposed to do this or that, and not thinking logically…

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d start by talking to your boss and getting his advice … but meanwhile, there’s no harm in starting to look; you don’t need to take a job if offered, but you’ll have started the ball rolling.

  45. Natalie*

    Dang, I probably missed most of the action but this issue just came up and it’s perfect for this thread. (Also, I’m sort of pissed about it so I’d like to type it all out.)

    In my office we have 6 office employees and 5 field employees that work at various sites around the city. The field employees are blue collar workers so the previous managers saw no benefit to getting them regular access to the corporate network (intranet, email, etc). They are used to sending anything that needs to go to corporate through our office.

    One the field employees, J, just came in and asked me to send an address change to our HR office for her. Apparently she moved in SEPTEMBER and her change of address hasn’t been processed. Thankfully she gets her regular paycheck direct deposited, but her OT checks have been coming late and there’s probably other things she’s missed.

    J gave the original COA to her boss, B, and has been doing all following up to him and never directly to HR. B is stunningly incompetent so it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out that our HR department never received the form and B hasn’t actually been trying to solve the problem at all.

    I’ve helped J in the immediate term by emailing the form to our HR department. However, in the course of our conversation, J mentioned that B has told all of the field staff that they can’t contact HR directly and have to go through him. I find this directive troubling. I’ve suggested to J that she talk to the other boss, M, (better manager, outranks B) but J had a very bad experience with the previous M so I doubt she will take my suggestion. So I’m debating whether or not I should mention this to M myself.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Telling employees that they can’t contact a person or department who the company thinks they should be able to contact is a huge red flag. I’d absolutely address that — either by mentioning it to M yourself or by mentioning it to HR. Or both. It’s a huge problem if it’s not addressed — what if someone feels sexually harassed by B but has been told they can’t contact HR so can’t report it? Or any number of other issues. Tell M and HR! All you have to say is, “I don’t know the whole story here, but what I heard was alarming, so I’m passing it on to you in case there’s a problem here.”

  46. Anonymous*

    Is there an OSHA standard regarding workplace temperature? I tried researching it on my own, but I couldn’t find it.

    I work in a store which is supposed to be cold to begin with; however, it still has a heating system which makes it bearable. The heating system has been broken now for a few weeks, and it is too cold. I come home with chilled hands and it takes me hours to warm up again. It’s the kind of cold that goes through you over the shift. So I was wondering if there is a time frame for which this repair has to be made or is there no statue on workplace temperature.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I looked this up for a different post a while back. They don’t require that employers maintain a particular temperature, but they recommend 68-76 degrees. According to a 2003 OSHA interpretation letter, “office temperature and humidity conditions are generally a matter of human comfort rather than hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm. OSHA cannot cite the General Duty Clause for personal discomfort.”

      1. Anonymous*

        Thank you for responding.

        It is very uncomfortable there, and many people are complaining, including the customers. I do not tolerate the cold very well. While I don’t have an exact temperature reading, I can tell you that it is below 68F. It’s probably in the low 60s or maybe in the 50s. I’m glad you were able to answer my question. Thank you!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Do you bring a thermometer to work? In one place I worked we actually did this. It was 45 degrees in our department.
      If I worked 6 or more days straight – some nights I would come home and sit and cry because I just could not get warmed up.
      Did I mention? We were not allowed to wear sweaters.

  47. Mints*

    I hope people are still reading this post! I have a question about argumentativeness during a phone screen.

    I had a phone interview in which the interviewer asked me about my favorite class at college and I said my usual answer: Professor X in public policy was interesting because he had more real world experience than other other professors since he worked for a previous president. She asked for an example so I said something about how he could talk about minimum wage and then say how he petitioned the president to raise it himself. I forgot exactly how it went but she asked me to explain the benefits, and then she replied negatively. So I tried to concede and say yes that’s the usual counter argument. She asked me again to explain the benefits. This happened maybe twice and I started feel really uncomfortable. I admitted my point of view but tried to keep it somewhat neutral.
    It got kind of bad, I said something about how the economy always improves in the long run, and she said “Do you think that’s really true, considering unemployment now?” (paraphrasing). I tried to end it with “Well the minimum wage hasn’t changed for several years” Finally she said “Fair enough” and changed the subject.

    I tried really hard not to get into a debate, should I do anything differently in the future?
    I should pretend this never happened if it moves forward, right?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sometimes people have pet issues that they can’t resist challenging someone on when they disagree with what they’re saying. Unless the job is working on economic issues, I wouldn’t worry about the fact that the two of you disagree on this. It’s also possible that she wanted to see how you’d defend your viewpoint when challenged (would you back down immediately? get flustered? etc.).

      It sounds like you handled it fine — and yes, no need to bring it up again if things move forward!

  48. HV*

    Fantastic thread, exactly what I need. I have a question I would appreciate some input on. I am a recent graduate, and if I am lucky, I might be looking at two or three different job offers in January. Without getting my hopes up too much, I am trying to prioritise the jobs in question so that if an offer should arise, I would know whether to take it straight away, or ask another company for a quicker process. These jobs are all very different, and with little experience I find it hard to narrow down what things are most important to me in a job. So reall, my question is, upon reflection of your careers, what have been the most important factors to be happy in your job(s). Also, any reflections regarding differences between working for a big company vs small company would be much appreciated. Thank you all for reading/replying to my question.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You want a really good manager. You can have everything else (interesting work, good pay, good culture, coworkers you like, easy commute), but if your manager sucks, the rest of it won’t matter.

    2. Josh S*

      I’d say the most important factors to make a “good job” are the following:
      -You find meaning in the work itself/you find the work to be meaningful. It can be hard to judge this if you’re just starting out in the working world. It doesn’t need to be “the thing you love most”, “if you had a million dollars, what would you do with your time”, or anything else so cliche. And there’s nothing wrong with taking a job because it’s a paycheck. But if you can say at the end of the day, “I know that I contributed in a meaningful way to a purpose that I think is important”–you’ll have found a good job.
      -You work for a good manager. Someone who gives clear direction for your job, supports you so you can get that job done, helps your career progress (challenges you to do more/better work), connects your job duties to the ‘big picture’ of the department/company, who recognizes your accomplishments, etc.

      If you have these two things, you’re ahead of (at least) 75% of other people out there.

      If you can add a place that gives you the space to pursue your passions in your free time, it’s that much better. That could be a job that is a strict 8 hour day so you can have time at home in the evenings. It could be a flexible schedule. Or it could be a place that respects your passion and finds a way to incorporate it (though this is unlikely).

      Now for your big vs small question:
      A big company is more likely to have more opportunities to advance, as there is more likelihood of vacancies that you can be promoted to. In contrast, a smaller company is more likely to give you the opportunity to learn/take on multiple job tasks. Many times you can have a bigger impact at a smaller company by coming up with a good idea (that you might get to take over). Big companies may have more bureaucracy to maneuver, and more formal structures in place. Small companies may be more nimble and entrepreneurial in style–willing to bend ‘rules’ (or have fewer rules in the first place) if it makes sense for a given situation.

      Whether you will do better in a big company or a small company is likely to be a matter of your personality. If you like to have structure and direction and well-defined assignments, you may do better at a big company. If you like to set your own schedule, you may prefer a small company.

      But here’s the thing–none of these guidelines are hard and fast rules. A big company can be nimble; a small company can be unduly bureaucratic. You really REALLY MUST ask questions to figure out the company/department/team culture while you’re interviewing so that you can determine if it will be a good fit for you. If you’re lucky enough to have options, your happiness in your job will likely depend on your ability to figure that out.

      As I said above in this thread, it’s like picking which frat/sorority to apply to. If you’re an academic, you’ll be miserable at the party frat. If you’d rather go for drinks on Thursday night, you’re gonna be miserable in the academic sorority. Figure out the culture and what sort of people/climate you want to be around, and you’ll be able to determine whether Company A or Company B is going to be a better fit.

      1. HV*

        Thanks Alison and Josh S for your answers. I am trying to write down and reflect upon the impressions I got at the interviews using your comments. At the end of the day, I will feel very lucky if I get a/several job offer(s), so although it would be a very hard and important decision, I would also consider myself privileged to be in that situation.

  49. Anonymous*

    I don’t know if people are even checking this anymore, but just in case, I was thinking about this last night and I’m curious about the rules for combining jobs on a resume.

    My girlfriend is applying to new jobs and I want to help make sure her resume is in top shape. She has had a series of positions that are basically exactly the same (home health aide) but at a few different agencies as well as privately through families. There has been a bit of an overlap between some as well as a gap or two. Note that she’s in a place where it’s not uncommon for people to commute to different towns for work so the different towns within the same state wouldn’t imply moving, and she only switched agencies when her hours got low due to clients going into the hospital or elderly clients dying, etc. (I don’t think it’s uncommon for HHAs to be with more than one agency anyway). But since she’s applying to non-HHA jobs now I’m worried this will look like a loooot of different jobs in a short period of time.

    So right now her resume looks kinda like (I’m going from memory):

    September 2012 – Present
    Home Health Aide
    HHA Agency #1, Small Town, MA
    * Responsibilities/accomplishments.

    July – September 2012
    Home Health Aide
    HHA Agency #2, Big City, MA
    * Responsibilities/accomplishments.

    May – September 2012
    Home Health Aide
    HHA Agency #3, Big City, MA
    * Responsibilities/accomplishments.

    March 2012 – May 2012
    Street Team for Activist Org
    Activist Org, Big City, MA
    * Responsibilities/accomplishments.

    July 2011 – March 2012
    Home Health Aide
    HHA Agency #1, Small Town, MA
    * Responsibilities/accomplishments.

    February 2011 – July 2011
    Restaurant Job
    Small Town, TX
    * Responsibilities/accomplishments.

    August 2009 – August 2010
    Home Health Aide
    HHA Agency #1, Small Town, MA
    * Responsibilities/accomplishments.

    January 2010 – August 2010
    Home Health Aide
    Private Employer, Small Town, MA
    * Responsibilities/accomplishments.

    (Before that it’s a retail job or two in MA and before that is college.)

    I feel like maybe some of these should be combined, but I’m not sure how to do that. Any suggestions?

  50. Amouse*

    I am posting this here to this lovely and knowledgeable community in the hopes that someone can give me advice.

    I am in the process of applying to university as a transfer student. I’m 29 but not considered a mature student by this university because I took a year of university at another institution. The university is close to where I am from and will be moving back to if I am accepted, however it is over 2000km away from my home right now. My question is this: Does anyone who has been involved with music auditions for universities know if it seriously harms your chances of acceptance to audition via CD due to travel costs and distance? Is it worth the trip regardless of cost? I have looked everywhere online for specific, helpful advice online and it is limited. The university site is hardly going to say: “It will hurt your chances if you audition via CD,” Pretty much all university music programs offer this option so I also think, why would they offer it if they weren’t going to seriously consider those applicants?

    If memory serves a few regular commenters are in academia and I would really, really appreciate help from anyone reading who might be able to give me some feedback.

    Thanks so much!
    Amouse (Heather)

  51. Creeped out*

    I share an open office space with 2 guys. When I came back from FMLA in September, I discovered the one picked up a new habit. Watching porn while I was working 5 ft away from him. Long story short, he scrubs everything everyday and IT had never been able to catch him so the sexual harassment is without proof. My boss’s solution: everyone’s desk now faces the wall and we have a new firewall.

    Said coworker is cordial to everyone, except now when we are alone together in the office, he rubs his thighs and grunts and adjusts himself and I catch him blatantly staring at me throughout the day. It’s unnerving. I have not spoken with the boss about the new behavior because I don’t want to sound paranoid. Any advice?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I actually have this one in my email queue to answer later this week or next — so sit tight! (I’m assuming you’re the same person who emailed this to me this weekend.)

      1. Amouse*

        haha, no that wasn’t me but that’s awesome! If this similar question is getting answered, that’s amazing :-)

          1. Amouse*

            ah sorry! I hadn’t refreshed the thread so it looked like you had replied to my question :-)

      2. Creeped out*

        I apologize for my impatience. Just having a hard time dealing with all of this. My husband is telling me to just ignore him, but its hard to do. Also when thi first came up and they coul not prove that pornagraphy had been viewed on this computer, HR spent a few minutes trying to tell me that I must not have seen what I thought I saw, and that these were serious allegations and not to be just thrown around. It was also suggested that user a counselor sin I am an emotional/hormonal new mom according to my HR lady!

        1. Same place*

          I can’t believe the HR lady pulled the ‘hormonal new mom’ card….what a witch! Go directly to your boss.

          I was in a similar situation and after a semi-private breakdown following a year of sexual harassment, I called the guy on it and then went to my boss. Don’t let it get to the point where you can’t work – I literally broke down in tears and had to remove myself from the office for 1/2 hour to regain composure to finish the day, it was probably also my least efficient day on the job. I spoke to my boss about the situation, handed him a list of detailed incidents with dates I could remember (I had a full page of many incidents). My boss at the time, to his credit, is an outstanding and very caring person both professionally and personally. He handled it with the utmost composure and professionalism and from that point on there was no issue and the office I worked in backed me 100%.

          Go to your boss and start keeping a list – paper trails often help.

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