open thread

tumblr_inline_mgs5k7YkOd1rah207It’s our monthly open thread!

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

If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

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{ 536 comments… read them below }

  1. Anne*

    I’ve just agreed to talk a little bit at an event for current students of my college. (I graduated a couple years ago, have a good job and still live in the same city, so…)

    I have very little idea what to say, other than “Don’t take crappy career advice telling you to make yourself stand out, and don’t say you have extensive experience in anything. You don’t.”

    What would be helpful?…

    1. Anonymously*

      One thing I wish I learned at that time was that the interview process goes both ways. That’s a good thing to mention.

    2. Jubilance*

      I do a similar type event at my alma mater each semester – I sit on a panel with other alumni that’s hosted by the engineering college. Generally they have questions, either the moderator or the students. I still with an abbreviated introduction of my background (graduated, quick rundown of positions I’ve held & what I’m doing now). From that, I try to tell students the truth – I think about the things I would have wanted to know when I was in their shoes, the things that sprant up in my career that made me say “I wish I had known that earlier”.

    3. CH*

      I would mention that the best job for you might just be one you haven’t even imagined yet, so keep an open mind.

      1. Anne*

        Yeah – I’m a philosophy ground working at a tech company and training in Accountancy, so that is definitely going to be a big part of what I say. :)

    4. mary*

      When you were finishing school and starting your job hunt, there were probably things you know now that you would have like to have known then. Definitely tell them about

    5. Joey*

      I’d talk about:
      1. being open to entry level jobs that can give them good experience but don’t pay a lot.
      2. The importance of learning business norms
      3. The importance of integrity
      4. Learning as much as they can from the good AND the bad managers and co workers.
      5. Understanding that solving problems in school is a whole lot different than solving problems in the real world.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I did this not all that long ago & I want to not only echo Joey’s comments, but expand on the importance of the business norms concept. Spend time talking to them about what those norms are for your industry and how they can do long term damage to their reputations by ignoring or flaunting them.

        As interns they can sometimes get slack because they’re still in college – that slack tends to disappear quickly when they’re recent graduates.

    6. COT*

      I mentor students at my alma mater. Some of the things we usually talk about:
      How to evaluate company culture and find a good fit
      Basic budgeting
      Benefits 101: health insurance, 401(k), etc.
      How to use college to really prepare yourself for the working world (are there campus programs/opportunities you really valued?)
      Working effectively with a boss

    7. littlemoose*

      I’d also mention the importance of explaining resume gaps when possible. For example, I worked retail for a year and a half after graduating from law school because I couldn’t find a lawyer job. I was not listing that work on my résumé because I thought it was unrelated, but in hindsight I realize that was a huge mistake. Help these new grads avoid this pitfall. Also, everyone else has listed great suggestions above. Hope you enjoy the talk!

      1. Katy*

        I couldn’t agree more…I am astounded at the new hires who:
        1. arrive late;
        2. begin packing up 15 minutes before they should leave by putting on their boots, shutting down their PC, locking their cabinets – which makes them completely unavailable until their assigned quitting time;
        3. wear ear buds so they can listen to their ‘own’ music – which causes them to be unable to respond to questions in person, or hear the phone – the very reason their supposed to be there;
        4. take lunch time to work out or shop, then return to their desk, supposedly ready to ‘work’, while eating their foul-smelling lunch (hard boiled eggs in a salad) and checking their Facebook on their personal iPhone for the next hour, effectively taking a 2 hour lunch;
        5. complain about how busy they are, incessantly;
        6. abuse the open concept by being over-loud on the phone, discussing their weekend plans with co-workers who visit with them at their desk;
        7. claim they ‘never’ take a break – when we’d actually welcome it as a time for them to tend to their personal matters and conversations;
        8. create urgencies in their work projects by ignoring timelines, and wasting work time on personal stuff – then whine when everyone doesn’t step up to rescue them;
        9. generally feel that the employer owes them; not that an employment agreement is exactly that: you give the employer a FULL day’s effort – they give you a full day’s pay.

        Is anyone else experiencing this? And why aren’t the Supervisors picking up on it? Eating at a workstation is unprofessional – if your mouth is crammed with food, you can’t be understood on the phone, and you reflect badly on the company in person. Take a break for your personal stuff and lunch, apart from a shared workspace…and do us all a favour.

        And…if anyone has an idea how to raise these issues so someone addresses it, without being a “shoot the messenger” casualty, I’d appreciate it.

        1. Joey*

          I don’t mean to offend, but that sounds like the bigger problem is the hiring manager and whomever is managing these folks.

          And eating while you work isn’t necessarily bad. Sure in some lines of work it is, but I know tons of highly productive people who wouldn’t be able to eat if they didn’t eat at their desk.

          1. Stephanie*

            Also, not everyone has a dedicated break room! At my current job, it’s eat at your desk or eat outside the office (or in an empty conference room).

            I don’t see the issue with working out or shopping over lunch. If they’re taking three hours to do this, then yes, but if they’re back at their desk within the hour, seems like this should be fine.

          2. Anonicorn*

            It seems like Katy might be in a call center environment, where I could see how that kind of stuff would be annoying.

            But in many other jobs, depending on the culture, an employer wouldn’t even notice or care about some of the things listed.

            1. Peaches*

              I agree with the other people above here. In my office, we almost all eat at our desks (we have a break room, but it’s tiny and it’s -40 outside). Facebook and long, loud personal calls should be off limits or severely limited, but eating at your desk (so long as the food isn’t too messy or stinky) is actually the norm in many places and many fields.

    8. Mints*

      Try to be generally reassuring, please. I attended one of these, and all the younger grads seemed like they had amazing jobs immediately, and I felt awful because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get those jobs so soon. The older grads were all dismissive of the first few years of work, which made me feel better. (Except in the general way, of learning biz norms, like Joey says, and figuring out what fields they like)

    9. N*

      The best advice I got from my professor was to think about where you want to be ten years from now. The next step would be to break it down and think about how to get there. This really helped me think about where I needed to start.

    10. Kate*

      The best advice I got as a soon-to-be-grad was that I wasn’t going to be the most qualified person applying for any job… and that that was ok. I couldn’t compete against many applicants on years of work experience, but I could sell employers on my ability to learn processes and programs quickly, my enthusiasm, and my work ethic.

      This turned out to be useful advice, as well as reassuring. The first job I had requested 1-2 years of full-time work experience. I had 0 years (though several internships), and was hired because I seemed trainable and passionate about the field.

    11. Victoria Nonprofit*

      I’d encourage them to think about what kinds of things like they to do (write, meet with people, organize processes, etc.) and use that to frame their thinking about work. Too often, I think we get distracted by the industry or issue area we think we want to work in, when in fact the actual day-to-day stuff you do contributes at least as much to your enjoyment of your job.

    12. Editor*

      Do mention, after the other stuff people have listed, that after someone learns a job, part of the key to advancement is not doing the job competently and meeting expectations. It’s exceeding expectations or having measurable achievements.

      I know I’m having trouble job hunting because my company was downsizing my office, so I was holding everything together but not doing anything extra (I was doing the work of other people, but often at an average level). So I have no new skills to point to, no awards, and an anemic resume.

      1. Amanda*

        Yes! I agree completely. I didn’t take enough initiative in my internships and one directly out of college job not out of laziness but because I simply didn’t know how to. I didn’t realize what it meant to be an “excellent” employee, as opposed to a “good” employee. I eventually learned and while I didn’t burn any bridges-my earlier supervisors liked me and give me good references-they are probably not motivated to really stick their neck out for me to recommend me for a job.

    1. Anna*

      I guess those of us who don’t like (American) football will be watching the Goat Bowl on cable this year! :-)

  2. SCW*

    Are those your kids Alison?
    Anne–talk to them about getting work experience while they are in school, about networking, and about keeping their minds open to all career paths.

    My question is this: I just got a promotion (yay!) to manager, and there are a number of changes I want to make, but I don’t want to rush in or overwhelm the staff with changes. Any ideas on presenting changes gradually, and not overwhelming staff with changes?

    1. anon o*

      Maybe invite feedback from the staff? They probably have similar ideas to yours, it would also help to give you an idea of what they want to change so you can prioritize.

    2. LT*

      Check out the book “The First 90 Days.” I started a job a while ago where I had a similar situation, and I found it helpful to involve the staff in the changes I wanted to make rather than just making them automatically. So for example, I would solicit ideas for changes, things that could be done better, and I actually got some really good ideas that I was able to implement easily because the team was all behind them already. As far as changes that I just wanted to make, I found it useful to plan carefully how I was going to present the changes (as in, here’s what’s in it for you) to the staff, so that they would know I had their best interests at heart and wasn’t just changing things for the sake of changing them.

    3. Joey*

      1. Make sure you understand fully the current practice.
      2. Bounce your ideas off of your staff, ask for their feedback and recommendations.
      3. Tell you boss your plan.
      4. Get feedback from any other groups that would be affected by the changes you want to make.
      5. Finalize your plan, get your bosses okay and move forward.

      1. SCW*

        Thanks! these are awesome ideas! I have the book on hold now at the library.
        I’ve actually been here for almost a month, I just was recently moved from acting to permanent. When my boss offered me the job, we talked about some of the changes I have in mind, so she is on board with them.

        Right now, I’ve been making goals for the team, and I think I will elicit assistance in ideas for how we can accomplish them.

        I’ve also asked my direct reports to meet with me to discuss their goals and tell me about their specific tasks in our team.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This will be good for me, even though I’m not a manager; my position is a new one and they need to implement some changes and incorporate my assistance into the routine. I will have to take on tasks that people are doing themselves and at least one of them admitted it will be hard to let go. I’ll make a note of these recommendations.

  3. Frances*

    I am developing something of a pet peeve about people sending me gCal invites to meetings (my employer switched our email to Google about a year ago so now everyone has gCal). I really like to be able to put meetings on my own calendar with my own set of notes and, occasionally adjusted times (for example, if I know I have to travel offsite for a meeting, I like to include the travel time in my busy period). Has anyone had any luck with telling people “I’m coming to this meeting and it’s on my calendar, please don’t send me an invite?” Or is this just a change in my work culture I’m going to have to get used to?

    1. Victoria Nonprofit*

      I vote for a change in work culture you’ll have to get used to. It would be really hard for me (and my org) if people didn’t use the shared meeting scheduler (or whatever you call it). If the meeting is rescheduled, the location is changed, etc., the shared function lets the organizer alert everyone at once. It would be a big hassle to have to track everyone down individually. (We actually just had this happen – a dinner was moved to a different restaurant. The guy who didn’t use the calendar went to the wrong restaurant and didn’t know what was going on.)

      1. Frances*

        I see your point. I think part of my issue is right at the moment, people are sending both emails AND invites because they know some people don’t look at their calendars so it’s all this redundant information floating around.

        1. Nikki*

          Take a deep breath and just delete the emails. I get a lot of emails that I just delete, they have nothing to do with me (not too much redundancy, but even then I’d just delete the darn thing). You will get use to it soon enough and deleting them will be less of an annoyance.

          1. Anonymous*

            Small nitpick: seeing as this company is using Gmail for their email – and therefore has virtually unlimited storage – I’d recommend just filing the message away rather than deleting it. It’s all too easy to be a little too trigger happy on the delete button sometimes, and you never know when you might need a piece of information.

    2. Amanda*

      What Victoria said. Sometimes this is just part of the culture and it makes it easier for everyone else, so you’ll have to develop workarounds. Plus, when I’ve been in organizations that have used calendaring software extensively, those invite lists are an important public document as well as a way to check attendance in meetings – “is so and so coming? let’s check the invite list!”

      To that end – there’s nothing stopping you from blocking the time on your own calendar for travelling, for example, or adding your own notes to a separate calendar appointment/document that’s private.

      If it drives you nuts that people are calendaring you for meetings without giving you a call first, you can speak up about that, but otherwise just get used to it.

    3. KayDay*

      I also think your going to just have to get used to it. Every place I have worked has had a slightly different calendar system (and my current job also switched to Gmail while I worked here, so we’ve had 2 systems) and you can’t expect everyone else to change to your preferences.

      However, if there is ever a discussion about the best way to use your system, that would be a good time to bring up your concern. But don’t expect people to do something differently just for you; it would have to be an organization-wide change.

    4. LT*

      With GCal you can have multiple calendars visible at once – perhaps you could set up a separate calendar that you can use to keep your own notes, etc. – that way your calendar that’s tied to your account gets updated with the information from others, and you can keep a separate calendar with any info you want (which you can toggle on and off)?

      1. Mints*

        I was going to suggest this too. Accept invites from the shared calendar, then hide it when you want to look at your own stuff. (There’s even a “copy to my own calendar” button, where you can add in more info and change details for your own use).

    5. -X-*

      Ad travel time as your own appointment ahead of the meeting. And put notes in that, or in another meeting you set at the same time as the meeting you’re invited to.

      If the organization has a shared software platform, it makes sense to use the built-in invite tool. If you want to add to that, fine. But don’t try to get other people to not use the tool to invite you.

      1. Kathryn*

        I was going to suggest this too. You can accept the invites, and just add your travel times and/or notes around the meeting.

  4. Nyxalinth*

    I just got a seasonal temp position for Valentine’s Day. My question is (since it’s temp and they don’t know whether or not they’ll need someone for after the holiday too–it depends on someone who’s out on maternity leave) what’s the best way to put this on my resume/discuss in interviews? It’s only for three weeks. Also, since it’s only for three weeks, should I try to hunt for something permanent around whatever schedule I get (we won’t know until Monday) or just focus on working there? I kind of want to keep looking since even though it’s temp I figure employers will think “Temp seasonal job better than no job.”

    1. mary*

      I would probably leave it off my resume unless it turns into a long term position. You can still bring it up in cover letters and interviews to talk about the skills you used and how they would fit in a new job you’re applying for.

    2. Amanda*

      This is exactly the sort of work that I put on my LinkedIn profile and not on my resume – as long as it adds important skills or experience. I figure that I’d like to have a record somewhere that I did it, and that pretty much everyone gets Googled as part of a job search now.

  5. Katniss*

    I’m having a kind of stupid problem at my work place:

    Every week I order pasta at some point. I do it because I get a HUGE portion for about $14 so it covers two lunches in a row for me. I have a coworker that feels the need to comment on it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. She’s been getting progressively more snarky about it and I just don’t understand why she’s so obsessed with what I eat for lunch.

    We get along in every other aspect, but it’s gotten to the point where I get nervous ordering pasta because I don’t feel like being made fun of for it.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Victoria Nonprofit*

      Have you thought about saying something like “Sarah, why are you so interested in what I eat?” It sounds like you have a good relationship with her, so this could be a genuine question (and a bit of a reminder for her to back off).

      1. Katniss*

        I think I’m going to try this next time. Her interest is just so bizarre to me, but I think she’s just the type that likes to poke at people.

    2. Malissa*

      A dead cold stare and asking if that is all because you’d like to enjoy your lunch in peace. Or asking her if she’s jealous.
      The direct approach might be the best one here. I’d flat out ask her why MY lunch choices are so offensive to her.

    3. Colette*

      There are a lot of potential responses (ranging from “Wow”, if she’s said something really outrageous to “Now I don’t have to come up with lunch for tomorrow!” if it’s something mild).

      I’d probably say something directly if it’s truly in the “being made fun of” category – perhaps “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t comment on my lunch” – and then reiterate if necessary.

    4. VintageLydia*

      Throw it in her face.

      No. Don’t do that. I’m far too blunt for my own good, so I doubt my real advice would be useful. That said, I’d just ask her point blank why she cares what you eat, let her answer with her “concerns”, then say that OK, you understand, but you’re still going to order what you want, so please don’t comment about it anymore. In the words of the great Captain Awkward, you’re not ordering pasta AT her, so she’ll just need to get over it.

      1. Nyxalinth*

        I read Captain Awkward, she’s awesome. I love that line, because I used to have a successful, much more talented and attractive friend. I wish I’d have had that line years ago! She wasn’t any of those things AT me.

        1. VintageLydia*

          I wouldn’t say that phrase has been life changing, but it’s helped immensely when dealing with more successful (school and career-wise) friends of mine. Now I can be happy for them, rather than bitter! And it also helps me remember when someone is upset at the way I do things that have no effect on them (like what I eat or whether I drink or read certain books) that it’s THEIR issues, not mine, so I can stop feeling bad about it. It’s not an all-access pass to be an asshole, of course, but a reminder that I’m allowed to like what I like and make certain life choices and not everyone has to agree with me.

        2. Laura L*

          Same. I wish I’d known this in high school and that some of my friends had known this in middle school…

          1. Peaches*

            My dad always told me a phrase with a similar meaning.

            “And who’s problem is that? Let them own it.”

    5. Frances*

      Does she say it just when you make the original order, or when you are having the leftovers also? If it’s only the first I’d maybe say — “you know this is also tomorrow’s lunch, too, right?” You’d think that she’d have noticed by now, but sometimes people are oblivious.

      But if she’s saying it both times, then you might have to consider how much you want to tell her to back off and in what tone.

    6. LCL*

      You could go all consciousness-raising on her. The short version is:
      “Would you just make that remark to a man?”

      The long version is:
      “See, this is why women don’t run the world. Because we are too busy with trivialities, such as scrutinizing each other’s lunch choices.”

      Or you could be compassionate about it.
      “I’m sorry that someone has taught you that women are supposed to police other women’s meals. I don’t do that, and I don’t want you to do it to me.”

      So yeah, I jumped immediately to this being a gender issue, because it is. The snarky coworker may be struggling with food issues herself, so resist the tendency to say “F&*$ off about my lunch.”

      Malissa has the best advice, and her approach is the one to take the instant someone starts mocking you for something. Don’t let it go on to the point where it is making you nervous.

    7. Scott M*

      They probably think this is just some gentle teasing that isn’t a big deal. And they completely miss the subtle cues you are giving off that it really annoys you. So just say it. “Hey, I know you didn’t mean it that way, but when you comment on what I order it really bothers me. It’s just a pet peeve of mine. Could you not do that next time?”

      1. Mishsmom*

        i agree with Scott M, me and another colleague used to comment on people’s food – just to be friendly believe it or not – like saying “oh, that looks good, are you gonna share it” or “did you bring enough for everyone” – and honestly, we did not know how ANNOYING that was to others. i finally figured it out, but i wish this one coworker would have said it nicely – like “i know you don’t mean to/know it/etc but it makes me uncomfortable”… people usually don’t have bad motives – just awkward comments :)

        1. Cassie*

          How did you figure it out? I’m not being snarky, I’m actually curious. I have coworkers who make comments like that too and it makes me uncomfortable. I know they are just trying to be polite/make conversation/etc but it bugs me. However, I don’t feel like I can say something either…

          Maybe some Jedi mind tricks? ;)

    8. Anonymous*

      “Huh, I think you mentioned that last week too. Is there something about my meal choices that is relevant to you? I’d rather talk about .”

    9. Paralegal*

      Can you pretend you didn’t hear the snarky tone, and respond as such? For example:

      Coworker: Wow, that is a reeeaaally huge serving of pasta.
      You: I know, right?! :D It looks so good! / I can eat the leftovers tomorrow! / You really should try ordering from here!

      With any luck, since she isn’t getting the response she is looking for, she will give up.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ha, this is a great way to deal with snark and it works on bullies too. It takes the wind right out of their sails. They’re hoping to upset/annoy you and when they can’t, they drop it.

    10. Pancakes*

      A simple, “So?” usually leaves them speechless. Or fumbling for words.

      What is she saying exactly? Is she making fun of the fact that you get the same thing? Or that you eat it for two lunches? Or that it’s just pasta in general?

    11. KellyK*

      A couple options, depending on whether you want to be formal and boundary-setting or light and less serious:

      “I don’t feel it’s appropriate for you to comment on what I’m eating. Please stop.”

      “Why are you so interested in what I’m having for lunch?”

      If she’s commenting negatively on what or how much you’re eating, I’d be hard-pressed to bite back, “Who died and made you my nutritionist?” but would probably settle for, “I’m not really interested in unsolicited nutrition advice, thanks.”

    12. Ann*

      I know how you feel. I work with a lot of people from a foreign county. I do get lots of comments and questions about what I eat and what Americans eat, and do we all eat hamburgers all the time. But, one person in particular comments on what I eat every single day. I usually bring my lunch and he goes so far as to grab my bag and look inside. He then makes comments and gives advice on what I should be eating. It’s become a running joke, because he gives all this, I guess the best phrase is “cultural advice”. Like eating such and such at this time will make you lose weight, but if you eat it at this time it will make you gain. (In other words, not exactly scientific). Of course this is the same guy that will grab handfuls of candy out of the candy jar I have for clients. Unfortunately, he’s also my direct supervisor, so I really can’t say much.

    13. Ellie H.*

      I totally sympathize. There is nothing I hate more than someone commenting on (or even noticing) what I’m eating. You didn’t say what the comments are – if it’s just sort of banal comments like “Oh, getting pasta, huh? What did you get? Is it good? I love alfredo but it’s so bad for you!” or if she is actually commenting on the amount of food you are ordering. Honestly, I hate this, but I would just put up with it. That’s what I do, but I don’t think any of these other suggestions are bad either.

      If someone says something to me like “Wow, that’s a lot of food” or “OMG, delicious but so ‘bad’!” or “Wow, that looks good!” I usually say “I know! I’m excited!” This is pretty much my standard response to any comment on what I am eating.
      I’ve also said “Good thing I’m not trying to lose weight,” when it seemed appropriate, but I wouldn’t say that to someone I knew to be trying to lose weight or who could be perceived as overweight, in case it came off wrong.

      1. Anonymous*

        I for one am glad you are very cautious about your last line (though it could be a problem for someone who is more slender due to eating disorders).

        However, I imagine someone saying the “I know! I’m excited!” line in the most deadpan voice and it is making me far more happy that in acceptable at work at 2:30. It sounds like a brilliant line. (I’d guess you deliver it with gusto, but I may have to steal it and give it a deadpan.)

        1. Ellie H.*

          Yeah, for sure. I don’t say that last one that much. I used to have an eating disorder, and so I intend it as kind of a “fuck you” to the idea that it’s always good for everyone to be thinking about losing weight. And haha, thanks. I try to say it (as with most things) with cheerful enthusiasm, but it’s certainly possible that it doesn’t always totally come off that way.

    14. Kristen*

      If her comments are only slightly snarky, maybe you could almost act like she is interested in the food.
      Coworker: Wow, pasta AGAIN?
      You: Yep, their pasta is really tasty/has big portions so you can have it for two meals/convenient. Do you want to order some with me next week and split the delivery charge?
      Or I suppose you can always respond with something silly like “yep, I really need to load up on carbs for all the cleaning I have to get done this weekend.”
      Or give yourself a real break from work and go eat in the restaurant you order from instead and your snotty coworker will no longer be privy to your eating habits.

  6. Katniss*

    Oh a more fun note, a loan for a really horrible right-wing politician came through my pipeline at work yesterday and I was glad I didn’t have to be the one to assign it!

  7. Sandrine*

    Just wanted to post an update about the post where I asked if I should disclose I’m fat anywhere in the hiring process.

    Since then, I had accepted an interview for a shoe shop that needed to improve its sales since, as the guy doing the hiring explained to me, they were re-starting the store and needed to modernize it and stuff. At first I was totally excited, but two days after the interview, I remembered that he said something like he didn’t want someone who would “fight for their rights” at the drop of a hat and for some reason I was scared and resolved to say no if they called again. They haven’t :D . Yay!

    As for my job itself, I still sortof hate it, BUT for some reason I almost want to go to work now. I talked to my Boss and had a rather nice meeting with him, and since then we’ve had a team potluck-y lunch (agreed upon in advance with participants of course) , I’ve brought treats a few times, another coworker brought crepes, pretty fantastic.

    They’re thinking of doing a “mercato” around February 10th though (yeah, that thing with shuffling soccer players and stuff, except with service reps XD) though, and I’ve told my boss I don’t want to leave him (yeah, talk about a huge change for me lol) . And he said the same ha XD . He isn’t after me so much now, and I feel better about my work in general even if there’s still room for improvement. Yay!

    And, last but not least, I *finally* got asked for a tutoring mission for new employees starting February 11th. Only for a week, but I’m so excited it’s not even funny. It will be on the evening shift, but I don’t care, I’m too happy for the opportunity as it will help a lot when/if I apply for a promotion again (maybe third time will be the charm :P ).

    Thank you Alison :D !

    1. moss*

      I am really happy for you Sandrine! Glad you are feeling better and good luck on the job hunt. Wish someone would bring crepes in here, that sounds DEEElicious!

    2. Min*

      I remembered that he said something like he didn’t want someone who would “fight for their rights” at the drop of a hat and for some reason I was scared and resolved to say no if they called again.

      Wow, that’d be a big red flag for me, too!

      That’s great that you’re feeling more positive about your job and that things are improving! Thanks for the update :)

      1. EM*

        Exactly. “We don’t want somebody who would fight for their rights” = we want to be able to take advantage of workers with impunity.

        I’m really glad you’re feeling better about your job. :)

  8. RL*

    Interviewed at a company yesterday where I had some time to talk to the three people who would be reporting into me, if I was in the role. They all mentioned that they typically work 12 hour days (in the office). Is that normal? Or should I be running for the hills? I typically work a 50 hour work week and that feels like I’m working pretty damn hard…

    1. bemo12*

      It really depends on the sector you are working in. 12 hour days are not unheard of in start-ups and certain other sectors.

    2. Anonymously*

      That all depends on industry and their company. You should definitely ask the hiring manager what the actual hits are like. If they’re good, they’ll be upfront and tell you the reality vs. standard business hours on paper.

    3. Jamie*

      If they are managerless at the moment it’s possible they are working those hours until they bring the new manager in and it’s not typical.

      But yeah – it’s not unheard of in some industries/fields so if that matters to you I’d make sure you know what you’re jumping into.

    4. COT*

      I’d ask those above you (or the hiring manager) as well. If your employees work long hours you probably would, too, but it’s good to get other perspectives before making a decision.

    5. Annie*

      I think that you have to decide for yourself if you should run for the hills – are you willing to work 12 hours if needed? I don’t and *won’t* work that many hours. But I’m not a VP or anything… heck even our VPs at this company don’t work that many hours.

      1. J.B.*

        Which relates back to the last thread and Jamie’s comments about IT really not being right for everyone :)

    6. Anon2*

      Depends on the industry. For police, fire, and EMS, that’s not uncommon at all, and is preferred. They’ll still work about 40 hours a week, but 12 hour shifts mean that they’ll have a three day weekend. I’d ask what the total hours for the week are going to be.

      1. Peaches*

        Newsrooms *can* have very long hours, especially at newspapers if the editor’s aren’t conscious of it, because they’ve been so diminished in staff and then reporters have to cover evening events too.

        Some friends in other creative industries also report long hours but, when not speaking to a boss, will admit that there tends to be a lull in the middle of the day when people socialize or mentally check out for a bit to recharge.

  9. Yas*

    To bring or not to bring a notebook to an interview? Not to take notes, but to have all the questions you want to ask on hand and make sure you have covered them all.

    I ask because I have done an extensive google search and it appears to be really split. Seems practical to me and the interviewer also has notes/questions with them. Thoughts?

    1. Sabrina*

      I always do. For taking notes and for having a list of questions to ask. Most interviewers take notes, why not you?

      1. ChristineH*

        Is it okay to take notes during interviews? It’d really help me retain the information given, and gives me something to refer to when thinking back on the opportunity.

        1. fposte*

          To me, absolutely. I open interviews by saying “We’ll be taking notes, and please feel free to do so as well.”

    2. Ann*

      I’ve been told that this comes across as though you didn’t prepare hard enough.

      But I’m also a recent grad and the assumption seems to be that we NEVER prepare hard enough, and also that we have less to talk about, re: our career…and ask, since we should just be grateful to get the interview.

      So it may be different for more senior levels?

        1. Ann*

          That makes sense to me, but I was told (by a career counselor, so I guess grain of salt) that hiring managers will generally assume that I wrote down notes about myself/answers to potential questions they will ask, and that wouldn’t come across well…even if you don’t have that sort of thing outlined.

          It would’ve been great to bring a list of questions with me when I was job searching! Can’t tell you how many interviews I walked out kicking myself because I forgot to ask something.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            What?! Yeah, I mean, if you’re looking down at your notes while answering questions, sure. But presumably you’re not doing that.

            Sadly, this now means that you need to assume everything that person has ever told you on any subject is wrong.

            1. Maire*

              A friend of mine who does some recruitment interviewed a guy for an accounts post. When she asked him a question he couldn’t answer, he got out his iPAD and started reading of his CV.
              Clearly the question wasn’t even that difficult when the answer was available on his CV.

          2. Martina*

            Maybe this could work for you: At the start of the interview, I typically open to a clean page in my notebook so I can take notes. (if the interviewer sees the empty page, they can’t make assumptions about what sort of notes I’m coming in with.) I have my questions on a separate page, so I turn to that when it comes time.

            1. Martina*

              I also don’t think it’d be the worst thing to have some notes reminding you to talk about something. Like make sure to mention my passion for X, in case they don’t ask me about it. But, of course, that’s just me!

    3. Amanda*

      Yes. But not a spiral bound high school one. I have a nice leather portfolio with lined paper in it that I bring to every interview with my own questions. It has a pocket in the front where I keep extra copies of my resume and cover letter as well as the job description so that I can review while I’m waiting for the interview to start. I’ve also been in one or two interviews where someone in the interview didn’t have a copy of my resume and I’ve been able to provide one.

    4. KayDay*

      I always bring a nice padfolio thing. I keep my extra resume copies in there, a copy of the job description, and (obvi) a notepad. I’ll usually discretely jot down a few key words to remind myself of specific questions, but not write down the entire question.

    5. twentymilehike*

      I always bring a folder with a copy of my resume, references, the job description, and any other relevant materials I’ve collected along the way.

      Aaaand on Monday I LEFT IT AT THE INTERVIEW. And the building is all high security, and I didn’t want to have to go through security all over again and have someone walk me through the maze, so I left a message with the front desk letting them know that I did not need the folder back and they were able to either dispose of it or keep it at their discretion … I’m not even sure how embarrassed I should be, but it was certainly headsmack momement … ESPECIALLY interviewing for a job that involves heavy organization :(

      What do you think they thought of that? Sigh …

      1. Adam V*

        > What do you think they thought of that?

        Probably nothing. If they’re at all thoughtful, they’ll realize that people are always a bit nervous during interviews, and especially if you call and say “I don’t need it back”, they’ll understand that it was only for this interview anyway and leaving it behind is not a huge deal.

        1. twentymilehike*

          Probably nothing. If they’re at all thoughtful, they’ll realize that people are always a bit nervous during interviews

          Thanks, Adam. I think I just needed to hear it from someone else. :)

    6. Blinx*

      Like others, I have the portfolio/pad of paper that holds everything. I have business cards to hand out, and it’s also a handy place to tuck business cards that you get.

      I also have a 1-page printout that I made that has all the info I’d need if I had to fill out a job application on the spur of the moment. Exact dates, start/stop salaries, names/numbers of references, addresses of previous employers — all the details that are not on my resume. I keep this folded up and would NEVER show it to or leave it with anybody. At home, I copy/paste from it to online applications.

    7. Mike C.*

      Seriously, bring it. The only thing to be aware of is that if you make notes regarding the questions to organize your thoughts, they may ask you to leave those behind to preserve the question list.

      So take notes that you’re going to be taking back with you on a different sheet of paper. But bring it, it’s too useful not to, and I think it gives a great impression.

    8. Jubilance*

      Bring the notebook & have your questions ready. Plus then you’ll also have a place to jot down any new questions you think of during the interview.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I have a leather padfolio with all my printouts (the job description, my cover letter, an extra copy of my resume, etc) and it has a legal pad and pen attached. It has a place for a folder or two, and business card slots. All very self-contained and professional. It says the name of a local hospital on the front, and I’ve been asked if I worked there, but I just tell people I got it at the flea market (I did). I’ve never had anyone get judge-y about that.

      It’s getting kind of raggedy on the edges, though. Now that I have a job I think I’ll snag a new one.

  10. Sabrina*

    What do you do when you’ve applied for an internal position(s) and HR is completely non-responsive? I’ve applied for a position twice now, first time I never heard anything but the online system said that my app was closed. Second time (about a month ago) I applied, app status went to “under consideration” and then nothing. Our HR system changed over 1/1 and you can’t view status on apps done on the old system. I’ve tried asking HR and was told I would be contacted if I was selected or not, but given their track record (this isn’t the only thing I’ve flat out been ignored on) I have about as much hope of that happening as I do of Firefly making a return to TV. My manager said she would look into it but I don’t have much hope there either. Am I SOL? Should I just give up and if I ever hear anything I can be pleasantly surprised?

    1. Malissa*

      Have you tried talking to the hiring manager in the other department?
      Given that nobody really seems to want to say anything to you I’d have a talk with my boss. I’d be asking them if there are areas where I could improve and where they could see my career going in the company.

      1. Daniel*

        “I have about as much hope of that happening as I do of Firefly making a return to TV”

        Wonderful comparison! That show was awful.

    2. KimmieSue*

      I sincerely wish you the best in this application, but I had to comment. One of my pet peeves is when employees and applicants blame HR for crappy interview and application processes. It’s not always HRs fault. They are not out to get anyone. They like to see internal applicants receive new opportunities and promotions. They RARELY make the actual hiring decision, but perhaps manage the process. Please consider that:
      1) It may not actually be HR that is sitting on the application (especially with the second “in consideration” piece).
      2) It’s possible that the hiring manager has your application but hasn’t done anything with it and HR is waiting on feedback or next steps.
      3) It’s possible that the hiring manager has already preselected someone for the job and is just going through the motions.
      4) You may not be qualified for the job but no one has the ability and/or guts to communicate that to you.
      If you are truly interested, I’d ask your manager to find out who the hiring manager is. Email that person and let them you have applied and are sincerely hoping to be interviewed. Also, ask someone you trust that can be objective to review your resume against the job requirements. Please listen to their feedback and don’t get defensive and hurt.

      1. Sabrina*

        To be sure, I’m not blaming HR for anything. I’m just frustrated that they can’t even tell someone when they didn’t get the job. I do know that’s a function of their old system at least, as when I was temping for this job and was offered to come on full time, I had to fill out an application, which was then rejected along with an email telling me I wasn’t qualified for the job I was already doing.

  11. Ali*

    I was just wondering when we were going to have another one of these because I have kind of an in-depth question.

    I would eventually like to be a freelance copywriter. Because I am working full-time (and can’t afford to quit said full-time job), this is a long-term goal…I’m looking at being set up and full-time freelancing within two years. That means I’ll have been at my current company for five years if this goal pans out, plus I’ll be almost 30 by then.

    I have read a couple of books on having a copywriting business, and I also have some on how to write different materials. However, I’m still not quite sure how or when to get started. What should I be doing now? Should I build a website first? Try to get clients (even if it’s free/pro bono) first? Get business cards? There seems like there is so much to do, and I have no idea what order to do it in.

    I realize it might be a hurdle not being able to launch this full-time, but after reading these books, I know I could see myself doing well at this. Any ideas of how I can lay the groundwork now to achieve my goal in the two years time (or less)?

    1. Ali*

      OK I guess I didn’t really need to put my age there. It’s not relevant. Haha. Just ignore that part.

      1. Anonymous*

        Almost 30 /gasp the horror

        Have you looked at trying to find yourself a mentor? I think that would be a really good step. Try to find someone who is where you’d like to be and see about trying to develop a relationship, ask some questions, etc.

        But I think the most important thing for this is going to be to have really, really, really….good writing things, what with the words and such.

        1. twentymilehike*

          Have you looked at trying to find yourself a mentor? I think that would be a really good step.

          Mentors are amazing. However, I’ve heard about people who will seek out mentors and ask them to mentor them officially, whereas, my mentors have always been people that I stumbled accross and developed relationships while working … so maybe those aren’t actually mentors by definition?

          Anyhow, regardless, having someone to be your career soundingboard/advisor/mentor/whathaveyou, is invaluable. I have someone that is a contractor to my current company, but I see him almost every day since he works mostly out of our office. We’ve been working together for years and his wisdom from years of experience and his place in the industry is great asset to me. Another is a professor that I clicked with and feel comfortable going to for career advice. He was always willing to sit down with me in his office and let me pick his brain and even now he is still only an email away.

          Find someone who’s experience you wish you had, and someone who you can easily talk to and that you get the vibe from them that they will be honest and patient with you and never take it for granted :)

        2. Ali*

          Obviously, the writing is the most important thing. I majored in communications/journalism in college and have worked as a copy editor for the last couple of years. I know I can handle the writing…believe me if I didn’t think I could, I wouldn’t consider the path!

    2. LMW*

      I’d start by getting a good portfolio together (digital is definitely smart). Make sure that you have samples of your work that you can share.
      Personally, if I were hiring a freelance copywriter (which I’m occasionally in a position to do), I’d want to be able to see samples of your work, I’d like to know what goals/objectives your were working toward (audience, value prop, etc.).
      I’d also work on learning the best questions to ask clients to make them feel like you get it and will give them great work right away. I hate when I’m working with an agency or freelancer and I have to hand-hold them through the whole process. I like it when I’m working with someone and they ask great targeted questions about how the copy fits into overall campaigns; if they’re writing for the web, I want them to ask about key words and SEO; I want them ask about tone, style, messaging, customers, etc.
      So being able to not only show great work, but show that you are easy and efficient to work with is important.

    3. Rana*

      My suggestion is to start by doing some research into organizations for people doing that sort of work. Generally they’ll have some sort of forum/list-serv associated with them, and membership often also includes in-person networking opportunities. Read, lurk, ask questions, pick their brains! (If you’re on LinkedIn, check out the groups “LinkEds and writers,” and “copy editors and proofreaders”; both have a lot of useful info about writing, and freelancing.)

      The _very_ first thing I’d do is start putting the word out to friends and colleagues that you’re looking for work. Also important is to draw up a budget and figure out how to survive on your savings; if you can budget for at least a year’s worth of expenses it will be a lot less stressful during the start-up period (where clients are few, expenses are many, and the learning curve is steep).

      Business cards are useful, as are webpages, but they serve different purposes. Cards are good for networking, for reaching out, etc. I find that websites are more useful as a sort of virtual brochure that you can direct people to. For that reason, it may be helpful to have a very basic one describing you and what you do, and put the address on your business card. (Also: don’t buy too many business cards – you will probably make changes to things in the first year or so, and you don’t want to be handing out ones with old info on it.)

      You may also want to get an EIN for tax purposes; that way you don’t have to give your SSN to clients, and it helps keep your accounting straight.

      And don’t worry about not going at it full-time right away. It’s better to go through that steep learning curve while you have a source of money and benefits; it cuts out a lot of stress.

  12. Anonymous*

    Can anyone suggest other blogs that even come close to AAM? This is the only blog I read religiously, would love suggestions from other loyal readers. :) Happy Friday!

    1. Joey*

      Depends on what you’re looking for. For a thoughtful comments section good luck finding anything close to AAM. But for good work related reading I like:
      Seth Godins blog
      Fistful of Talent

    2. Natalie*

      I don’t read a lot of other career blogs, but in the general interest category:

      Arts & Entertainment – The AV Club (sister publication of the Onion)

      Advice – Captain Awkward

      Recipes – The Smitten Kitchen

      Random funsies – Letters of Note, Regretsy, Passive Aggressive Notes, Cracked

      1. Ellie H.*

        I love the AV Club. I consider it my main internet “home.” I comment on there too, same name (very very different avatar).

        I also like and comment on The Hairpin, which is kind of general interest aimed at young-ish women.

    3. littlemoose*

      One I recently discovered and really enjoy is Adulting, which covers being an adult regarding both major and minor issues. I find it reasonable and kind of inspiring without being cloying or unrealistic. (I may have found it through links in AAM comments, come to think of it).
      Others I enjoy: Unf*ck Your Habitat, STFU Parents, Dr. Grumpy in the House, Passive-Aggressive Notes, and Regretsy (NSFW). But I agree that this blog is my favorite; I don’t regularly comment anywhere else.

    4. Megan*

      There’s a good one that I’ve been meaning to share recently:
      Much of it is based on generating more income for yourself or personal finance advice, which isn’t exactly related. BUT.
      Recently he’s been doing a lot of material on how to figure out if you’re underpaid, how to make a case for a raise, how to a) decide what your dream job is and b) go get it, WHILE looking at the psychological barriers to doing the things we really want to that we create for ourselves. It’s very interesting and it’s been helpful for me. His language may be a turn-off for some, though.

      1. anon*

        I’m not a huge fan of Ramit’s blog (always seems like if you’re not doing things his way, you’re lazy or whiny). However, I think his book (I Will Teach You To Be Rich) has great personal finance advice.

        1. Megan*

          Yeah, I can see that. Long-term it could become irritating, but as the material is still new to me I’m mostly still just soaking it in.

    5. Al Lo*

      * — brilliant commentary on Hollywood, classic and current (her tagline is “Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style,” and it’s brilliant)
      * , for random, interesting tidbits of information (including a 3-year series that’s recapping the events leading up to WW1 in real-time, 100 years after they took place)
      * and , for the more retail side of frustrating work stories.

      I don’t always comment on these sites, but these are well-written, mostly humorous, with varying degrees of commenter engagement.

    6. Guest*

      Besides AAM, I spend a lot of time on “connecting with other adults who have braces on their teeth”.
      Gray hair and braces are a great combination – makes it difficult for employers to to guess your age when you go for interviews.

  13. Sam*

    This one if for my brother. His company went out of business last month without giving any notice to employees. His last check was a week late and did NOT include his accrued vacation time, although state law requires that accrued vacation time is paid as wages within 2 weeks of termination. He tried to contact management multiple times. Finally the CEO/owner sent him an email asking for his patience. He got a new job and then found out that his company has also hired the CEO from his old company (!!!). What should my brother do? He can file a complaint with the state labor board or hire a lawyer to try to sue for his $4k, but the old CEO is now a senior employee in his new company. My brother knows he is owed the money, but is really worried about creating waves in the new job.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Can he talk to the CEO and say “I’m in an awkward situation here and don’t want to make things weird between us, so I wanted to touch base with you before I proceed”? Not as in “so you can stop me,” but more as in “because this is potentially awkward.”

      By the way, if he’s in CA (sounds like it from the law), he shouldn’t need to hire a lawyer. State labor agency should handle it for him for free.

      1. Sam*

        He has tried to reach out many times, both by phone and email. Besides the one return email asking for patience, the old CEO hasn’t responded. The state dept of labor (not CA) will take a complaint and send a few nasty letters to the company, but it sounds like there’s no enforcement teeth. If the nasty letters aren’t effective, the next step is to hire a lawyer.

        1. Sam*

          I should add, both companies were national and the old CEO is in another state. So it’s not like they are running into each other at work. It’s awkward though, because the old CEO is a few levels up the hierarchy in the new company (boss’s boss’s boss).

    2. KayDay*

      Personally, I wouldn’t worry about the fact that the check was late, I don’t think that’s worth fighting over. However, $4K in vacation time payout is a lot of money. I would probably try to find a trusted lawyer or adviser to speak with about this before going to the labor board. Basically, he needs to find out what the chances are of him actually getting the money. If he does decide to contact the labor board or sue, I think it might be best to personally contact the CEO first, but again, I would double check with a lawyer about this.

      1. Sam*

        I agree about not fighting because the check was late. I added the detail because I think it shows that the old company is either really broke and/or not taking labor laws too seriously.

        1. Cathy*

          Might also be that the old CEO is in a state that doesn’t require payout of vacation and he doesn’t know the laws for your brother’s state. There was probably a payroll/hr dept that handled those details. Your brother should definitely file a complaint with the Dept of Labor or whatever the correct government organization in his sate is called. If that hasn’t worked within 3 months, then he could consider hiring a lawyer to write a demand letter for him. Anything more than that is probably going to cost more than the $4k he’s trying to recover.

    3. Anonymous*

      I know that other people will say that you are owed this money and you should get it, but I’m going to say despite being owed money I never got paid it and sometimes it is best for your own health to walk away. Certainly try, do what you can, contact the right people (board of whoever in your state etc) but don’t let this stop you from moving forward. Does this let people get away with being horrible business owners and human beings? Yes. But sadly the world isn’t fair and sometimes crummy people get to go on being crummy and the best you can do is not stay hung up on it.

      1. Sam*

        I know my brother is considering dropping it so his current job isn’t jeopardized. On the other hand, four grand is a lot of money to him.

  14. Kate*

    How many times can you do a salary counter-offer and negotiations? I would think it would be offer/counter-offer/negotiated/done, but I’m dealing with a really dim HR recruiter. I don’t want to appear ungrateful or exceptionally needy.

    1. KimmieSue*

      Can you provide a little more detail? Did you provide your salary expectations on the front end of the process? Did their initial offer meet those expectations? There is no set number of offer/counter offers; it really depends on the circumstance.
      As a recruiter, my personal goal is to make one offer that is attractive and not negotiate at all. Of course, this doesn’t happen very often. :-)

      When I make an offer that is fair, at market rate and within the candidate’s stated salary expectations and THEN they want more money, that ticks me off and yes, they appear GREEDY.

      1. Kate*

        Thank you for the feedback!

        KimmieSue – The salary was discussed 4 times (with real numbers) throughout the process, and I was told it was within range and reasonable. The offer was $10k less than that stated amount and $5k lower than average rate in my area. There has been difficulty with the recruiter (unresponsive, scheduling wrong days, enough for another AAM post) throughout this whole thing. Naturally, I’m worried.

        This makes me happy: “As a recruiter, my personal goal is to make one offer that is attractive and not negotiate at all.”

      2. Job seeker*

        KimmieSue, are you a recruiter? Would you mind giving me a suggestion about how I could possible make a bad impression better with HR. I know I came across not knowing how to do things on the phone before, but HR had expressed interest in my application for two different jobs. I have friends that work at this particular company and one is a nurse practioner that has told me to use her for a reference. Unfortunately, I have never worked with these friends so they cannot give me a referral. Someone told me it took them two years to get hired there and they had a lot of experience. I don’t want to sound like I am bragging on myself, but I do know quite a lot about medical office. I have been employed doing this many years ago and I have a desire to help people. Part of me says move on girl, but I really want to be a part of this company. I keep applying but I don’t want to look like some people discussed here as being a pest or not having a clue. I have been told many times this is the hardest place to get hired. The volunteer coordinator there is my neighbor and she told me to use her for a reference. She shared with me it is who you know but so far no luck. Any suggestions I would really appreciate. :-)

      3. EM*

        “When I make an offer that is fair, at market rate and within the candidate’s stated salary expectations and THEN they want more money, that ticks me off and yes, they appear GREEDY.”


        This is why many, especially women, are terrified to negotiate salary, even though we are told that not negotiating potentially shorts us of thousands of dollars over a career. We don’t want people to think we’re “GREEDY”.

        And for the record, I negotiated my salary because I knew I brought a highly specialized skill set that I know for a fact that brings in twice my salary in revenue to the company. But maybe I am just greedy.

  15. Wannabe Vlogger*

    My roommate and I are planning to do a vlog series about feminist theory. It’ll be primarily academic and all PG, but obviously it necessarily involves some “political” issues. I don’t really foresee it affecting my career (I won’t be using my full name, but you never know on the internet), but since I’ll hopefully be interviewing soon – what would I say if it came up? Do you think it would potentially negatively affect my candidacy in the sense that they’d be worried I couldn’t be professionally neutral in an office environment?

    1. Mike C.*

      Pretty much what you said here. Let them know that everyone has hobbies and interests that don’t follow them to work. You’re going to run into folks who freak out at the idea of feminism (which is a real shame, the things feminism is fighting for hurt everyone), but so long as you aren’t the face of the company and the company isn’t connected, I don’t see why it should matter.

      Furthermore, you can refer potential employers to your references who should be able to speak about your workplace professionalism.

    2. COT*

      You might also be able to talk about the cool project you’re doing (when it’s relevant to the position) without mentioning the topic. Just say it’s an academic analysis or however you’d summarize it. If the interviewer asks the topic, answer in just a few words. Your ability to be discreet and brief in an interview will show them that you can do the same on the job. You seem to have a good handle on professional boundaries, so you’ll be fine!

    1. Jen in RO*

      What do you mean? My boss is in a different country – if that’s what you want to know about, I can share.

    2. Annie*

      Off the top of my head, we have lousy communication from our management team. Very cryptic that you need a decoder ring to figure out what they want.

    3. Lily*

      I’m leaning towards management via email. I can only get part of my team together twice a year, so meetings are definitely out. Emailing everyone seems fairer than talking to people individually, because no one can claim they were singled out or the topic wasn’t mentioned or was unclear.

      I had a boss who also gave negative feedback via email, followed by a meeting, if necessary. I appreciated the chance to check the facts and prepare an answer.

      What has worked via email and what hasn’t?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        When you say “management,” what are you talking about? For communicating things to the entire group, email is fine — unless it’s something that will be sensitive or sticky, in which case you should do a conference call so that people have the chance to ask questions, etc. But for management of individuals — feedback, etc. — you should do that in person or on the phone; don’t use email for anything complicated, sensitive, or potentially easily misinterpreted.

  16. Mike*

    So here is an interesting one but a bit of a fringe issue.

    Talking with a friend and former co-worker and we were discussing (broadly) about the candidates to fill my former position as a web programmer / server admin. He told me one of the candidates referenced a site he runs re-selling World of Warcraft accounts in his cover letter and during the interview. Since none of my former coworkers are gamers they didn’t know that such actions were intellectual property violations and against the game’s terms of service.

    Seems really odd to me to reference something that is civilly illegal and thus ethically questionable regardless of how successful and common it is.

    1. Nyxalinth*

      It is odd. I play WoW, and I don’t get why anyone would buy a character that is already level 90. Part of the fun and sense of accomplishment is taking a level 1 nobody in junky armor and leveling them yourself all the way to 90 with blinged out powerful weapons and armor.

      Damn kids these days. In my day (2008) we leveled our own toons and we didn’t have that fancy looking for group thing. We had to stand around in trade chat trying to find people to group with, and we liked it! *waves epic cane* Now get off my lawn! :D

        1. Nyxalinth*

          I’m not too perturbed by the heirlooms, but my first toon JUST dinged level 40 and got her mount…and then they came out for Level 30.

    2. Anonymous*

      I would be especially concerned for a position like this. He’s applying to be a web programmer and server admin and he doesn’t get that that’s a serious problem? Not see that it’s a problem enough that he is using it to promote himself as a potential employee.

      The only case I can see this is if the company was one that actively worked against things like intellectual property rights (which exist but I’m guessing that the company wasn’t one cause you would have mentioned it).

    3. KellyK*

      Yeah, that shows amazingly poor judgment (both doing it and mentioning it as an accomplishment). *Especially* in a field as geek-filled as programming. None of your former coworkers are gamers, but I’d bet that of all the applications he sends out, sizable minority will hit the desk of someone who plays WoW or is at least familiar enough with MMOs in general to know that account-selling is generally prohibited.

    4. Ellie H.*

      In a training session for the after-school program I worked at briefly, one of the other counselors started talking, in front of the director who hired all of us, about how when he was on the track team in college (major sports school) they would keep old tests and homework and stuff in the filing cabinet in the team office so that athletes who were doing poorly in school could copy off of it and not be suspended from the team. I was taken so aback. I really regret not voicing how shocked I was by it at the time.

      1. Judy*

        Hmmm. At my university, the honor societies saved copies of tests (with good grades) and sold them to students. The professors usually gave out one old test (without solutions) for practice. These were for engineering classes. Working lots of problems (and knowing you got them right) is how you pass classes like thermodynamics.

        1. Ellie H.*

          It was pretty clear from the context that the intention was to bypass doing work but merely to turn in copied answers.

          I definitely see that using old tests for practice, and solving problems with an answer key is a fantastic way to study but that’s not what was described. And for what it’s worth I think that saving and passing around old tests is really wrong though. I save my old tests but would never give them to a peer. I only think it’s appropriate if the professor provides it directly to the students.

          1. EM*

            I agree. My chem professor had old tests and answer keys on file at the school library, and told students to use them for studying. That’s completely different than copying someone else’s answers and passing them off as their own work. That’s called cheating. And yes, it’s different than knowing what the answer is supposed to be so you can check your work. An engineering or math or physics professor isn’t going to accept “46” as an answer with no work shown.

  17. Anonymous*

    I recently had my first performance appraisal at my new job. I received a positive overall rating, and positive ratings for the quality of my work, initiative, “customer service”, and the like. However, my boss feels I don’t communicate with him enough. I asked if he would like me to send him some sort of weekly update to apprise him of my projects. That’s when he pulled out a two page “communication plan” that requires me to send a Monday weekly summary, a Friday weekly recap, and an update every. single. day. about what I’m doing. This is in addition to a weekly staff meeting in which the 3 employees share updates with the 1 boss. Yes, that adds up to 6 weekly updates to the boss. I am trying to see both sides of the issue – that maybe I have done something that requires this type of management – but I can’t help but feel a little humiliated. He complimented me for doing my work well, so the need for so many updates seems excessive when I am clearly doing a good job. I sent my first “daily update” yesterday and felt completely ridiculous. I’m fine with establishing a schedule of updates, but every day? Gahhh….

    1. Joey*

      Sounds to me like he doesn’t really know what you’re doing day in and day out and how long it should take. I’d take it as more of him not being a very good manager.

      1. Jamie*

        That’s where my money would be – on him not being a very good manager. Is he new at it – and he’s erring on the side of total overkill?

        1. Anonymous*

          No, he isn’t new at it – but he acts like it. He loves reminding people that he’s the boss and loves to brag about all the people he has meetings with.

          1. EM*

            Heh. Sound like my old boss. He used to call me while he was standing in line at panera or whatever to “check in” and then hang up on me when it was his turn. I can only assume he wanted to broadcast that he had people he managed.

    2. Sam*

      6 updates sounds really excessive. The little paranoid part of me wonders if he’s starting some documentation trail.

      1. Anonymous*

        He told me he’s been documenting everything. And yet I get good marks for my work…? I’m so confused.

        1. Jane Doe*

          That’s really weird. Is this a small business where he’s the only boss and all employees report to him, or is he a manager who reports to someone higher up? If it’s the former that’s even weirder since I wouldn’t expect a business owner/business manager to be concerned with that level of detail daily. If it’s the latter, I wonder if this is actually being driven in part by his manager, who may be concerned that he’s not ensuring the people in his department are being consistently productive.

          1. Anonymous*

            A four-person department at a higher ed institution. We all report to him, and he reports up the chain. Nobody else is required to partake in these daily work updates. just me.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      How senior are you? If you’re not very junior, it would be reasonable to say, “It’s not typical to be asked to report daily at my level, and I’m wondering if there’s something going on that I don’t realize — concerns about my work or priorities?”

      1. Anonymous*

        What’s the definition of very junior? I have about 4 years of experience and don’t consider myself entry level, though I’m not at the point of managing anyone yet.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I might slightly rephrase then. Something like, “Since it’s unusual to be asked to report daily, I’m wondering if there’s something going on that I don’t realize — concerns about my work or priorities?” It’s a little harder to say when you’re not more senior, and you risk him writing you off as not knowing what you’re talking about (whereas a 40-year-old saying it would have deeper credibility), but it’s reasonable to say.

          Frankly, though, he just sounds like a horrible manager.

          1. Anonymous*

            Thanks for the wording. I think the age thing is a big part of it. I am 27 and the other person in my office with my same title is 40. Boss, in his 50s, sees me as a Stupid Young Person despite my professionalism, attire, and work ethic. I’m pretty sure I’ve had zero credibility with him from day 1.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I’d be surprised if so. This is a management decision. Wouldn’t be HR’s purview (and I can’t imagine any halfway competent manager standing for it if HR tried to tell them to do something like this). I don’t see any HR signs here.

    4. Mike C.*

      Send him updates every hour. Burnline/control/stoplight charts on everything.

      As for those daily updates, replace them with standing meetings at the beginning and end of the day where you walk your manager through everything. Take up a small conference room so you can hang them up on the wall.

      You know, just to be sure your manager is up to date on everything.

      1. Anonymous*

        Hehehe, my husband and I joked about this.

        1:06pm. Just returned from lunch. Ate a salad.
        1:30pm. Bathroom break. I went to the Secret Bathroom to ensure privacy.
        1:52pm. I got a phone call. They had the wrong number.

        1. Lindsay*

          One of my coworkers and I wanted to send my boss diary entries while he was on vacation similar to these since he wouldn’t be around to micromanage in person.

    5. Anonymous*

      What field are you in, cause this sounds a tiny bit like he’s stealing some Agile here and not quite knowing how to use it.

        1. Anonymous*

          An Agile is a small office bound critter found mainly in North America but has been known to be an invasive species in other parts of the world. Agile is a fairly new species and can be distinguished by the small protruding, sharp, and venomous horns on the top of the head. They are usually found sitting on recently vacated chairs where the heat is ideal for their body type. It is not recommended to keep as a pet but is not currently illegal in any locales. They should be fed only recycled paper. The most important thing about spotting an Agile in the wild is always check your chair before sitting down.

        1. Anonymous*

          Agile is a software development methodology (and a project management method too) part of which is daily check ins.
          Yesterday: I couldn’t get my button to work, I stared at it and clicked it a thousand times and it seems to happen when I stand on one foot.
          Today: I plan to get someone else to test the button on one foot.
          Roadblock: I can’t make it work!

          (Ok mediocre example…)

          Each day everyone checks in with what they did, are going to do, and are having trouble with. This is a very very tiny piece of it but someone could easily look at it and go, hey this works and then I can say we are an Agile environment which looks really cool right now.
          My hilarious comment about what Agile is got lost maybe because of the link so if you Wiki Agile Software Development you’ll find it.

          If this is his plan it might be worth talking about it a little more, see what he really wants, what makes sense, and if it is a good idea for your office. He should at least be able to articulate that. And if you go in saying, hey it sounds like you are trying to implement an Agile environment can you tell me more about why. You might get a very different answer.

          1. Anonymous*

            (I’m not the anon above)

            Agile isn’t as burdensome as you may think. A ten-minute check-in every day is a great way to keep the team on the same page.

  18. Amouse*

    I have a question about attending network events by yourself. Some lucky timing has a conference in the industry I am auditioning to go to school for in March coming to my city in May. Obviously I still have to audition and be accepted, but I’m hopeful if I work hard to prepare i can do this.

    The keynote speaker just happens to be one of the profs at the university I am auditioning for that I would have if accepted and she is also the director of the centre connected to the university in the industry I want. This is not entirely surprising given that the school I wish to attend is a leader in the field, but the timing is ideal and the school is in a different province, so I consider it lucky.

    I would be attending this conference by myself, would love to make contact with people there but I feel super awkward because I am there by myself and don’t know anyone. Does anyone have some tips on how to approach a potential contact like this, if I even should or how to act in general when I’m there by myself? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

    1. Joey*

      Compliment him after his keynote and mention that you’re auditioning to go to his school. If he engages ask him for tips for the audition?

      1. Amouse*

        Thanks! That would be a good ice-breaker :-) I’ll have done the audition before the conference so I’m really hoping if I get in, I’ll know before the conference cause then I can positively say “I’ll be attending your program in the fall” as opposed to “I might be”

    2. Lulu*

      I go to networking events all the time by myself, and though it’s not my ideal situation, I basically just remind myself that everyone is there for the same reason – to meet new people! – so it’s not inappropriate to just walk up to someone and introduce yourself. I usually look for others who are by themselves, or who might be standing around looking awkward, and just introduce myself, and ask what brings them here. People generally like to talk about themselves, so asking how they got into their business or line of interest usually opens the floodgates. It’s not easy to make the first move all the time, but I figure if I make one good connection, it will have been worth it. Good luck!

  19. rachael*

    I have a question about performance reviews. I have an end of year performance review coming up, and have been here about 10 months. In that time, my supervisor left and her supervisor was demoted, and they hired someone new to replace her. In the interim I reported to the regional director ( who is basically two steps above me on the Org chart).
    Now they want the new director to conduct my performance review, but she has only been here six weeks. It’s an important process because it is used to determine bonuses, raises, etc. I spoke to HR and they said the demoted director should do it, but I am concerned that this will not capture my full work ( because I didn’t report to her and she wasn’t very good at her job, hence why she was demoted). Does anyone have any ideas about how to make this review a useful process and ensure it shows all the work I have done so that I am in a good place to get a raise at my one year?

    Thanks, sorry for the long winded question.

    1. Malissa*

      Well I would use the time to figure out where the new boss sees me going and what they would like to accomplish in general. Also this is a great opportunity to show the new boss all of the good stuff you do. Think of it as part self review and part getting to know the new boss.

    2. Mike C.*

      Talk to your current boss, saying that “hey, you’ve only been with us a short while, what’s the best way I can show you what I’ve been working on?” Then do that.

    3. COT*

      If you like your new manager so far, any chance you can do your review with her? If the demoted manager isn’t all that great she probably won’t be an effective ally during this process.

      I assume your review process has a self-evaluation component. Make sure you put a lot of thought into that so that it’s a really good summary of your accomplishments so far. If your forms don’t capture that well, maybe make an “addendum” summary of your own. HR may or may not accept it as part of your official review file, but I bet your boss will appreciate it.

      1. Anonymous*

        I strongly agree with this. Even if your review process doesn’t have a self-eval component do that. Try to document anything you can. Anything you’ve got the numbers for bring those. I brought a stack of that stuff to my meeting (which apparently wasn’t enough but that’s cause I need to badger my boss harder for a raise apparently) and I know it all went into my file at least.

    4. Jamie*

      This is a good chance to get them to sign off on any training you need/want. That’s something people sometimes forget in reviews and if you can get them to commit in a review you can lock stuff in.

    5. KIP*

      I switched bosses throughout this past year and how my evaluation was handled was, the boss that I worked with the longest gave my review.

      However, in your case, I would suggest having all of your bosses comment even if it’s just a few sentences on your evaluation, especially if you did a major project/assignment under one of them.

    6. Jamie*

      I would be irked by being reviewed by someone unfamiliar with my work.

      I mean you wouldn’t recap a show without watching it, review a restaurant without trying the food…write a book review without reading the book.

      That said, I think there is tremendous value in a sit down with the new director and mapping out a plan going forward to make sure everyone is on the same page…but calling it a review would feel disingenuous to me as unless there is written documentation about issues from the previous boss (rare even when there are issues, IME) I’m not sure what she’s qualified to review.

  20. Natalie*

    Oh, perfect timing!

    I just learned this week that I’ll be traveling to our corporate office for a big conference at the end of February. I’m pretty excited about the conference itself (the goal of this conference is long overdue) but I’m freaking out a bit about business travel, which I’ve never done before. No one else from my office will be going with me.

    If you were an introverted 20-something well acquainted with impostor syndrome, what would you want to know before going on your first ever business trip? No advice too obvious!

    1. Malissa*

      Attend all the conference events. Happy hours, banquets and what not. When you sit down at a table for a meal introduce yourself and let other introduce themselves. Often this will lead to them starting a conversation. Then you can sit back and listen and only join in when you feel like it.

    2. Blinx*

      Congratulations! This does sound exciting. When I attended my first business conference on the other side of the country, I wish I had known that I didn’t have to attend every session. It was 3 or 4 days long, and I was so completely burnt out, it would have been fine to skip something and just take a nap (especially if there are evening receptions to attend) Also, my plane was several hours late taking off getting there, so the only time I had allotted for any site-seeing vanished. Now, I schedule 2 or 3 days of vacation tacked on to the conference. Air fare is paid by the company, and hotels will easily split the room cost between your personal and company credit cards.

      A lot of networking is done around eating — standing in line for buffet meals and getting coffee or snacks. Also, while you’re there, take notes (outlines) on what to report back to your team/boss — ideas to implement, things to research further. And above all, you won’t be the only “newbie” there. Have fun!

      1. Malissa*

        Yes! Skipping an afternoon class for a nap in the hotel is preferable to snoring in the afternoon class.

    3. Jamie*

      Keep your business cards easily accessible – jacket pocket or open pocket of your purse so you aren’t fumbling.

      The ghost of Jamie past who used to do expense reimbursement wishes to remind you to keep your receipts for everything.

      1. Natalie*

        I actually do expense reimbursement now, so I did know that bit.

        Good call on business cards. I have almost never used mine so I probably would have forgotten to bring them.

        1. Amanda*

          Business card tip for networking: keep your business cards in your dominant hand pocket, and keep all the business cards you are given in your non-dominant hand pocket. That way you can quickly reach for your own card and not get it mixed up with another card someone else has given you.

            1. Anonymous*

              Oh, oops, I totally missed your name! Yes, I am a clueless male. Unfortunately the man-purse haven’t really taken off yet. ;)

              1. EM*

                If you’re wearing a blazer, put the business cards in there. Presumably you are keeping your wallet and keys in your trouser pockets.

    4. Jen @ Modernhypatia*

      Hi, from introverted me who is going to two different conferences in March and April, one smaller and one fairly massive.

      – Make sure you get plenty of downtime. Unless it actually is mandatory, don’t feel you need to attend every single session. I do a lot better (especially for multi-day things) if I take a slot off and go find somewhere to read quietly for an hour.

      – If you have choice in what you attend, map stuff out in advance. In a day with 5 schedule slots, I usually aim for 2 things I am absolutely going to, 2 things where I leave a couple of options open depending on mood, and one thing that I might or might not go to, depending on how fried I am.

      – I mostly don’t like the big wide-open social event networking things (and if I go, you are likely to find me in a corner having a conversation with a couple of people, not in the midst). I do much better if people arrange birds-of-a-feather like gatherings, or smaller dinner groups for networking or something like that.

      – Scoping out the conference space the first day for quiet nooks where you can take 10-20 minutes between things helps too.

      – If there’s an exhibit hall, introverted-me prefers going earlier in the morning or during a session when things are less busy.

      – Have a 2 sentence intro to yourself that you like. Mine is roughly: “Hi, I’m Jen, I’m the IT Librarian at a small campus in the University of Maine system. I really liked what you said about X…” and then we’re off and running on other conversation.

      – I also think about the stuff where I can really legitimately say “I have experience with X” and make myself a list, so that I can remind myself of things I might want to bring up. Unusual experience you have is good for this, but so is just plain “I can do this thing.” (I find labelling this list “Awesome stuff other people might be interested in” helps, as does running it by a couple of friends who confirm I’m awesome at that stuff and not everyone is.)

      – Networking is good, but don’t be afraid to go have a meal by yourself, or retreat to your room or whatever as well. Have a brief excuse “Oh, I’d love to, but I really want to have time to think about [thing that just came up] a bit. Catch you later!” or “I’d love to keep chatting, but I promised I’d check in at home.” Reasonable people will get that those things are good too.

      – Big one? Remember that lots of the people you’re talking to (even the ones who seem most together, and most in demand) may have a bunch of the same feelings.

    5. Natalie*

      Ack, I left out something important – this is a an internal conference at our corporate office. Almost everyone there will be from my same company but I’ve never met any of them and only interact with a few of them on a regular basis.

    6. Kate in Scotland*

      First of all, if you are introverted, it is actually great to be going on your own! It might seem a bit awkward meeting people (if you are of the mildly-socially-anxious introvert type like me – not every introvert is!) but they are all there for the same reason, and usually you can spot someone looking similarly awkward who will be easy to talk to.
      The reason I say it’s great to be going on your own is that if you go with someone from your own office, then it’s really hard to get alone time at travel, meals, etc. Not impossible… depends on the colleague of course. But I find that if I am meeting new people all day I need the downtime, especially during travel. So I much prefer to travel on my own, then I have full control of my plans and can adapt as needed. And as others said, scope out some quiet corners.
      Also, I have found that at things like that, it is just great to meet other people from elsewhere in the company, especially if they are your direct counterparts, so enjoy it!

      1. Blinx*

        The other advantage to going alone, is that it pretty much forces you to network. If I go to conferences with my colleagues, we usually have a great time socializing/chatting with each other, but spend little time meeting new people.

  21. Joey*

    Alright so I’ve got something to talk about that’s a little political. Does being a manager make you adopt more conservative political views?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it gives you a pretty solid understanding of why having an abundance of regulations governing how you manage employees is not helpful, in a way that can be harder to fully get if you don’t have much experience managing.

      I certainly don’t think it gives you more conservative views on social issues, but on government regulation? Oh yes.

      1. Joey*

        Yeah it’s interesting how being in management can push you to the right on business and employment related issues. I always wonder if it has more to do with employment status than education or money.

      2. Jamie*

        I’m pretty liberal socially but very fiscally and in a regulation sense conservative – and being in management only reinforced that.

        I’ve worked with a lot of people, way past entry level, who think raises, bonuses…name your perk are all about what management does and doesn’t want like there is an endless bucket of money. In reality there is only so much money and allocations have to be made with the best interest of the business in mind.

        It’s the same for the government spending – a lot of things would be nice but money comes from somewhere and so it’s more about making sure it’s allocated properly because budgets should mean something.

        The same for regulations – I don’t want the government forcing us to do something that doesn’t make sense for our business or employees just because someone in another business filed a lawsuit about something.

        1. -X-*

          “The same for regulations – I don’t want the government forcing us to do something that doesn’t make sense for our business or employees just because someone in another business filed a lawsuit about something.”

          Really? So, say, because your company treats women or the elderly or disabled people right, there should’t be laws to protect their rights in general? Just leave it up to your company since you’re doing the right thing anyway?

          Not good.

          1. Colette*

            That’s an extreme example.

            What about exempt vs. non-exempt? If it makes sense for the business and the employee to allow the employee to bank hours so that they get paid for a company shutdown that would otherwise be unpaid, should they be allowed to do so? My understanding is that US law says they can’t – they have to be paid overtime instead.

            There are hundreds of laws that can make life difficult for businesses and employees that have nothing to do with human rights.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Exactly. It’s not that ALL laws are over-reaching; it’s that some of them are. Some of them make it much harder to effectively manage people and businesses, and some of them force businesses to spend large sums of money defending themselves from things that they really shouldn’t be in court over. (And some, like the exempt/non-exempt thing, that made sense at one point are rooted in earlier norms for workplaces and don’t always make sense anymore.)

              It’s not all or nothing.

            2. Jamie*

              This is a great example. I work in manufacturing and I absolutely know people who would love to be able to bank OT so they had come time at shut down – but we have to say no because it’s illegal.

              1. -X-*

                The Jamie, in the future you should qualify statements like the one I quoted above. It was a blanket statement you made.

                I’d add that even if it makes it harder to manage people and businesses in any particular case, laws have to be judged in aggregate, in terms of costa and benefits to society as a whole, over the medium or long-term.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  On the other hand, it means that some people like me will never start businesses that involve employing other people because I have no interest in the government telling me how to manage my own business that I started with my own work and capital. And that’s unfortunate.

                2. K*

                  I don’t know – I’d say whether or not it’s unfortunate depends on what regulations are the deal-killer. As mentioned, yeah, I think a large number of people across the political spectrum agree rules like the exempt vs. non-exempt distinction need to be revised. On the other hand (and yeah, this is an extreme example to make a point), I’m okay with businesses that can’t be profitable enough to survive while paying minimum wage to their employees not existing. And economic indicators, by and large, show that the economy is healthier for those businesses not existing as well.

                  There’s a middle ground and I’m not arguing that we are at the ideal balance in our society, but some businesses shouldn’t exist because they can’t be profitable while treating their employees decently or paying someone to deal with ensuring compliance with important regulations or manufacturing safe products or not dumping toxic chemicals in the municipal water supply or any number of other things. I don’t think “regulation decreases the number of businesses” is a particularly good argument in and of itself. (Which is a different argument than saying certain regulations are disproportionately onerous for small business owners, for instance.)

            3. K*

              I don’t know if I agree that support for those laws fall on a traditional liberal/conservative divide though. I’m supportive of even fairly onerous regulations that protects employees generally; your example, though, seems to me an example of a place where the government could continue to regulate but draft those regulations more effectively. That’s not a conservative position; that’s a position in favor of administrative efficiency (and, honestly, I think of lot of these types of regulations are due to a particular type of bureaucratic ossification that protects the status quo, whatever it happens to be, and affects people across the political spectrum).

              1. Mints*

                Yes, this. Wanting government to be more effective is not a liberal/conservative issue. Everyone wants government’s money to be spent well, and for regulation to be logical.

          2. Jamie*

            I never meant to infer that I thought all regulations were specious – of course some protections are necessary.

            I was making a general comment because some people, when something bad happens, want to know if there’s a law against bad thing or we should outlaw bad thing – and that can cause unintended ripple effects with unnecessary legislation.

      3. GeekChic*

        I was a manager for 10 years in multiple countries and it has actually made *more* appreciative of a number of regulations. The same is true for my Dad (senior manager then president of an oil company).

        Why? Because we’ve seen that the free market actually doesn’t fix much and because really shitty managers can do so much damage that there actually *should* be a law (why the notion of at will makes both of us ill).

  22. Work It*

    Topic: Daycare costs make it very difficult for me to find another job I can afford and my current job is in danger.

    I currently work at home, with one kid here and another in daycare. I’m looking for another job because I’m beyond burnt out and the company shows signs of failing (late payroll, lots of layoffs, etc). However, I’d have to earn AT LEAST $10,000 more a year to afford two kids in daycare and still have a small amount of money leftover. Obviously, that’s not easy to do. I feel so trapped! Anyone else out there have advice? Encouragement? How do families do it? My kids are quite young, one and two. That’s what I get, I guess.

    1. Joey*

      Look at big companies who are more likely to offer a dependent care FSA. This is a pretax benefit that you can use for qualified daycare expenses. Basically you can pay for daycare before your wages are taxed with ss, FICA, SUTA, FUTA

    2. Natalie*

      Are there any big corporations based in your area that might have childcare as part of the benefit package? That might be a good place to start looking for openings.

      It might be worth laying the ground work for your own safety net should you be laid off or end up with another job that doesn’t provide child care. That could include researching any state programs for childcare help, checking in with anyone in your support network that could possibly help with childcare, saving anything you can (even a little bit!) and so forth.

      1. Work It*

        There’s a couple that offer discounted daycare. I’ll have to keep up with their listings. Thanks for the advice! I had no idea before I had kids that monthly daycare costs can equal or exceed a mortgage! Makes me wonder where all my money went pre-kids.

          1. Toast*

            $14,000 for two? That’s a steal. Try $13,200 for one. I wish we can afford another one right now. As it is, we might be forced to be ‘one and done’ unless we somehow manage to land a windfall.

    3. J.B.*

      Is your kid in a center or home day care? Home day cares (many of which are licensed in my state) can be substantially less expensive. You would have to do a lot of interviews to find the right one for you, but that is an option. Or nontraditional hours.

      1. Kristen*

        I second this. Or do you know a stay-at-home-mom who might be willing to babysit one of your kids for a much lower rate than a daycare? My boyfriend’s mom was a “nanny” for a friend’s daughter once he and his brothers were in school, and she really enjoyed doing it–she was still able to run errands and stay home, but able to make a little money as well. Finding someone like that might work perfectly for you.

          1. Elizabeth*

            In my state, that’s a guarantee of getting your day care a visit from the state agency that licenses them.

    4. EM*

      Have you priced out daycare for two? I understand that most places have a sibling discount, so you don’t pay twice as much for one for two, if that makes sense. Also look into any state assistance for child care at your income level that you may be eligible for. Being a working parent, especially when your kids are small, is really tough!

  23. Farah :)*

    Hi Alison :) First, I would like to say that I love your website! I’m majoring in Human Resources Management, and I love the info I get from here. I also love how you like to help everyone in solving their work issues. For a student, what advice you can give me before I head into the real world? What do you think of nepotism when choosing candidates? does it has any effects?(I think not, but it’s increasing these day).

    1. Joey*

      Try to get HR experience at a variety of companies. The issues you’ll deal with are night and day between small, large, public, non profit, private, white collar, blue collar, local, global, etc. if you want to progress variety will be invaluable.

      No to nepotism- it may sound good, but even if it works (and it rarely does) there are always going to be perception issues.

      1. Farah :)*

        Thank you Joey for your advice. And I will follow it like you said. I just feel like nepotism is everywhere, you know, and it’s kind of worrying. I hope I won’t encounter it. Thanks again, and have a nice day! :)

  24. anon in tejas*

    I’m a relatively new reader, and I would like some feedback on this situation.

    I am new(ish) at my job (been here about 7 months). I am still getting to know my co-workers and the office dynamics. I get along with all my coworkers to varying degrees. There are one or two that I’d rather go to lunch with than the rest, but I suppose that is to be expected.

    One of the co-workers (G) has an office next to mine. We touch base daily, and we have a friendly rapport. G is a bit of a gossip. She’ll spread office gossip, rumors, and bad talk other co-workers and our supervisors. She won’t say anything super mean, but she’ll voice frustration at covering a co-workers job duties/responsibilities if someone is out sick or when someone was on maternity leave (3+ years ago– she won’t let it go) or that a coworker is getting preferential treatment. She also has a tendency to bad-talk the supervisor when the supervisor is not there.

    I don’t know how to respond to these comments when they come up in conversation. It leaves me feeling awkward. Otherwise I really like her, and we have some interests outside of work in common. I just don’t know how or whether to address these comments or to just not address them at all. Also, I am now a bit worried about what G may be saying about me, or when she has to cover if I’m sick or something. Suggestions?

    1. KimmieSue*

      The next time “G” says something that makes you uncomfortable, a simple “G, I’m sure you are probably not aware of it, but when you make comments like that, I feel uncomfortable and am not sure how to respond. Perhaps you can talk to “X” about how you are feeling?”
      Right then and right there.

    2. Natalie*

      If G does this all the time, I wouldn’t worry too much about her snarking about you if you’re sick – just accept that she is doing it, the behavior is about her and her issues, and your co-workers know her personality and are unlikely to be judging you for being sick.

      When I had a super negative boss, I used to respond to her snarking with validation and some kind of positive phrase. Example: “Yes, that was pretty tough when Jane was out on maternity. But it’s nice to work for a company that provides good leave.” and then I redirected the conversation. I don’t think this ever helped my old boss (she is still super negative) but it helped me not get pulled into her negative, snarky vortex.

    3. some1*

      First of all, yes, I would assume G badmouths you when you are not around if she does it to pretty much everyone else.

      As for what to say when she badmouths your co-workers or gossips, I would first try just changing the subject whenever she does it.

    4. Wilton Businessman*

      If she’s saying things behind other’s backs, she’s saying it behind yours. That’s the office gossip.

      G thinks that spreading other people’s business is her business. That’s why everybody likes her. She’s friendly by nature and happy to talk to anybody that will listen.

      Realize that she’s not going to stop. If the gossip makes you uncomfortable, just say “I don’t feel comfortable talking about X’s personal life”. Of course, you always run the risk of becoming the target of G’s gossip, so you will have to take that into consideration. If you don’t address them, you are party to the gossip.

      Understand also, that everybody complains about their boss at one time or another. We don’t always understand why things are being done and they may not make sense to us, but sometimes there is another reason. You will get that in any environment, some more than others.

    5. Malissa*

      I don’t know that you can change this kind of behavior. My most effective technique to quell it a bit is to just ignore the person when they go negative. They are looking for some sort of reinforcement and it’s imperative that you don’t provide it if you don’t want to hear it in the future.
      Given that most of this happens at work and you aren’t this persons manager, can you talk to the manager? I recently went to my boss about one coworker because she was just so negative about another coworker and all of my techniques for handling were just falling flat. I don’t know (or really care) what the boss said, but work has been 10 times more pleasant. I framed the problem in a window of, when A does this B likes to join in and then the whole office gets tense and miserable.

  25. Anonymous*

    I’m in a bit of an awkward situation.

    Recently, a few of my coworkers found out that I’m living in an abusive situation with my family. During my lunch break, my mom was hollering at me and threatened to cut me off from everything if I didn’t give her $150 that I didn’t have and was verbally and emotionally abusing me. I started crying and I confided in two of my coworkers about what’s going on. They’ve been great and they’ve been supportive and understanding.

    The problem is one of my other co-workers is the office gossip and she always butts into private conversations and will put in her input and advice when she wasn’t even asked. When she heard that I was in a not-so-good environment at home by overhearing our conversation, she started telling me what I was going to do and she was not going to take “no” for an answer.

    For example, she called a friend of hers that’s the head of the domestic violence project in our county and she gave me her number. That’s fine and good and I thanked her for it. But after she got off the phone, she said, “You’re going to call her right this minute and talk to her.” Since my lunch break was almost over, I couldn’t call her until after work. But she would not hear it. She yelled at me to do it. So I did and I find out that nobody’s there because it’s an in-service day and nobody was there. She then calls her friend back and she tells me, “you are to report to the domestic abuse building at 8:30 am on the dot tomorrow! Do you understand me?” I told her I understood, but I was incredibly put off by her behavior and patronizing attitude.

    Since that incident, she will constantly ask me if I did what she told me. I told her that I will make the right decision for myself and I appreciate her help, but she continues to pile on me. I don’t want to be a jerk and tell her that she’s being overbearing because she’s also known for spreading nasty gossip about people that wrong her. As I am a temporary worker, I don’t want to jeopardize my job nor have my reputation ruined.

    How can I handle this situation? I’m so very lost.

    1. Elizabeth*

      Depending on how your relationship is with this person, I’d recommend simply saying that you appreciate the advice and will take action on the situation, but please let you handle things from here. If she keeps trying to push you, just tell her that you appreciate her concern but you need to do this yourself.

      Hang in there, and lean on your friends and coworkers for support and help :)

    2. Wilton Businessman*

      Or maybe you need someone to give you that push to start solving some problems in your life.

      1. Anonymous*

        I already get that push from my friends and boyfriend, so I don’t need other people to do it for me.

        It’s a very tricky situation that I really want to remove myself from as soon as possible, but can’t because I need to have things in place to make sure I can make it.

      2. Anon*

        But that someone doesn’t need to be this nosy women inserting herself into conversations she wasn’t a part of.

        Believe me, this woman isn’t doing all this for the OP – she is getting something personal out of this. Personal and unhealthy, really. When you think about it, she knows even less about what happened than WE do. No one was talking to her.

        1. Anonymous*

          OP here

          Thank you! I was JUST thinking about that, actually! I think she had a very abusive marriage or relationship in her past and she’s putting her personal feelings into this. I guess she wants me to take action instead of waiting, but she has to realize that I will do what’s right for me.

          I am taking action into leaving as soon as I can and trying to save money (which is the biggest reason, besides finding a permanent job and affording rent and student loans, holding me back from making the jump), but she’s getting too involved in my business and she’s not making it easier for me. She cannot pressure me to make rash decisions. Abuse victims have to be ready to leave and I’m getting there, but I still got a way to go.

          1. Waiting Patiently*

            Yep, it sounded like this was a sore spot for her. But no matter how good her intentions seem “your issues aren’t her issues”.
            Best of luck to you!

      3. Natalie*

        That’s just plain not how domestic abuse works. There’s approximately 1 gajillion resources online if you’d like to learn more about what is actually helpful for people in abusive situations.

    3. Natalie*

      Wow, so your c0-worker is going to help you get out of an abusive situation… by being verbally abusive and bullying? What a lovely person!

      This sounds really terrible. Since you’re a temp, is there a rep at the temp agency you could talk to?

      1. Anonymous*

        I’m not with a temp agency. I was hired for a temporary position through the hiring department when I was doing an internship this past summer. They needed someone to work in this department and I got the position as a temporary assignment until my boss doesn’t need my help anymore.

        1. Natalie*

          Ah, rats.

          For whatever it’s worth, (assuming you’re in the US) your job isn’t any less secure because the company has marked it as temporary. Being marked as “permanent” internally doesn’t give you any more protection against being fired at will.

          Is there a domestic violence or similar organization in your area that offer support groups or sliding scale/free counseling? Having someone to talk to about this on a regular basis may be helpful generally and in the immediate term, you can work on ways to handle this co-worker.

          1. Anon+1*

            A couple of thoughts:
            – a counsellor or domestic violence organization might be able to direct you towards resources that could help you to get out sooner
            – they should also be able to advise you on steps to take to protect yourself from financial abuse and secure your accounts, identity, and credit.

    4. Anon*

      All this in response to a conversation that she overheard? Meaning, you weren’t talking to her, you were talking to someone else and she heard bits and pieces of your conversation WITH SOMEONE ELSE.

      I would tell her politely and FIRMLY that you will handle it and that it has been taken care of. Look her in the eye and be firm about this. I guess she means well…But I don’t think she is being very nice or helpful to you at all. If she keeps bringing this up, tell her you don’t feel comfortable discussing this and won’t discuss it further with her. BE FIRM.

      Also, you aren’t being a jerk when you have to be firm with boundary crossers. Which she is. She is making you be a jerk sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong.

      And I know you were caught vulnerable and on a bad day, and I am very sorry for what you are going through. But you have to be very careful about telling people personal stuff at work. Incidents like this are one of the many reasons why. Even the people you confided in, they may be good people, maybe not. How well do you really know them to tell them personal family business?

      In the meantime, I hope things get worked out for you at home. I really do.

    5. Malissa*

      I’d ask the person if she really thinks the best way to help you is to also be borderline abusive. Seriously if somebody is so close to the edge that kind of behavior is going to push them right on over. Now they have two people yelling at them about what they should be doing. But chances are this is way too confrontational for an abused person in the situation.
      So when you talk to this persons friend, ask them to help council your coworker about appropriate boundaries when dealing with an issue like this.
      Just know you’ll have lots of positive thoughts behind you in this situation. Mine included.

    6. KellyK*

      Wow, that’s crappy. I don’t have anything to add other than what other people have said, but wanted to say it’s good that you know the situation is abusive and are making plans to leave. It’s really easy for someone outside the situation to armchair quarterback someone else’s life and say “Just leave,” but it’s not always that simple. And really, unless she’s offering you a place to stay, it isn’t her place to push.

    7. Anonymous*

      I think that what might be helpful is to write down (you can steal this from a website on how to cope with this, or have your friends/boyfriend/supportive people help you write it) and hand it to her and walk away.

      Something along the lines of I know you are trying to help because you care and are concerned about me but what I need is gentle support and understanding. If you can ask if I need any help and be genuinely ready to help or not help based on what I say at that time I would be grateful. If you can not ask me what I have done and not give me any demands or deadlines it will be much easier for me to work to get out of this situation. Demands and deadlines for my personal situation only create more difficulties for removing myself from the situation.

      (You will find something much better on a domestic violence support site. I don’t think pointing out to her, hey you are being bullying and abusive and it is triggering all the bad and stress I have from the situation I am in is just going to make her rage that she’s not like that and how could you say that…)

    8. Melanie*

      That really sucks that you are in a crappy situation at home. Good for you that you are trying to make a change. It so strange that this woman is so persistent in telling you to get help, maybe she’s known of someone or she herself has been in a similar situation.

      My suggestions is to pull her aside privately and let her know that you are taking steps to get yourself out of the situation, that you appreciate her advice but that you’d rather not talk about it with her any longer. It has nothing to do with your job so she doesn’t have the right to force you to do anything.

    9. Rana*

      I suggest checking out Captain Awkward. Tons of good advice there for dealing with abusive people (including family), obnoxious co-workers, and people who get up in your business generally. And a really supportive community, too.

      What this woman is doing to you is so Not Okay, regardless of her intentions.

    10. Waiting Patiently*

      What type of relationship do you have with your manager? If you feel comfortable that he/she will understand your situation then clue them in to what is going on because you don’t want to lose your job. Your manager might can assist in helping you deal with the pushy co-worker esp if she is doing this to you while youre working. Second, don’t worry about your reputation you should put emphasis on getting through the situation. Lastly don’t be afraid to simply tell her to back off that she is only complicating the matter with her pushiness.

    11. Laura L*

      It sounds like she’s being abusive as well. Which, WTF? You don’t act abusive toward someone who is already being abused.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      You might want to check out a book, when you have time:
      “When you and your mother cannot be friends” by Victoria Secunda. I don’t agree with every single thing the author says but the book has lots of stuff to think about and consider.
      In her book, she talks about how the relationship with our mothers spills over into our work place relationships. She kind of connects the dots.
      This gossip is a bully, although she may have been abused at one time, she has turned herself into an abuser. It is good you understand why she is the way she is- but that does not make her behavior okay. As you are saying, you must progress at your own pace, not hers. Her ongoing comments/marching orders about your personal life are not appropriate in the work place at all. Perhaps you can find someone- a manager, an HR person, etc – who will help this woman to understand that she herself is creating a negative work environment for you. Her reputation as a gossip can mean she is actually a toxic person.
      Truth be told, her threats are no different than your mother’s threats. Both are threats to perform a certian action by a certian time. You need space to find your own mind and your own thoughts. Perhaps there is EAP available where you work?
      Maybe there is a church near you that would help you with some of the personal life stuff, too. Sometimes churches have ties to free counseling services. You don’t have to join the church to get the free counseling.

      My thoughts go out to you… take care of you.

  26. Clerk I*

    I’ve worked for about 5 years as a Clerk I in a community college system. I work in academic support, and my department refers to my position as support staff which is basically what I do. I answer phones and transfer lines, schedule appointments, answer student questions about anything related to attending community college or academics, provide basic tutoring when there isn’t a tutor available, and sometimes counsel students if there is no one available to do so. Almost none of this is in my job description. My job description basically states my responsibilities are to answer phones, file, and monitor students, the extra responsibilities are due to budget cuts.

    Also, under a different supervisor I was trained to be able to read documentation that students provide to support their need for accommodations and to write the plans for them. It is my understanding that this shouldn’t have happened and could have resulted in our college being sued.

    The problem is that this job is a dead end. I’m only allowed to work 25 hrs a week, and my hours are always at risk of being cut. I proctor the placement testing to increase my pay, but I’m still not making ends meet. I’m wondering how I can show all of the experience that I do have, when I’m sending in my materials to apply for a job. I need a break from working in the college system, and I am finishing a 4 year degree in psychology, but plan to continue my education.

    1. Joey*

      List your real job title and the actual duties you performed or perform on your résumé and applications. I would recommend applying to other bureaucratic places like govt offices, school districts, etc. bureaucratic places know not everyone can handle the environment so they love previous experience. And unless its asked specifically you don’t need to mention that you are part time.

      1. kbeers0su*

        + 1
        I also work at a university and find myself in a very similar situation. My job description doesn’t include half of the things that I actually do in my daily work, but I have all of the things I actually do on my resume. My supervisor is aware of the extra responsibilities that I’ve taken on, so I know that he isn’t going to balk when he’s acting as my reference and sees these things on my resume. Perhaps that’s the key when you’re putting together your resume- check in with your supervisor/reference and make sure he/she is ok with you putting all of your responsibilities on your resume and will support you in that.

        1. Clerk I*

          The problem is, my supervisor/Department Head, isn’t willing to give me up. I am well known on campus as someone that can get work done in a quick amount of time, and can handle ridiculous workloads, which is how Admissions was able to scoop me up to proctor their placement exams, which I can only do on my own time. The President of the college had asked me to do some extra work in order to relieve one of the Admin Assistants, during a period where I wasn’t doing anything at work except browsing the internet, and my supervisor was livid when she found out about it.

          She keeps saying that she knows that I need the money, I was homeless for about the first six months working under her, but that she wants me there for the long haul. I have loads of freedom and can basically write my own schedule, but having to work 12+ hr days with one meal break (reg schedule + contracted work), is not something that I can do anymore.

  27. F*

    Any advice for making the jump from food service/retail to a “real job?” I’m several years post college and have been working in menial jobs since. I worked for 9 months in an office for a family member, doing basic office work and a research project but it was a temp thing and it ended. I did only one internship in college, at the end, in an industry I’m not necessarily interested in pursuing. I know that this was not smart in the long run but there’s nothing to be done about it at this point. All of my other experience is in restaurants and coffee shops. I’d really like to get a real job but I’m not really even sure what industry I’d like to be in–I majored in a social science in college and I’m interested in a lot of things but bad at narrowing things down. I think maybe I’d like to work in politics but I know that that’s an industry that’s unusually skewed toward “who you know” and I don’t know anyone. I know I’m smart and capable but I don’t know how to get in the door–and at this point, I’m worried that so many years of waiting tables reflects badly on me.

    1. some1*

      I worked in retail for 4-5 years and made the jump to admin work by going through a temp agency which assigned me to a receptionist job in a govt office. They ended up hiring me as a full-time employee. Temp agencies are great for entry-level employees or people who don’t have the best work history, because the client (hopefully) hires you based on how you have done with them.

      As for politics, I would start as volunteer for officials or orgs you want to work for. They always need them, and while it may not lead to a paid position, you can network which may get you a job you want down the road.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      The temp suggestion is a good one–a staffing coordinator may have some suggestions for you. Start thinking also about transferable skills. What did you do at these jobs, and including the office work you have done and the internship, that will also help you at an office job? For example, customer service is a big one in reception work. Did you answer the phone? Did you do any filing, or help your manager with administrative tasks?

      I made this transition too, and it can be done. Good luck!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I really got help when I started volunteering. Chose the groups and the work you do wisely, with forethought. I tend to like groups that are off the beaten path. I have met mayors and state congress people though these groups.

      I tend to do the stuff that no one else wants to do- that helps me to carve out a niche for myself. People are relieved that “someone” is handling X, Y, or Z. And I am meeting new people. Of the new people, I picked a couple of thoughtful types and said “Gee, I am looking to change career direction. If you hear of something please let me know.” It took time- but slowly the tips started coming.

  28. Elizabeth*

    I work in an industry that is pretty tightly knit. I have close colleagues at hospitals that use the same health information system, along with close colleagues at a number of the vendors who provide services & products for our industry with whom I’ve worked for close to 20 years. A couple of them are actually close friends with whom I exchange personal emails on a regular basis and get announcements of new babies and college graduations.

    I’m not currently looking for a new job. I like where I’m at, and what it would take for me to decide I need to seriously look for another job is something on the scale of Marvin the Martian’s “Earthshattering KABOOM”. I know I can count on excellent references from my last 3 supervisors should I decide I need to go elsewhere, including my current boss, who thinks I virtually walk on water.

    Would it be acceptable to ask the vendor colleagues, some of whom have known me & worked with me longer than the 3 supervisors combined, for references in the event I find myself needing to move on?

    1. Joey*

      My wife works in the hospital environment and it’s notoriously gossipy. It’s fine to ask vendors for to be references just make sure you trust the person not to blab.

    2. some1*

      I think it would be acceptable to use vendors as references, as long as you make it clear to any potential employers.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I used our printer cartridge guy, because I worked closely with him and his employees. It was my responsibility to deal with them. So far no one has called him but I’m sure NewJob will check the references I put down. I already contacted them and told them it might, back when we were advised to do that in another post.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I used a vendor as a reference, too. But we went over what he would be saying to the employer. To put it in general terms he would be talking about my work ethic and my accuracy. In other words his comments would be specific enough to give the employer an idea of what kind of a worker I am.

  29. some1*

    I started my current position 10 months ago. I technically have a counterpart, however, that position is many more tasks and responsibilities and is considered more senior. My counterpart got an internal transfer, and for a number of reasons, I don’t want to apply for it. I feel like I am still learning my current role, and don’t wish to take on the responsibilities of that position, plus, that position is really an Executive Assistant, and while I have an admin background I have never been an EA or equivalent.

    However, and I know this might seem weird, I’m wondering if I don’t apply for that position I will look unmotivated or lazy. That position would be a natural next step in many ways, but I’m pretty content at this time.

    1. COT*

      It’s perfectly reasonable not to seek a promotion for all of the reasons you gave. If asked, explain it as: “I am still learning a lot in my current role, and I’d like to spend some more time in it before making a move. This is a great fit for my skills right now.” That frames you as thoughtful, self-aware, and eager to learn.

      Try not to say, “I don’t want the extra responsibility” or “I don’t think I’d be good at it” unless you have a really honest, good relationship with your boss. By talking about it in a more positive light, you’re leaving the door open if you do want the added challenge in the future.

      And who knows–it’s possible that they’re not even expecting you to apply for the job if they can see that you are still growing into your current role.

  30. Vivian*

    Hello everyone!

    I work for a mid size company as “HR Assistant” and the quotation marks are because I am doing everything else and HR, I’m in the front desk, assist with accounts payables, quality assurance, and inspection. I take care of all new hire paperwork, job verifications and benefits reconciliations. I’ve been here for six months and it’s my first real job in HR but the pay I feel is for the receptionist part of my job only plus the company’s culture and ethics are nowhere to be found. I just started my MSHR and I am really in love with my career choice. My question is, is it too early to start applying to other more serious companies with only six months worth of resume experience? I have about 9 years of managerial experience (retail management) any suggestions or comments are great help! HAPPY FRIDAY!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      IMO, I’d stick it out a while longer. Your job sounds like one of the consolidated ones the recession has spawned–front desk, but also does everything else. But if you’re actually doing HR stuff, and you want to move into that field, you’d be wise to get as much experience as you can out of your first role.

    2. Joey*

      Not yet. Wait at least until the 1 yr mark. If I saw your résumé right now I would wonder if there was some negative issue that’s making you want to leave your first “real” HR job so soon.

    3. Melanie*

      Do you know what type performance evaluation system they have in place? I would have a discussion with your manager to see whether salary advancement is an option in your career path within the company. It could be that they start off at a lower salary to make sure you can handle/learn everything and then bump you up at a certain period of time.

  31. Piper*

    So, along the lines of title changes/inaccurate titles (as discussed in the previous Fast Answer Friday post)…I just found out, not even an hour after posting in that thread, that our entire department has been restructured and I’ve been moved into a new role on a new team but my title is staying the same (for now).

    My current title is so wildly far from this new role that it’s going to be extremely misleading (think – actual title: copywriter, new (actual) role: market researcher – it’s that different). I suppose I’ll still employ the same tactic as before – listing Copywriter (Market Researcher) on my resume/linkedin, but these roles are so, so, so different that it’s going to look suspicious.

    Any thoughts on how to handle this one? I’m not even going to be doing anything related to the old title at all whereas before, I was.

    1. Piper*

      I should note, the titles I used were not my actual title/job, but close examples of how different my actual title/job are.

    2. Jamie*

      Is there a reason they want the titles to be inaccurate? Some big bureaucracies may need a certain percentage of people in the copywriter bucket, even though that isn’t what you’re doing.

      If not, I would talk to your boss and present it as a benefit for the company to have accurate titles reflecting your real role – so as not to cause confusion with external contacts.

      Sure, internally you can be Piper who does that market stuff – but when you’re dealing with the outside it’s a hindrance the way they have it.

      1. Piper*

        I think it’s because of corporate red tape, to be honest. HR is notoriously difficult at my company, so instead of officially promoting me (with the title and the raise), they just do it on the org chart. Which…sucks. I mean, I’m glad for the new role and such, but I don’t work out of the goodness of my heart and it’s not a privilege to be promoted. I worked hard and I earned it. I’d like the full package, title, pay, and responsibilities.

      2. Piper*

        And yeah, the outside it what I’m concerned about because I’m looking for a new job right now (we’re relocating) and I have about 5 recruiters a day contact me about jobs for the wrong title. I want to continue in the path I’m in, with the new type of job, but recruiters are not going to find me or will think I’m lying/look suspicious if I use my usual parenthetical method.

        On a side note, what is the problem with companies not giving accurate titles or trying to be creative with them? This is the third time this has happened to me (although this time is the most extreme).

        1. Aaron*

          If you are looking right now, I’d do the parenthetical thing, and explain that you recently took on this role and because of red tape your title has not yet changed. That’s harder to do if you claim to have been doing the unrelated job for years and years, but the way you described it here sounds logical to me.

    3. Jane Doe*

      I’d talk to your manager and to HR about it. Your reasoning can be that it’s confusing to other people (either internal or external, depending on your role) when you have a title that doesn’t reflect what you do. This is especially true if you are in a big organization where people might try to find resources by looking in an Outlook contact list or on an org chart.

  32. Anna*

    My question is about negotiating the terms when a job offer has been made. I have seen much great advice about negotiating – generally asking for a little more will often result in a yes, and if you decide not to negotiate, the hiring manager may or may not thing anything about it. Got it.

    In my situation, the hiring manager was initially a man I worked with on a project – I did alot of work for him I was not required to do and he has been very generous with the thanks and praise. We continue to work together on small projects and know each other fairly well, and are friendly, but only in a business context. Now that I have applied for 2 positions he recently posted, and he has said I will be interviewed for both, and he said he hopes I will accept one of them. These are positions I am generally qualified for, but outside my current field of experience.

    So, negotiating… would it be insulting to him, after all his help getting me into a field I have needed help entering, etc. to ask him for MORE money in his offer? I would absolutely negotiate with any other hiring manager interviewing/offering… but here I am very concious of damaging the relationship, or being seen as niave or risking the offer or my reputation. He is senior to me and I value him immensely!

    I value your thoughts, readers!

    1. Aaron*

      Depends on the offer. If you get an offer that is low (based on your research of similar jobs in the area and honest analysis of what you bring to the table), he’s not going to be offended if you say something nicely. If he offers you a great salary and you try to negotiate just because you “always negotiate,” it might rub him the wrong way. If the offer’s in the middle, he shouldn’t be offended, but there’s always a possibility he will be.

      (What I’d say: “Thanks again for the offer! I really enjoy working with you. To be honest, I was expecting a salary more like $X, based on my research, because blah blah blah, and I was wondering if there’s any way to adjust the offer?”)

    2. Malissa*

      Actually you have more than enough reasons to ask for a higher salary—he already wants you. Your track record is already established. Also keep in mind that his first offer may be more generous than you figured.

      1. Anna*

        Aaron & Malissa thank you both! It’s very helpful to think on. Yes, that salary research again… :)

        1. Anna (a different one)*

          I’m starting to think I should have gone by First Middle, rather than just First.

          Though on second thought, we might share a middle name, too.

    3. Melanie*

      I would start by researching what industry standard is for that position. If it’s below industry standard you could inform him that through you research, you feel it is below industry standard and ask if goals to be written into your offer letter. Since you are new to the field, this gives him the assurance that he’s not just taking a risk in paying you more because he likes you/because he’s worked with you before but that he’ll pay you more based on the skills you learn. Not sure if this is something you’d be comfortable with but it would be an option!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Good advice, Melanie. Anna, am not clear – I think you have an idea for a range of pay for the jobs.
        Know the going rate for this new work. Barest minimum ask him why he chose this range of pay. That will give him the opportunity to explain if the company will not let him offer more.
        If you feel the conversation is going well, remind him that he knows your work and ask him what are the chances of doing a bit better on the offer?
        Have your ducks in a row. He can use your explanation to tell his boss why you are worth more. “I have worked here x time, I have done A, B, and C. I have demonstrated abilities to do this, that and the next thing. (Etc.)”

  33. Anonymous*

    I’d like to throw this question open to everyone with advice/ideas:
    What are some jobs I could start within the next 2 months, that would likely offer a living wage ($10+/hrly) and healthcare?

    Here’s the tricky part, I’m only self taught on internet searching, and Word, have a general studies 2yr degree, and an undiagnosed problem with my neck/hands/arms that limits me to three hours solid typing daily and lifting no more than apx eight pounds.

    I have a part time job as a “front desk coordinator/receptionist,” and am open to more office work. Most descriptions of this sort of job ask for more computer training/leave the amount of typing open to guess. I’m open to learning Dragon, but have never seen it (don’t know if jobs provide this, or I need to bring it in with me). I love to learn generally, and like to lend an extra hand. In fact, I like to trouble-shoot and show people how to do new things for themselves.

    What jobs have you done or seen that my hands would not prevent me from trying? What are the jobs that go on inside companies–where I haven’t seen/heard of them– that you guys see?

    What do you think?

    1. F*

      Starbucks? No, really. If you only need to make $10/hr, you would do that at most Starbucks, including tips. And you can get health insurance after 3 months of 20 hours/week average. Not ideal but on short notice….

      1. Anonymous*

        It’s near impossible to get a job working at Starbucks if you don’t have previous barista experience, so that’s not that reliable.

        I would suggest trying a temp agency, OP. They might be able to help you with finding employment, even though you might not get health insurance. But it’s a place to start.

        Good luck!

        1. F*

          It’s really not impossible to get a job without prior barista experience. In fact, I’d argue they’d prefer you not to have any experience because if you do, you’ll likely have bad habits to kill. And they need to put you through the extensive training anyway. Some customer service type experience is certainly helpful as is convincing the store manager you’re not looking to leave in less than 6 months. But it’s really not that hard.

          1. Natalie*

            “you’ll likely have bad habits to kill.”

            The indie coffee people I know would say it’s the other way around. :)

            1. F*

              Doubtless. And they’d both be right. Starbucks just has a very specific way they like things to be done.

          2. Al Lo*

            Agreed. I worked at Starbucks through grad school and part-time while doing contract work in my field, and 95% of the people I trained didn’t have experience. Even those who had previously worked for Starbucks and were re-hired had to go through the training program again (if it had been more than a year since they last worked at the company), because certain procedures and recipes had changed.

        2. Victoria Nonprofit*

          That’s not my experience at all. I’ve never worked at Starbucks, but many friends and family members have. None of them have had previous barista experience. Most had extensive retail experience, though.

        3. Clerk I*

          I was actually able to get a job without any experience. They were more than willing to train. The store manager I ended up under in the end (I got hired at a job fair), turned out to be an ass and pretty much never scheduled my training, which I’m pretty sure was because he didn’t like that I could only open, and ended up just not scheduling me after two weeks. He never returned my phone calls.

          But I did like working there. And a lot of people that they did hire didn’t have any experience either. You really just need to really, really like coffee.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        Wouldn’t Starbucks require lifting more than 8 lbs? I know cups of coffee are lightweight, but wouldn’t a person have to move stock occasionally?

    2. Elizabeth West*

      The temp agency may or may not have anything for you, but they may be able to offer an honest assessment of your skills. Really, most people are self-taught in basic computer skills anymore–all they really care about is can you do it, not how you learned it. Here’s a link that can help you brush up/learn new computer stuff–it’s pretty basic, but the e-lessons are helpful.

      I have never seen Dragon at any company I’ve worked at, especially for lower-level employees, so my guess would be you would have to negotiate installing it and you may not be able to do that. But for all the office jobs I’ve had where I had to take a typing test, I rarely did that much typing and certainly not for three hours straight. It sounds like heavy files are going to be your bugbear. I have similar issues–shoulder impingement–and my last job just destroyed me physically that way. Depending on their filing system, it may or may not be a problem.

      You might also see if your area has a state Career Center. They can be a really good resource for job searching, resume workshops, etc. Ours has seminars and workshops all the time. Good luck!!

      1. Michelle.2*

        Thanks Elizabeth,
        This is the kind of insight I am looking for.

        I am already working with the local Career Center. The help services available in my area seem disconnected from the issue of physical limitations. They automatically refer anyone with such questions to Vocational Rehab, but our VR triages applicants, putting all non-Priority One people on a wait list that goes back to 2009! I’m persuing all avenues though.

        The job possibilities I’ve learned of so far are:
        reception/front office
        process operator (trained in house, rare)
        maybe customer service at a high end store
        a call center that focuses on talk, with light typing (I’ve been
        told there are such jobs, but don’t know what industry)
        some kinds of sales (again, not sure what industry) barista/waitress
        quality control at a call center
        I’m starting to think I’d be a good trainer for new hires, but
        know nothing about that sort of career :’)

      2. Michelle.2*

        This is the OP, for some reason I started showing up as Anonymous yesterday. There’s another Michelle who posts, so I’ll be Michelle.2 from now on.

    3. Natalie*

      I have a lot of friends that seem fairly happy at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. The pay is ok and I believe they do offer health care. There are also a couple of high-end grocery chains in my area that pay well and offer healthcare, so if you have local high-end grocers try them as well.

      1. Anonymous*

        Can you be more specific? Which jobs at a grocery store do you think I should consider?

        1. Natalie*

          Anon, I elaborated a little bit on that under Lore’s comment. I’m not exactly sure how much lifting is required at all the various jobs, but it might be worth looking into.

      2. Lore*

        I agree in general, but not being able to lift more than 8 pounds may be a problem with grocery work.

        1. JamieG*

          Yeah, retail/food service in general might not be a good fit if you can’t lift more than 8 lbs.

        2. Natalie*

          Good point, I should have clarified that they are working in the deli/catering and floral areas, not doing any sort of stocking. I’ve also noticed that the cashiers at one mid to high end grocery store in my area never seem to do anything other than cashiering (no stocking, no carryouts, etc).

      3. EM*

        Also note that the CEO of Whole Foods has gone off the deep end regarding Obamacare, so it may not be that awesome of a place to work.

  34. Diane*

    I’ve been looking for a new job for over a year because my current job is killing my soul. When I started, I loved my job. I had clear direction and access to decision makers who gave me the support and resources to do great things. But management changed and no longer responds or consults me, and big multi-million dollar projects just fall apart without their support. I’ve had five managers in almost six years, each time moving farther down the org chart. The newest (after three weeks) is good and well-meaning, but I doubt she’ll have much clout to get me information or direction I need. I worry that my job will deteriorate and disappear–just as they’ve done to others here. And I’ve told my supervisors that I’m concerned about this.

    My problems now are that I’m losing faith in my own ability, though former coworkers and direct reports tell me otherwise. And I’m so discouraged about my career path that I can’t tell if my reluctance to do more of the same somewhere else is about the work itself or just this situation. And I can’t just let go of work problems at the end of the day to enjoy the rest of my life. I still care about doing a great job and making a difference in people’s lives, even though I’m in a system that makes it almost impossible. And I worry that my job will be chipped away even more.

    So in the short term, how do I turn off work brain at 6 pm so I can enjoy the rest of life? And how do I find something better when nothing looks good? I’m volunteering more and trying to focus on hobbies and dreams, but I’m in a career funk.

    1. Colette*

      My advice is to start networking. Talk to your former coworkers. Ask them what they’re doing now, what they liked/disliked/found difficult about moving industries/companies/etc. Ask anyone who currently hires for advice on your resume. Ask them about working where they are now – what’s a typical day like? What do they like about their company? What challenges do they have?

      Obviously, you wouldn’t ask everyone every question, but think about what you can learn from your contacts, and what you can offer to them. Finding out what’s out there will help you figure out what’s important to you in a job, and talking with people who know & respect you professionally will help you remember what you bring to the table.

  35. Stephanie*

    Ok, throwing this out here for any engineers who read this. What are your thoughts on an MS? My degree’s in mechanical engineering, but I’m not working as an engineer at the moment. I’ve been out of school (I have a BSME) about five years now and would like to get back into engineering.

    However, I can barely get a call for any engineering positions (I’ve been aiming at entry-level). My best guess is that a company can find a new grad for maybe a bit cheaper and mold them in from jump (versus someone like me coming in with outside experience).

    So my thinking was that I may need to go back to graduate school to “reset the clock.” Thing is, I’ve heard masters are a mixed bag–companies hire bachelors-level candidates and train them or hire PhDs to do the heavy R&D. Also, funding seems to be all over the place, so there’s a fair chance I’d be paying out of pocket and sacrificing the two to three years’ of income to go back to school.

    I’m definitely still networking and trying some volunteer activities to show my technical skills are still current–I tutor in math/science and help out with a HS robotics team.

    Anyway, any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated! I’m not set either way.

    1. Jubilance*

      In my 7 years in the technical world, I never saw a downside to having an advanced degree. If you’re truly trying to get back into engineering, I think an MS is a good thing. Combined with your 5 years of full-time experience, I think having revelant coursework recently would make you an attractive candidate.

    2. PEBCAK*

      Don’t get the MS without experience in your field. I am on the hiring side of this, and we see MS as “couldn’t get a job out of school” or “wants more money than someone with the BS”. You may have to wait for the economy to pick up before you can get a job in your field, but wait it out in a paying job, not in school.

      The exception would be if you really could find SECURE funding, or if you were going to one of the top, top schools.

    3. Joey*

      I’ve hired PEs and we never cared about masters or PhDs. It was more about having the appropriate state PE, knowledge, accomplishments, and up to date skills in the relevant area of specialty.

      1. Stephanie*

        I should add that I do have my EIT, so I could work my way toward a PE (or sit for the PE exam now if I could convince a state board that what I’ve been doing the past 4-5 years is engineering).

        To add some context to this, I currently work in IP. I thought I wanted to be an IP attorney (I don’t have a JD) and now I want to run away from the field screaming. I do use my degree to some extent as I have to understand the technicality behind the inventions I’m researching, but I wouldn’t call what I’m doing now engineering-related. Some of this is definitely related to the bad economy, so even in engineering where companies bemoan shortages, they can still be picky enough to get new grads or experienced people.

        Funding seems to be all over the place. A couple of friends got their MS completely funded at some of the bigger state schools (one at Georgia Tech, one at UC Berkeley), but yeah, paying out of pocket is a pretty big concern since there’s a fair chance I could borrow more than I’d make my first year out.

        1. Joey*

          You might look at titles that don’t have Engineer in them but prefer some engineering experience. For example I’ve hired Project Managers in an engineering environment that needed engineering knowledge, but didn’t require you to do engineering work. Things like overseeing contracts or contractors, working with consultant engineers. That sort of thing.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      When I hired engineers, it was based on job experience and skills (i.e. knowing a certain software and processes). I don’t think a general Masters is something I’d look for in hiring, but I think if you could decide what you’re looking for and focus on that area in your program, then you might have a better shot at an entry level position in that industry. It would be a way to reset the clock for you, and instead of people wondering why you’re applying *now* they could see that you just finished a MS program, so looking for jobs is logical. You could also try to get an internship through your on-campus recruiting, which might be an easier task than sending online apps for internships as a working adult. I think you have to adjust pay expectations a little when you move backwards in a different area, but you might have better opps long term if that helps you feel better about making the move.

      (FWIW, I had a fully funded offer for a MSME last year at a state school. . .not highly ranked but good regionally. I decided I was too old & making too much to do it, but the money is there, esp. for native English-speaking female MEs. You’re also still young by grad school standards.)

    5. Anonymous*

      I have an uncle who has been in Med Eng for a long time and he’s gotten several advanced degrees which has helped him a lot. But he hasn’t paid for any of them and that seems to be the trend in the places he’s worked as they’ve all paid for those advanced degrees.

      Have you looked at contacting alumni groups from the school where you got your eng deg? (That’s how he does a significant majority of his hiring which is why I suggest it.)

    6. KarenT*

      I wonder if the concern hiring managers have is you having been out of school for long without any engineering experience. In their minds, new grads have the same education as you but their skills are fresher. If that is the case, I think a masters might help, especially if you could find a masters program with a co-op.

      1. Stephanie*

        That’s my best guess–I don’t have directly transferable experience and they can find a new grad who’s used MATLAB within the last year (versus within the last five years).

        I’m thinking if I did go the masters route, a specialized masters would be the best like AnotherAlison suggested (e.g., like in ocean engineering or transportation engineering).

    7. Indica*

      This. Normally i would agree that additional eduction/training is almost never a bad investment. But my sister went through a similar situation but as an electrical engineer. She had an undergrad from a respected school and plenty of decent experience when she decided to tackle graduate school. Granted her company (at the time) helped pay for part of it, but she’s still carrying $60K in debt and no more employable than she was before. I think she was probably more unhappy with her job than anything, and now is still unhappy with her job plus major debt.

      Is there a way to brush up on your training/skills, short of a graduate school?If you’ve been out of school for five years, that doesn’t seem so long compared to 15-20. Maybe Peace Corp or something similar? Or your Alumni program?

      1. Stephanie*

        I’ve looked into some international development (like a professional version of Engineers Without Borders). That sounds like it could be interesting and way to pick up experience. Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of the stuff is volunteer (a la Peace Corps).

    8. BL*

      I think it depends a lot on the industry you want to be in. In my experience, some industries seem to value advanced degrees more where others value a PE while others don’t really care about either. I second the suggestion to look at positions that don’t have “engineer” in the title but require similar skills. You might also consider companies that employ engineers but that isn’t the primary focus.

  36. ChristineH*

    Dang it….I always manage to catch these threads well after the number of comments has gone into the hundreds!! Goodie…weekend reading! ;)

    Anyway – here’s something that’s not a huge deal, but nonetheless curious about:

    For those who apply for government jobs (state, local), do you have to pay an application fee? My state’s personnel department, known as the Civil Service Commission, charges a fee to apply for jobs open to the public (as opposed to internal position announcements). Is this normal? I can understand if the application includes a separate exam, but I think many jobs are evaluated just based on an application.

    1. Stephanie*

      Whoa! I’m guessing it’s to cut down on the number of applicants, but this seems discriminatory. Which state is this?

      I’ve seen paid services that help you with KSAs (essay questions, essentially) for federal jobs here in DC, but usually those are private companies.

    2. Malissa*

      They may call it an application fee. But it’s usually a fee to cover civil service testing and a background check. But very common things in Civil Service.

  37. Elizabeth West*


    What to wear my first day at NewJob? The first time I interviewed at this company, for a receptionist position, I wore a suit. My new boss told me not to wear one to the follow-up; she said to dress business casual, because it was really informal and she didn’t want me to appear haughty, I guess. So I wore khakis, a white shirt, cool turquoise jewelry and a brown blazer and felt like that was perfect. But my interviewers were in jeans and sweatshirt/sweater!

    So would spanking new dark jeans, only dressed up a bit with nice shoes and a nice shirt/sweater be okay? I don’t want to be the little kid at a party in a dress when everybody else is wearing shorts.

    1. Natalie*

      I would probably not wear jeans, just because it seems really normal to me to dress up on the first day. I work in a business casual office and everyone seems to wear a suit on their first day, but otherwise we only wear suits if VIPs are coming.

      I would probably wear whatever outfit you were thinking of, but with black pants instead of jeans. It’s not too formal but still dressed up enough that you look like you’re dressed to impress.

      Congratulations on New Job, btw.

    2. Colette*

      I’d probably go with something slightly dressier than jeans. But I don’t think you’ll go wrong if you wear jeans – that’s clearly the company norm and I can’t imagine anyone thinking twice about that.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I have a brand new pair, very nice. And an oatmeal shawl collar cardigan I can put a nice shirt under, with some decent jewelry. I need some new boots, though. The heels on my Etienne Aigners are completely worn down. Off to Ross. :)

    3. JP*

      I probably would skip the jeans for the first day and maybe wear a nice shirt/sweater with the khakis, both for professionalism~ and because it’s always nice to feel like you look awesome/not worry about what you’re wearing when you’re trying to make first impressions. And you can scope out what everyone else is wearing to decide if the jeans get to come out and play the rest of the week :)

    4. Melanie*

      I think it depends on where you are located. I am on the west coast and work at a software development company where business casual means you aren’t barefoot…. I definitely would take into account the industry and go from there.

      In my opinion, jeans are perfectly fine unless there are holes or rips in them. Pair that with a blouse or tank/cardigan combo, throw on some cute flats and to me that warrants business casual.

    5. Job seeker*

      Elizabeth, what you suggested sounds nice. I think whatever you choose to wear you will be fine. I am really happy for you, this new year has started out great for you. I know you are so excited.:-)

    6. ChristineH*

      First of all – congrats on the new job!!!

      Second – I echo everyone else and go with the khakis. I think it’s better to err on the side of being a bit dressier for your first day. Then, over the next few days, try to observe how others dress and take your cues from that.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, I was thinking “dress the jeans up!” but I’ll probably just do this. I do have a really cute/nice pair of khaki-colored jeans…. :)
        I wonder if my boot heels can be fixed. I love those boots to death and I’m not ready to give them up yet.

        1. Stephanie*

          If the steel in the heel isn’t worn completely down, it’s usually a pretty easy fix! Resoling’s also not too pricey.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I will check that out. I’m not sure if we have a place here that does that. There are so many small places that have closed because everyone wants to just buy new shoes when theirs wear out.

            1. Stephanie*

              See, that’s sad. I have unusually large, flat feet and I stretch out my shoes as long as possible (since it’s hard to find replacements) and am all about taking them to the cobbler.

    7. KIP*

      I think dark jeans work just as well as khakis. If your interviewers were wearing jeans and a sweatshirt (assuming it’s not casual Friday), then I would wear the dark jeans just so you don’t feel out of place and blend in with the culture.

    8. Jamie*

      It may not matter – but I’ve worked places where jeans were okay for some positions and not others – I would err on the side of business casual pants until you have a solid feel for what’s okay there.

      So when do you start? I know new jobs are kind of nerve wracking (at least for me) but they are so exciting, too.

  38. Melanie*

    One of my co-workers was recently invited out on a date by another co-worker. We don’t have any rules about inter-office dating, however she isn’t interested. She doesn’t want HR to get involved because we only have 8 people in our company and she feels it would be extremely awkward for her and this other person…. What is the most polite way to tell him “no” but also keep the business relationship a good one. Interactions in such a small office can be tricky since you can’t really avoid or hide from anyone.

    1. LMW*

      Why doesn’t she just say “That’s a nice, but I don’t date people I work with.”? No reason to involve HR unless he’s harassing her IMO.

    2. JP*

      She’s the only one who knows how he would react, but I think the usual “No, thanks!” should work unless it’s likely he’d go into meltdown. She doesn’t have to explain herself to him, not wanting to is enough.

  39. LouG*

    Love the open thread! I’m in the process of writing a cover letter and am stumbling over who to address it to. I’ve read AAM enough to know that Dear Hiring Manager should be okay, but I still like to address it to someone specifically if possible. The job description says I would be reporting to the Chair of Department ABC. On the website, Department ABC actually has co-chairs. So, address it to the two people, pick one, or go with hiring manager? The position is at a University so they are professors, if that matters. Thanks all!

    1. Cathy*

      Just do not do what one of the candidates I got this week did. This is the actual cut/paste from the first page of his resume/cover letter (they were combined in a single attachment of 9 pages):

      “Dear Recruiting Manager
      Any Company, Inc

      To whom it many concern:

      Dear Sir/Madam,

      This is a reference to the position at your company, I feel that I have the qualifications necessary to effectively handle the responsibilities that you layout in your job ads…”

      One generic greeting is fine. Three is overkill!

  40. Holly*

    Which is worse: having a coworker come to work obviously sick and work through it, or having a coworker call-in and having to do some work on their assignments? Also, is there a stigma against a younger employee calling out?

    1. Ellie H.*

      For just one person’s opinion, I don’t mind someone coming to work sick (I am not particular germ-phobic) unless they talk about being sick, how they feel, I have to talk about their being sick, express sympathy, say “You should go home,” etc. That’s what really drives me crazy, not coughing or sneezing. If I like the person, I’ll genuinely feel bad that she is sick and be genuinely encouraging her to just go home, but I can’t stand having to express sympathy, give attention, talk about sickness etc.

      I wouldn’t mind being asked to do work on their assignments either though, but I’m an assistant, so helping out with other people’s projects is almost my entire job.

      1. Jen in RO*

        What Ellie said. I don’t care if you come in sick, I’m not scared of catching your cold, but don’t whine about it all day. And don’t cough on me.

    2. K*

      If someone is legitimately sick, I don’t think I have any grounds to complain about being asked to help out on their projects, assuming other people will jump in on mine when I’m sick. That’s just part of working as a team, I think.

      It also doesn’t bother me when people come to work sick if they’re feeling well enough to work; if they’re not, they should stay home and rest, but I am not going to judge someone for coming in with the sniffles; life doesn’t always allow for people to take off for that, I feel like.

      1. Holly*

        Yeah, we’re talking 101.4 temperature, the coughs, migraine, sitting on the couch feeling awful kind of sick. Where you only leave to buy Mucinex at the grocery store.

        I’m feeling guilty for calling out and making it harder on my team..

        1. AnotherAlison*

          If you have the influenza that’s going around here right now, you’re probably useless at work anyway. My son has been on the couch for 5 days, not sitting, not eating, nada. Yesterday, I was to the point where I was just like seriously? 4 days?

          Feel better : )

          1. Rana*

            Ugh. I had The Crud (which is what I’ve been calling it in my mind) at the start of the season and it really is that bad. It wasn’t until the fifth day in or so that I felt capable of walking across the street to the drug store for supplies.

            What got me through: TONS of sleep, occasional hot showers or baths, hot tea with honey, chicken soup, energy shakes (like Ensure), and fruit popsicles.

            I hope everyone is feeling better soon!

    3. Lisa*

      Absolutely, do not go to work sick. I’m not a germaphobe, but I do not appreciate getting sick from my coworkers. It is irresponsible behavior and “dedicated” employees are partially responsible for the spread of this recent flu outbreak. If you are concerned about your workload and your impression, try to do whatever you can from home. Hope you feel better!

    4. GeekChic*

      Depends on what the leave situation is like at the company.

      If there is no or very little paid sick leave then I’m not going to begrudge someone coming in with the bubonic plague – even though I’m immuno-suppressed.

      If there is reasonable or generous sick leave then I’m going to give you the side eye, tell you that no one is essential and to take your possibly infectious self home.

      Oh – and age has nothing to do with it.

      1. Holly*

        We don’t have sick leave, per se, but we do have vacation time. I took the one day I had left saved up off today for the flu.

        I hadn’t considered that some of my coworkers may be immune-suppressed (it’s never come up, but it’s not like that’s my business anyway.) That makes me feel a bit better about not going in.

    5. Jamie*

      The flu doesn’t discriminate by age, so I can’t imagine ever being more irritated that someone younger called in sick as opposed to someone older.

      I’m not a germaphobe either (not technically, anyway) but I am a big believer in people keeping their germs contained when possible (although we’re contagious before symptoms – which seems like a major design flaw in the whole illness process) and I’m also a big believer in people being human beings who should be home sleeping and taking care of themselves when they are sick.

      You’ll recover faster and it’s just humane to let feverish, achy people lay in bed, drink fluids, and watch crappy TV.

      And no one is indispensable – but I’ll be honest and admit that I’ve come in sick because something was going on where I knew I would be bothered all day anyway – and I would be bothered less if I were silently dying in my office rather than trying to sleep at home. But – in my own defense – I have my own office and will put a humorous (to me) quarantine sign on the door and deal with people strictly via email, cancel meetings, and leave my office only to go to the bathroom.

      I don’t touch the water cooler and won’t go near the kitchen.

      And because I’m me, I make sure people know I’m spraying everything with Lysol after I use the bathroom.

      I know we can’t avoid catching stuff from each other – it’s part of the human condition – but this presenteism really does help spread stuff. It’s a shame when people who are genuinely sick can’t take a couple of days to recover without losing pay or vacation time or whatever.

      In manufacturing we have production machines and robotics and sometimes there is downtime because something is wrong and needs to be fixed. That’s built into optimization and capacity plans – no one in their right mind would assume you would have 100% full productivity from any machine over a long period of time. Shouldn’t people be worthy of at least as much understanding?

      1. Natalie*

        “although we’re contagious before symptoms – which seems like a major design flaw in the whole illness process”

        If you’re the virus, this is definitely a feature rather than a bug.

    6. RF*

      Please don’t come in sick and contagious. Some of use are on immune-supressing drugs and would rather not get sick 10 times a year just because other people wouldn’t stay at home for two days…

      1. Jamie*

        This is something not only people who make the choice to come in have to keep in mind – and it’s a good reminder that it’s not just people like me who are babies about getting sick…but there are people for whom exposure is much more serious.

        But it’s also something the policy makers need to keep in mind. Often people come in because they truly cannot afford to miss a day’s pay – or even for exempt people there can be pressure (both subtle and overt) about bucking up and coming in and it’s hard to make the choice when you know there will be ramifications.

        I know I’ve said this before – but as we’re talking about it I think it bears repeating: if you treat your employees like adults and allow them the freedom to attend to stuff like getting sick, going to the dentist, etc you will find there is far less abuse of time away than if you monitor every minute.

        I personally put in a ton of OT for which I’m not comped – being exempt – and I’m fine with that because I know no one would raise an eyebrow if I had to leave early, come in late, or take a sick day on occasion. I guarantee that the employer comes out ahead on that deal. If I was micromanaged to the minute you can bet I’d be micromanaging right back and not giving anything I wasn’t required.

        You get more out of people by being willing to bend a little bit.

        And if you have people abusing the system, and you will because there are always one or two, then deal with them individually and not with group policy.

        1. Anonymous*

          +1 I’ve worked in flexible hours environments, and I’ve worked in 8-5 environments where the mgr was standing there watching the clock sweep past 8:00am taking note of who wasn’t at their desk. Always as an exempt employee. The flexible hours environments get a lot more extra hours out of me than do those who micromanage my time because the former is only interested in my results and hitting my milestones and not whether or not I’m complying with some arcane rule.

  41. Chris*

    Anyone here join the military or have done military work? I was able to get my B.S. in Aero. Engineering in June, but I haven’t been able to get intern or entry-level work upon graduation (and for further information’s sake wasn’t able to get an internship in college). My family has suggested I look into the Air Force to see if I can get something there, but I’m rather torn about joining the military due to many lifestyle changes that have to take place upon joining a branch. This isn’t a decision I want to make lightly, so I am wondering if anyone has any input on joining any of the armed forces upon graduating, or if I’m realistically better off just trying to get an entry engineering job in the states if I’m not 100% committed to the military.

    1. JamieG*

      My husband is in the Air Force. Honestly, if you’re not sure it’s what you want to do, don’t enlist; it’s a huge commitment, and you can’t just back out of it in a year or two if you change your mind. Of course, if your options are military or long-term unemployment, and you can’t afford unemployment, do what you have to in order to keep a roof over your head. But I wouldn’t advise joining just because you aren’t sure what else to do.

      Also, keep in mind that the (U.S.) military is downsizing right now, so it’s harder to get in than it was a few years ago; it might not even be an option for you.

    2. class factotum*

      I have not been in the military, but my father was career Air Force, so I know the life as a dependent. We moved every three to four years and lived in great places: Spain, the Panama Canal Zone, Texas. I started learning Spanish when I was in kindergarten. I could not have gotten my current or my previous job without the Spanish. I would not have gotten to Chile with the Peace Corps without my Spanish. I might not have gotten into my college without my background – I had just ordinary test scores and grades, but my background was different enough to make me stand out. I was really lucky to grow up in such an interesting environment.

      The drawback, of course, is that you might go to war. Most jobs don’t have the possibility of death as part of the job description. And you don’t make a whole lot of money. My parents had $3,000 saved when my father retired. They were not spendthrifts – my mom sewed our clothes and we ate a lot of beans, but there just wasn’t a lot coming in.

    3. Anonymous*

      I was in the military for 10yrs. It is a huge commitment that comes first above your family. That was something that I actually struggled with and ended up making the decision to not re-enlist. Consider that when making your decision.
      The military is downsizing (as stated below) so that is something to consider, as well. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a job, just means you have to work harder to be a cut above the rest in keeping the job. It’s not an “easy” in like it was before.
      Also, being in the military did nothing in helping me to gain employment. Now, what I mean is that there is no special preference given to people who have served. You can get 5% points for being military if applying for a gov job but those are a dime a dozen these days. Trust me, I am a 3yr veteran of trying to get a gov job. Out of probably close to 150 jobs applied for, only 1 interview and they decided to hire someone from within. I know, 150 jobs in 3yrs doesn’t sound dedicated but you have to take into account that those were the jobs I was qualified for. The gov doesn’t hire people with 80% qualifications…they hire 110% qualified.
      My best advice, if you have a degree and are willing to make the commitment, go for it. Become an officer. You receive better pay, better housing and better experience as an officer. Also, if you do make the commitment, make sure you are doing it for the long haul ie 20-30yrs. Consider Reserves or National Guard as well, they are always looking for officers.
      Hope this was helpful. Not very positive but it’s the honest truth.

    4. BL*

      I would recommend looking into a civilian position with the military. It has a lot of the benefits but fewer of the downsides in my opinion. My dad has been in the Air Force and in the National Guard and I hoped to join but wasn’t able to due to health concerns. When I graduated, I interviewed for a few engineering positions with the Air Force. Oddly enough, they actually called to tell me I was the second choice for one and they would call me back if the first choice declined the offer. I was offered a different position but not until I was already working somewhere else.

      1. anon-2*

        Once, the only period of my life when I was unemployed – I discussed a position which would have required me to accept a commission – and after looking into what that meant, I withdrew from the interview process.

        The military is a huge commitment… I know, my daughter and son-in-law were both in. My daughter resigned her commission because she wanted to raise a family – and with both parents being in the military it could cause situations which they wouldn’t want to handle.

  42. Cam*

    I have a wording question, both for my resume and for talking about in interviews. I just got promoted to a position one level up and now I “manage” a couple of people, but I’m not a manager. I train them, set their daily duties, supervise their work, but ultimately if there are issues between us, it’s the responsibility of our shared manager to take care of. What’s the best way to reflect this relationship in my resume? I want to show that I have this experience, but don’t want to use the word “manage” or “supervise”, since I’m not technically either of those.

    1. Mints*

      Oh, I have this same relationship. I went with “organized XX…” and “coordinated YY…” I also use the word “daily” to hopefully send the picture that I wasn’t big picture manager.

  43. anon*

    My coworkers want me to party with them (get drunk and act stupid) and keep trying to get to know me on a very personal level (i.e. questions about people I’ve dated, my religious beliefs, ect). I want to get to know them on a nice, friendly level without telling them too much about my personal life. I don’t mind going to the occasional after-work social thing, but i don’t want to get too close. How do I handle this situation without coming off rude and aloof? I don’t work with a bunch of young kids either- most are older professionals.

    1. Kate in Scotland*

      For the gossip/personal info aspect, I find it’s best to figure out something personal-sounding that’s actually not that revealing and then talk about that a lot. Using the ‘gossip voice’. My nephew, my knitting group, friends getting married. Thankfully I work in a very reserved office now which suits me much better.
      For going out, try to turn up at some things that have an end time and/or be driving.

  44. Esra*

    I had a strange interview last week. I’m a grahic designer with experience in print, web, and environmental design, along with some light coding skills (CSS, HTML, jQuery). I applied to a posting that matched my skill set to a T and got a sane sounding email asking me to come in for an interview. Things just went totally downhill the moment the interviewer opened his mouth.

    He clearly hadn’t read my resume, told me that they might be hiring a designer, might be hiring two junior designers, or maybe someone for SEO or social media? They weren’t really sure. Oh, by the way, have I heard of C-S-S? It’s for coding. I finally managed to get a word in edgewise and offered to walk through some of the projects in my portfolio to describe my level of design, code, etc skills and he actually grabbed my portfolio away from me and said “No! We have to go over the words first /points to resume.”

    He was like, so you’re looking for work, you can start immediately right? No, I’m currently employed. But it’s just contract work right? You’re a designer. No, it’s a full time job, 9-5, benefits, the whole deal. Okay, what do you make an hour? I don’t get paid hourly, it’s a salary job. Well how much do you make? I make XXk + benefits + four weeks vacation. Oh. So we might be willing to pay 25$ an hour, which works out to almost 60k a year (uhm???). And on it went. It was so bad I broke my cardinal rule and didn’t send a follow up email.

    I don’t know if I should send an email removing myself from consideration (for maybe a design job? For maybe a social media job? Oh, have I heard of twitter?) or just let it fade from my mind. Has anyone ever sent an email following a terrible interview to remove yourself from consideration for the position? Or do you just generally not bother?

        1. Esra*

          It was. I didn’t even ask any questions. He also mentioned they were interviewing 25-35 people so it was just carpet-bombing. It’s a bit depressing because of the two interviews I’ve had in the past four months (argh, this economy), they were both totally weird. The first one I got offered the job but it was ridiculously underpaid. It’s really hard to not just disengage entirely.

    1. Miss Displaced*

      In a word… RUN!
      If it’s this dysfunctional at the interview stage, imagine working there. Jeez.
      I would just let it pass like a bad memory and make a note not to apply there again.
      If they do contact you, simply state that you’ve found something else.

  45. Good_Intentions*

    Great open thread!

    I am putting together my first-ever portfolio and am uncertain of what needs to go in it.

    In the past few years, I have moved from small newsrooms to the communications and community outreach departments of nonprofits. I know that writing samples, event outlines and promotional materials should go into the portfolio.

    Does anyone have other suggestions? What about websites dealing with this subject?


  46. Non-mouse*

    My department head (male) happened to walk by whilst I (female) was being chatted up by a much younger guy and fairly obviously flattered by it. We were in a public eating area in my building, not on my office floor, it was my lunch break and the guy does not work in my office nor in the building. He just approached me and sat down—I’d never seen him before then. There are always tons of people in & out of the building, on various types of business. I did not seek this situation out and wouldn’t do so intentionally during the workday, especially not in my building.

    I felt rather embarrassed when the boss walked by, which was very out of the blue, and I just said hello to him with a smile and resumed my conversation. The boss didn’t seem to have much of a reaction one way or another but who knows? Even though I know there’s no hard rule against what transpired, I wondered if it would make the boss view me a certain way— frivolous or like the office flirt, and view me as less of a professional. It doesn’t help that I sort of AM the office flirt, somewhat. Not in any extreme way or with any deliberate designs, but I have a chatty, playful personality type and I’m very girly, etc. I have done absolutely nothing inappropriate with anyone at work, I maintain professionalism and my work is very high quality. But I am aware that perceptions can be more important than reality in some cases. Should I be concerned, and if so, what sort of “damage control” is in order?

    1. Diane*

      Don’t worry about it. You were having a conversation on your own time. The boss probably won’t give it much thought.

    2. Jen in RO*

      You were just having a conversation with a guy. I doubt the boss even remembers he saw you. I think you can just relax :)

    3. EM*

      If you’re concerned about your behavior, maybe think about why. There might be something there, or you’re just self-conscious. Really though, you were just talking to another person. Unless you were hanging on him or publicly making out, I doubt the department head even noticed.

  47. Cassie*

    Why is it common (at least, in my dept) for female staffers to play the role of the helpless damsel-in-distress? One staffer asked for help to move her laptop computer. None of them change the water cooler jug (okay, we’ll give them that one since it can be a bit difficult). A couple of them talk with a somewhat baby-ish tone of voice when asking the male coworkers to do something.

    I can’t really describe the situations but it drives me batty. I want to tell them to stop being so wimpy and act like an adult. Yes, you might have to ask for help on something but then just ask politely with a normal voice. You don’t need to sweeten up your voice and bat your eyes.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve actually never encountered this. Seems to me like their acting like this would totally undermine them, regardless of what their role is in the company. My only guess for them playing the helpless damsel-in-distress is that they at some point learned from someone that this is how you get men to do things and they likely enjoy the feeling of being rescued.

      That would drive me nuts, too, and I would probably blurt out, “Grow the f*** up and talk like an adult!” Obviously the better thing to say, if you’re so inclined, is to say that the baby talk is unnecessary and it undermines any authority they might have.

      1. Cassie*

        Well, they don’t talk that way to me so I don’t feel like I can/should say anything. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl too, or also because I’m not someone who would tolerate kiss-ups (not that I’m in a position where people WOULD want to kiss up to me) so perhaps they know to not even bother acting like this with me.

        I agree that that kind of behavior undermines them but they don’t seem to care (culprits ranges from the entry-level clerk to the HR manager).

      2. Anonymous*

        As a woman, I’ve encountered the baby-voice thing (one technical term for it is “vocal fry”) when other women come to me for help. In some particularly egregious cases, I’ve been tempted to tell them to stop inhaling helium* and come back when they can talk in an ordinary human register.

        *We’re down the hall from several research labs that definitely have helium, but they’re probably not actually inhaling it because they’d need help handling the gas canister.

        1. Jamie*

          Yes. The higher the voice the more horrible the thing they did to their computer that they need me to undo. :)

          1. Elizabeth*

            For me, it isn’t the higher voice. I work in a hospital. There are 500+ employees, and most of us are women. I’ve trained it out of myself (along with training myself to speak 2 full steps lower on the major scale, thanks to my late FIL’s hearing loss in my natural voice range), but most women haven’t. It’s part of social conditioning, and I don’t fault anyone for it.

            It is the giggle at the end that drives me batty. If it is serious enough that you’re calling me, be serious enough not to giggle about it. Otherwise, I’m going to assume you still think you’re 7 and you are going to still be getting by doing the giggle & bat your eyelashes schtick. And I’m not going to take you seriously.

          2. Rana*

            Oof. High-pitched I can deal with. But there’s also one variant that really is baby-voice shmoopy and it drives me nuts when I hear it. I mean, geez, even actual children don’t talk that way.

          3. Diane*

            I understand this now that I have a puppy. When she’s in trouble or wants attention, she uses little baby yips. It works in the wild, and it does get my sympathy, so on an evolutionary level, it makes sense. So I suggest snarling.

    2. Min*

      *hangs head in shame*

      I hate asking for favors and when I’m uncomfortable with a situation my voice has a tendancy to get higher pitched. I never even noticed until someone pointed it out to me (in a very direct and annoyed fashion) when I was asking her to cover for me while I was on break.

      It is something I’m trying to be more aware of now, but it is not at all a conscious thing and I’m sure there are still times that I do it without realizing it. Have a little compassion, we’re not all intentionally manipulative.

      1. Jamie*

        I think this happens to a lot of us, I know mine gets higher on the phone and when I’m talking to someone for the first time. Also angry.

        And now that I think of it I have a higher register around my and family than I do typically. None of it deliberate – I just find it interesting and I should google the anthropological reasons for it.

        1. Min*

          Oooh, the higher phone voice thing. I do that, too, and I hate it. My friends and co-workers have mocked me for years for it, but even when I know I’m doing it I can’t seem to stop.

          That one I’m pretty sure I know why I do it – it’s my mother’s phone voice that somehow comes out of my mouth. *shudder*

          1. Jamie*

            Omg – if I didn’t know better I’d swear you were me. I hear my mom every time I do it, yet can’t stop. Also mocked at work for it, but in a good natured way so it doesn’t bother me.

    3. Non-mouse*

      I find myself accidentally doing it sometimes, and I normally speak in a low, slightly “deep” tone— myself hating “pampered princess Playboy Bunny voice” as I call it: that high-pitched half-whine that many young women who make themselves conventionalized “hotties” tend to take on. (You know it when you hear it, and I’m sure you’ve all heard it.) So why do I let myself speak a few pitches higher sometimes? It’s definitely not calculated, it just happens. I liken it to what happens when one sees a kitten or a baby, because it’s awfully difficult to speak in any kind of low, mature tone in that context. It’s an automatic response in some situations, and one of those situations is when you have to be deferential. As another responder said, you KNOW you’re asking a favor of someone which is likely a pain in the arse for them to have to deal with. But they have the ability to do it and you don’t, so you have to defer to them. And hopefully you appreciate what they’re doing to help you. So you find yourself showing your appreciation with this automatic display of “sweetness”, which admittedly sounds pretty grating to outside ears.

      In my case, I know it gets worse the more icy or irritated I perceive the request-grantor to be, or the more it seems like they resent the request. When the situation is extreme like that, no matter how high-pitched you say it, your request is all-too-often going to elicit the “dumb girl” or “bimbo” impression in their mind, simply because you’re having to request it. Because you obviously can’t do or fix whatever it is yourself. Sometimes the icy response is justifiable if you constantly put others out. But also there are a lot of people, male and female, who seem to take particular delight in mocking women whom they perceive to be “dumb girls” or “bimbos” or who give off a lot of stereotypically “feminine” cues. These people take pride (again, some of it justifiable) in not being these stereotypes themselves, and usually they don’t mean to come off icy– they’re just being “cool” and distinguishing themselves from that. But with some people it’s just as shallow and ignorant as the “bimbo” supposedly is, when the reaction is based ONLY on superficial cues and also happens to be coming from a judgmental mentality. So in the most extreme or tense cases of this, the instant unconscious logic behind the baby voice might be something like: “s/he’s going to judge me as a ‘bimbo’ anyway for being in a stereotypical ‘girl’ quandary. There’s no way I can avoid asking because I really need the help. So, I may as well ask as sweetly as possible so ‘bitchy’ doesn’t get added to the already negative opinion. At least s/he’ll know I really appreciate the help.” And since it’s kind of hard to say something “sweetly” without your voice going higher, this is how that sound can wind up coming out of the mouths of otherwise intelligent, capable and non-stereotypical women. But it’s probably a good idea to try and consciously modulate it in the future, since it doesn’t seem to help create a respectable impression.

      1. Job seeker*

        Maybe this is a generation thing here. I think many of us women talk this way because asking for favors is hard. I am not referring to what you describe as dumb girls or a bimbo way, but then I would never refer to anyone that way. I think in my generation most women did want to be referred to as sweet and asking for help should be done in a sweet way. To this day, I can think of worst things you could do. Just saying.

  48. Sean*

    So I’m trying to figure out what to put on my resume, for the most part my “resume” on LinkedIn. I’ve been working for an advertising firm for the past five months however since the start of this month they don’t have hours for me to work as I’m still in training. (Long training period I know but it does tend to take more time to get workers integrated than say if it were retail.) So I’ve been kind of put on hiatus but I was told to contact them again in April as there’s a better chance of them having hours (and given I’ll be on my summer I’ll probably have a lot more time than say…five hours a week that I can work). I’m not actually applying for a job right now but I’m just wondering should I be listing myself still employed there or would I just do it in parts if I can like Sept. – Dec. 2012 and then April 2013-whenever I stop working there?
    Let me know your thoughts.

    However, if say I get the internship at my local newspaper which is paid and would start in April I likely would leave the company so if that’s the case would I list myself as only Sept – January or Sept – April for the company?

    Thanks for your help people.

  49. Anonymous*

    I have a question to ask people. How have you handled or how would you have handled the following scenario:

    Got a job that was seasonal with the potential of permanent. I was hired as a supervisor and trainer. I absolutely loved the job and my boss. I was friendly to everyone, always in to work early, even brought up some new ideas on how to do things better, and they even implemented several of my ideas.

    Then, I decided to overhaul my appearance to be more in line with what society calls “professional looking”, complete with a smashing new hair cut! Everyone loved it (and no, I wasn’t looking for them to love it!!) but right off the bat, 2 ladies who had the bosses ear, started to become distant and make those passive weird remarks. Of course I let it fly right on by and those remarks were probably the ones I actually noticed.

    I am that type of person who is genuinely nice, works really hard and talks to everyone. I know, hard to think that’s possible but that is a trait I picked up along the way in life. Even my boss mentioned that was something he admired about me! LOL

    Anyway, I didn’t get the permanent position and my boss actually started to ignore me the last 2wks! I was baffled because I had always made it a point to talk to him. I have no idea how I was suppose to handle this type of situation. It ended up that I just finished my time and went home. The saddest part was I invested 150% of myself into that possible job only to be ignored and released from work.

    And yes, after some thought, I should have talked to my boss but I feared that awkwardness, so didn’t talk to him. Any ideas on how I should have handled that?

    1. fposte*

      Talked to your boss. And not assumed it was the haircut, because it’s not very likely (and if it was the haircut, well, that’s probably not a workplace to tie a future to).

      Your boss probably started ignoring you in the last two weeks because you were leaving, BTW. That happens sometimes.

      1. Anonymous*

        Thanks so much for responding fposte!! I agree with you, I should have just tucked my fear away and talked to him.
        I see what you are saying about the ignoring me because he knew before me that he wasn’t going to keep me around. Hadn’t thought about that.
        I live in NE Ohio and good paying jobs are really hard to find. When one comes along that is decent paying, you truly enjoy and you get no offer, hard to describe the feelings!

  50. TBL SGC*

    About a month ago, I was having a really bad day and walked out to find a quiet corner to pull myself together. A coworker (who is also my fiancé’s best friend) saw me and followed. Gave me a minute to cry, was comforting, then said something entirely inappropriate to make me laugh, I gave him a little shove and went on about my horrible day. (Completely normal interaction, I’ve become their surrogate little sister/den mother complete with teasing, physical contact, and protectiveness)

    Unfortunately we were seen by another coworker who filed a complaint against friend for sexual harassment against me. It’s expected in our agency that if you see something, you report it so I understand that part. I could also understand if she felt the interaction was inappropriate, if she felt uncomfortable, or if what he said offended her. This is my friend, she knows it, and the thought of him harassing me is hilarious. We had a meeting and I explained the situation, countered every claim she made (he didn’t yank me into the corner and hold me there, I didn’t have to hit him to get away) and she wasn’t close enough to hear what he said, so that part was left out. The report was closed as unfounded. The problem is she will not let it drop. Every time this friend (or my fiancé or any of the other guys) stop by to chat or even just say hi, she’s pulling out a notebook and obviously documenting it all. She seems convinced that I am the victim and is determined to prove it. It’s gotten so I walk out of the office to talk to any of them because being near her makes them very uncomfortable. My fiancé spent just two weeks out of town for work, so they were checking on me a lot, offering lunch or dinner, making sure everything was OK at our house. She kept asking was I afraid to be there by myself since everyone knew fiancé was gone. She said more than once that I just don’t understand what it means to be a victim. I finally snapped and said the only person victimizing me is her. I think the more time and attention I give her is just adding fuel to the fire so I’ve more or less stopped talking to her unless it’s work related. I filed a notice to be added to the original file that she is obsessed with this to the point that it is interfering with work. I made it clear that my intention is to ignore the behavior and her to the best of my ability. There’s no place to move, so I’m stuck in the office with her. Then Friday I overheard her tell another girl in the office that she was seriously considering filing a complaint against me because I’m refusing to talk to her when she’s only trying to help. I’m debating whether I should file my own complaint, and I know several of the guys are ready because they hate the implications she’s pushing.

    Advice? File a complaint? Give the guys the green light to file theirs? Any thoughts as to how to convince this woman that she is completely wrong? If it matters she’s about mid forties, I’m mid twenties. Oh and ‘my guys’ are men and women in uniform (close knit band of brothers/sisters).

    1. ChristineH*

      It sounds like you already filed a notice letting it be known that your coworker refuses to drop the harassment allegations. So I don’t think you need to file another one, unless filing a complaint is a different procedure than a “notice”?

      If the others who want to file a complaint are feeling like this is directly affecting their work, then I’d say they should consider going forward with it.

      I’m eager to see how this turns out – sounds like a pretty dicey situation!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I think you did what you could do and now it’s up to management to handle her. I really hope they put their foot down with her. She is being completely inappropriate. Please let us know what happens.

    3. KIP*

      If she “thinks” you are a victim, did you try to tell her directly that this person is your fiance’s friend and that you guys like to joke around like that?

      1. Rana*

        Sadly, with a person like this, she’s likely to just interpret it through her weird filters on this as “More evidence TBL is being harassed: she’s too threatened to speak honestly and he probably put her up to making excuses for him.”

        I wouldn’t file a counter-complaint; the note in your file should be enough. Let her be the crazy one all on her own.

        (That said, you may wish to keep a record of her harassment of you, just in case. Don’t do it in an obvious way; just make a note at the end of the day of anything she did that made you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Hopefully you’ll never need to use it, but it could be good to have.)

        Do you have any other co-workers you trust to have your back on this? To them it might be worth saying something along the lines of “I don’t know if you’ve noticed the weird dynamic between Ethel and myself these days. I just wanted to let you know that she’s got this strange idea I’m being harassed by Fiance’s Friend, and can’t seem to let it go. I’m doing my best to ignore it, but I just thought you might like to know what’s going on.” That way your side of things is out there, and your co-worker can explain to other people what’s going on, so you don’t have to keep being part of this drama Ethel’s trying to make you co-star in.

    4. TBL SGC*

      Holy frickin’ Monday, Batman! Over the weekend a couple of the guys came over (because apparently I cannot clear an inch snow off my two inch porch) So I fed them, and ended up with a bunch more people there to welcome fiancé home, lots of food and goofing off. Her name came up and I told them all to decide for themselves if they wanted to file. It’s really bothered them a lot more than I thought. By today, several of them had. So she was called into a meeting and formally told to drop the matter. She came out and WENT OFF! It’s all a conspiracy against her, the guys would stand together no matter what one of them did, she can’t believe this all turned on her, victims didn’t stand a chance. (so now she’s the victim, at least I’m not anymore) She really belittled the men and the profession. Our boss pulled her aside and mentioned that if she felt that way, perhaps this was no longer the place for her to work and she was put on mandatory leave. There’s been mention of a ‘health evaluation’ being ordered before she can return (I assume mental?) I feel a little bad, because this has completely changed everyone’s opinion of her but you can’t criticize these guys and their choice to put on that uniform, then expect things to be fine.

      Gotta love Mondays.

  51. Anonymous*

    I applied for a job a month ago and several since (I didn’t just want to wait on this one job, I wanted to be active in searching for others). I received a call just yesterday to set up an interview for it and forgot what the job description entailed. Unfortunately, I had to call and ask for a copy of the description because I forgot to keep track of it, only to learn that she didn’t have it, but she gave me an overview about it with no problem. Do you think this will count against me during our interview? Thanks.

    1. ChristineH*

      I agree with Elizabeth. Yes it is good practice to keep track of the jobs you apply for, but it’s easy to get mixed up or lose track once in a while, especially if you’re applying to a lot of jobs.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Best thing–download Cute PDF Writer and print/download the job description when you apply. If you try to come back to it later, it may be gone. I have a folder for all the jobs I applied to and sort them into other folders, like No Reply, Rejections, etc. Everything’s on a spreadsheet too (I did that in case UI needed to see it), but I still keep the job description so I can print it out and go over it before an interview.

  52. MoreJunior*

    Our small company recently acquired another small company. I’m definitely more junior than the former head of this company. The questions I have comes from expenses… when there is a junior and senior person in the same room, I’ve always seen the senior person pick up the check and file the expense report. I thought it was general protocol for that to happen, rather to make someone more junior pay for the expense and have to wait for reimbursement to file on an expense report. We’ve shared several company-related cabs, and she always asks if I can pay because she dislikes filing expense reports (she used a company card at her former company). The last time we shared a cab, I had just worked through a month worth of expense reports the day before and said that I didn’t really want to file again, so I did not offer to pay for the cab. She gave me a sad look and said she had just filed as well, and then when I didn’t reach out to swipe my credit card, she gave a huge sigh and dug out her wallet. Am I in the wrong thinking that it’s typically a more senior responsibility to pay first? Everytime I am with the CEO or any other person at this woman’s level, they are the ones who offer their credit cards first. Any experience with this?

    1. Good_Intentions*


      I agree with you that the person in the more senior position should pick up the expense and file a report later. In my experience, this is standard business practice and just good etiquette.

      From your description of the situation, it’s likely that the new person is harboring some issues with how her new employers, your company that acquired hers, deals with expenses. The company’s policy is beyond your control, and she, as a more senior person, should alter her actions to reflect the firmly laid out policies of her new employer.

      P.S. Great job on standing your ground! Please don’t be guilt tripped into doing something that makes you uncomfortable.

    2. Has to be Incognito Today*

      I also had a boss who would never pick up the check. Or rent the damn car. Or drive. It was ridiculous. For him, it wasn’t the hassle of filing reports, it was like he wanted to look good for keeping his expenses down. We’re now peers & I sat and waited for him to pick up the cab fare on a recent trip. Then he left a $3 tip on a $50 fare. Yeah. We’re a big multi-billion dollar company, so my opinion is that it’s not your money, you don’t have to be such a tight wad. (No need to waste it, but at least tip fairly.)

      FWIW, I don’t think the senior person always has to pay, but you can take turns.

    3. Cassie*

      That would be annoying. Among faculty members in my dept, there are certain profs who always reach for the check, regardless of who else is there. Maybe they like looking generous and whatnot. I was at a dinner with 3 profs (one was also the dean and the other was a dept chair) – it was the 3rd prof (“only” a prof) who paid.

      But they wouldn’t expect a staff member to pay first and get reimbursed.

      Plus, a higher ranked person who theoretically have an assistant to file expense reports for him/her – no?

      1. AgilePhalanges*

        In my company, even the CEO files his own expense reports.

        It’s also a rule here that meals (no specification on other things like car rentals or cab fare, but it can be extrapolated) are to be paid by the most senior person. This isn’t so much for the reasons stated (most senior person can probably “float” the time between incurring the expense and receiving reimbursement, or is more likely to have a company credit card), though those ARE good reasons, but it’s because it guarantees that someone who wasn’t at the meal (or whatever) sees it, and people can’t be sneaky about having all of their one-to-ones at a pub rather than in the conference room down the hall, and the underling pays and the manager approves it. If the most senior person present pays, then THEIR manager has to approve it, eliminating that type of sneakiness.

    4. yen*

      At my office, it was standard practice for the most junior person to pick up the check if it were reimbursable, in the way that you’d be expected to do admin things like booking the meal etc; senior people generally picked up the check only if it were a private expense. (If it were a very large expense, like a hotel bill, then someone more senior would generally offer to pick it up. Often, though, junior people wanted the credit card points; I know I did.) But this wasn’t in the private sector and wasn’t in the US, so it might all be different here.

    5. EM*

      That’s a tough situation. I think it depends on the financial situation of those involved and it changes if somebody has a company card. I’ve never cared about paying for expense items that are reimbursed later because I have a ridiculous amount of credit (dh and I live in a crappy house and drive old cars and have not insignificant savings) but I’ve worked closely with others who live paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to effectively front the company hundreds per month. Usually the more senior have the funds to pay temporarily. If they don’t want to fill out the reimbursement, well tough nuggets.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      In my office it’s always the senior person who pays and then gets the reimbursement. They’re usually the ones with lots of available credit and can wait a month for reimbursement, so that makes sense to me.

      The woman says she hates filing reports, but, personally, I think she’s just being lazy.

      1. Jamie*

        I have a pet peeve against paying out of pocket and being reimbursed if it’s a regular thing. I know I’m weird on this and it’s a common practice – but I think company cards are underutilized and I’m not sure why some businesses opt to go the reimbursement route rather than track it all on their own account and get all the points for the business.

        1. Elizabeth*

          On the other hand, I love doing that. I get points on my credit card without having to spend my own money to accomplish it.

        2. Joey*

          Easy! Ask any fiscal person and they’ll tell you people are more responsible with expenditures when they have to put their own money up front.

        3. AgilePhalanges*

          Our company credit cards are actually still individual-pay. We used to have a corporate AmEx account, but they jerked us around horribly, and I begged TPTB to fire them. And they did!

          Now, we have ones that rely on the company’s credit rating, not the individual’s, and ultimately the company is responsible if the employee up and quits with a balance remaining, but month-to-month, the employee pays the credit card bill when it comes. However, our company has great turnaround on expense reports–anything approved by the manager by 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday is in your bank account first thing Friday (less than 48 hours later), so you have to wait a MAXIMUM of nine days for reimbursement (unless your approver takes longer approving, but it’s all eletronic, and most people are great about approving within a day or two, especially on Wednesdays). So if you turn in the expense and get it approved quickly, you’d never be truly out of pocket on your expenses paid by credit card, whether it’s your own (which a lot of people opt for because they want to accrue points/miles) or the company card (which some people opt for as a way to keep business expenses separate, or because their personal credit isn’t the best).

  53. Has to be Incognito Today*

    Vent alert!

    While I do genuinely like my job, I occassionally peruse the LinkedIn job postings. Today, there was one that seemed pretty good, except one little thing. I just happen to know one of the people I presume one would work closely with in this position. He’s the director of international sales there, and this was a director of marketing job.

    Our kids have gone to school together for 10 yrs & we used to live a few blocks from him. My husband hates this guy. . .words like “tool” and “d-bag” are frequently used to describe this guy, who at least 5 yrs ago had orange barbells through his nips & spent most of his free time going to the school at recess trying to impress the pre-teen boys. (We’re never quite sure how he manages to have so much professional success!)

    As much as I’d like to apply, I just can’t bring myself to do it!

  54. Anonymoose*

    I have a job I love with a company I love in a position I love. I’ve been here for 4 years, and I have never been happier at work in my life and do not want to leave this firm.

    The issue is: they never give real raises – just a 2 or 3% across-the-board increase for everyone (small company; email goes out to everyone announcing it.) The excuse is always that there is no money, but many of us in certain positions are aware that that is not really factual. FWIW, several of us are unhappy about this, and there are regular discussions among various coworkers about the desire to leave for other higher paying jobs. I know a few people I work with are actively trying to leave. This dissatisfaction is largely attributed to money.

    I have not applied for any jobs, but I have been contacted through LinkedIn a couple of times over the past couple of months from people who are interested in hiring me, both of whom have given me salary ranges that are 10-15% higher than what I currently make. I had an interview last week with a person I really really liked and could see myself working with. The firm seems to have the kind of culture I could do well in. The vibe and conversation were great. I’ve been asked to come back at meet the rest of the team and see how we gel. I think it is likely that I will receive an offer. We have already discussed salary and I know what to expect here.

    The two big downsides are 1) it would actually be a step DOWN for me, as I currently have more responsibility (this is actually a big concern, as I want to be moving up and forward, not backwards), and 2) I would have to leave the luxury of my office with a door and go back to a cube farm.

    I don’t want to leave my job. The fit is so perfect for me in so many ways. I love my company, and my boss knows how much I love my job and how happy I am there. But I really need to make more money. I know I CAN make more money. And I deserve to make more money.

    If I get an offer, I am not going to disclose this and get into that kind of dynamic, but my plan is to tell my boss that I can’t keep going on without reasonable pay raises, let them know I have received sincere interest from a few companies who have told me salary ballparks that are in this 10-15% higher range, and ask if the firm can give me a comparable salary that will allow me to stay. Hopefully they will, and all of this is moot.

    My questions:

    1 – Is this the right way to approach this?

    2 – If they say no, should accept the offer and go?

    3 – A 10-15% increase would be wonderful, but some things are more important than money. I have a hard time imagining myself as satisfied in any other job…although I am sure this is not the only place I could ever be this happy. All the same, I cannot stop worrying that I am on the cusp of a Big Mistake.

    4 – Am I crazy for thinking about making what could at best be described as a lateral move, even if it comes with a big raise?

    What would you do?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I would pass up this new job.
      1) More money is not everything.
      2) It is a step backwards.
      3) You don’t want to leave your job.

      Wait for a job that you are more enthusiastic about than the job you have now. Stay put. Keep looking.

    2. Jamie*

      This is tough – but it’s important to remember that there is one way where working isn’t like dating and that’s there can be more than one “the one” out there for you.

      I agree with NSNR that money isn’t everything – but it’s something – and I would be very nervous about planning a long term stay at a company where I felt I was 10-15% under market and they weren’t rectifying this with regular and significant increases.

      These are the kinds of decisions which torture me – where the pros and cons balance out and there are a lot of unknown variables. I would really listen to your intuition on this one.

    3. KIP*

      Wow, I recently went through the same exact thing you did. Let me tell you.
      I had a job I excelled at, a great boss, got along with ALL of my co-workers and the only downside to it was…salary. I interviewed and transferred to a different position at my company and it was not necessarily a step-up. Well, to my horror, I wish I had just stayed at my current position I had and not made the move. I really had it all going for me, but the only good thing from switching jobs was the 10-15% increase and looking back now, I don’t even think it was worth it.

      I would say go for it if it was actually a step-up to your career, but it doesn’t sound like it. I agree with the others above, money isn’t everything. Even a 10% salary increase will still make you dread coming into work when your boss or co-workers and work itself satisfying.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Let’s say I am making 40K per year. New job means $4000-4500 in my check.
        If I am going to be miserable at my new job- I need a LOT more money to motivate me to go in and fight the fight. In this example- I would be making approximately 76 to 86 dollars more per week. This is before taxes and hidden costs.

        My biggest hurdle if I was facing OPs dilemma? I took a job that was a step backwards. The sense of failing myself- selling myself short would be strong enough to be a deal breaker.

        From what I am reading Ben Franklin popularized the concept of using a list of pros and cons in decision making. The problem with making this list is that you never know when your list is complete. You could spend the rest of your life considering all the pros and cons.
        A current decision making model is to find ONE good solid reason for moving forward with choice A or choice B.
        My suggestion to you, OP, is to find one VERY strong reason for staying at your job OR find one VERY strong reason for moving to the next “lesser” job.

        You may or may not arrive at the conclusion I did. For me, given my givens, I must find ways not to undersell myself when it comes to employment. This is a sloppy habit I had that I need to remedy. Again, what works for me, may not be of any importance to your thoughts/needs. So am just throwing this out there for you to mull over.

  55. Jamie*

    Sorry for the duplicate post – I accidentally put this in the Short Answer Saturday thread and I’m moving it here.

    Just a question in theory – since it doesn’t apply to me now but I would like to have an answer if it should.

    This is for IT, HR, and any non-exempt readers who check email on their off hours – how do you keep track of the time just checking and responding.

    My interpretation of the labor law is that if they are requested or allowed to work (which I assume allowance is granting them email access via web) we need to pay them for all time spent doing that.

    Is there a particular system you use to keep track of the couple minutes here and there – which do add up over the course of a pay period. And I know some just do it without keeping track or putting through payroll – but if my understanding of the law is correct and one should pay for that time I would make sure it was tracked.

    Any suggestions helpful – thanks!

    1. Elizabeth*

      I’m exempt. And I don’t keep track. I get my email on my phone & iPad, and I sometimes log

      We don’t allow non-exempt employees, regardless of what department they work in, to check their email if they aren’t on the clock. If we run an audit and catch someone doing it, they will be verbally counseled on what it wrong with that and they will be paid for the time. The second time, it is a written warning.

      Hospitals have come under intense scrutiny from the Dept of Labor for exactly this, and we’re working hard to stay in compliance. It would be a major employee satisfier if we could allow them to check it outside of work time, but the fines we would be facing are to high to risk it.

      1. Andrea*

        I’m non-exempt, but I have a work blackberry and check email sometimes on off hours. Our rule is if you spend more than 7 minutes doing a work related activity, you have to charge 15 minutes of time (smallest increment), so that’s what I do. I keep track and charge my time accurately. I don’t usually look at my email on the weekends though.

    2. Joey*

      There’s an app for that. I haven’t used it, but I know DOL released an app for employees to track hours worked a couple of years ago.
      “DOL-timesheet” I think

      1. Jamie*

        Thanks, Joey and Elizabeth. I’ve been getting requests so I wanted to flesh out what was really involved.

  56. Jamie*

    Is anyone else at work today?

    I’m here by myself waiting for a tech to show up and I’m lonely…wasn’t planning on being in the office today.

    And I forgot my coffee on the piano – and so I have to make work coffee which is never as good as home coffee in a Hello Kitty travel mug.

    Anyone else stuck at the office today?

    1. Anonymous*

      I’m working later this afternoon to finish up a few things for tomorrow, but thank goodness I work from home and don’t have to get out! My hair is scary today…

      1. Jamie*

        The best that can be said about my hair today is that it’s clean. No other effort went into it.

        And if you look closely you will notice I’m wearing flannel pajama pants. I’m just here to let the tech in and get some work done while I wait – considering the circumstances I think I’m dressed appropriately…:)

    2. Rana*

      I’m always at work and at home!

      (That’s the thing they never tell people about working from home for yourself; yeah, you can do it in your pajamas, but that also means that you could also be working at 3am if you’re not careful.)

      1. Jamie*

        That was one of the hardest things about freelancing for me. I had a very hard time turning it off, so without the clear delineation of work to home it really blurred the lines.

        You have to be able to be able to make sure you carve out personal time when you work at home, because otherwise it can lead to to feel pretty guilty about whatever you’re not doing at that moment.

        That and marketing – ugh – I was miserable freelancing because success depended on all the things at which I’m lousy.

        1. Rana*

          Ugh, marketing. Luckily in my area most clients come through direct referrals or networking, so I don’t have to worry so much about that. “Warm e-mailing” is about as hardcore as it gets in that department.

          That mingling of work time and non-work time is actually one of the things I like best about this. I’ve always been more of a task-oriented, “product” person, rather than a process person, so if you give me something to do and a deadline to have it done by, I’m all over it. And if academia does nothing else, it teaches you how to deal with work that “follows you home”. So while my days individually may be fairly unstructured, over the course of a month, the time balances out, and it works for me.

          But I can see how it wouldn’t for other people; sometimes I’m rather dysfunctional when I’m deep in a project, and sometimes I get antsy when there’s too much unscheduled time. Again, though, it works out, and it’s sooooooooooooooooo much better than the times when I had to be physically at my worksite, despite there being nothing to do.* That was worse than anything.

          *As in, not only have you done all your seasonal projects, and the weekly ones, and the daily tasks, and four or five oh, yeah, I guess we could relabel the file folders make-work type projects, and then there’s nothing more. If nothing else, it really kills one’s efficiency, because the reward for being efficient is… boredom for hours. Here, if I’m efficient, I can get more clients, or take the time to go for coffee and a visit to the library. Much better!

  57. Trying not to cry*

    I was recently assigned a project that was a challenge for me – it’s something I’ve never worked on before and didn’t feel like I had much guidance or direction. I have admittedly dropped the ball, and after a week of struggling, my boss has confronted me for the first time with a bit of anger, disappointment, and frustration. During our talk, I was fighting back tears and unable to articulate exactly why I hadn’t succeeded in the project (which is about halfway complete/still in progress). All I was able to mutter were a bunch of “Okay’s” and “Mhmm’s.” As soon as our talk was over, I left the building and cried, then returned to work.

    I don’t know how to proceed. I know my focus at work must be on completing this project to the best of my ability, but I’m unsure of how to approach my boss, who, frankly, I’m scared of. Should I write an email and thank her for her feedback? Should I defend myself a bit more and explain that I wasn’t given adequate direction before starting? Somewhere in the middle? Appreciate it!

    1. Joey*

      It’s tough hearing that kind of feedback. But, you have to pull yourself together and put together a plan together to get the project done. That may mean asking your supervisor for clarification on direction or more guidance. Id also tell your supervisor you appreciate the feedback and depending on your relationship you might also apologize for losing your composure. But the focus of the conversation should be about the project, not your apology.

  58. Your Mileage May Vary*

    Alison, the university where I’m getting my graduate degree has a class that’s required for their (undergrad) Seniors to take which teaches them how to write a resume, interview, etc. It’s purpose is to help them transition from the school world to the working world.

    I was helping the person who coordinates this class get their files in order and I mentioned they should use your book as the textbook for this class. And it’s textbook review time and they are looking at your book now! Fingers crossed that they actually adopt it as the text. It would be great to have a bunch of graduates getting accurate information (although they are pretty forward-thinking here; no objective on resumes but they still require pantyhose during the mock interviews).

  59. Anon for this*

    Hi guys – anon for this because I think I’m being totally petty and I really don’t want anyone who knows me to think I’m the total asshat that I think I am in this situation.

    Whenever I send out info to all users that something was fixed, or a status alert on something, I get a reply from someone in the organization who is very junior (I am not) saying things like “good job!” “Keep up the good work!”

    It feels so…patronizing. I’m pretty sure it’s not intended to be (but not 100% positive) and it’s always for really basic things. It’s very head patty for things that don’t warrant it and even if they did…

    Some technical things are so basic and comparable to getting copies made for a meeting. So it’s kind of the equivalent of someone very junior praising someone very senior for how nicely they made the copies for the meeting. It just feels weird.

    He does this to others, too and I know this because there is talk.

    The guy is smart and talented – and not a bad guy but very new to the work world and very arrogant. I am tolerant because I remember what it was like to enter the world when you came from the safe environment of school where if you were academically successful you kind of skated and people treated you differently. But it’s been a year and he’s been smacked down (metaphorically) a couple of times for treating the owners of the company like peers and it’s taking a while to change behavior.

    He’s completely outside of my wheelhouse – so am I a big wuss for just ignoring this? Because I’d feel so petty bringing it up.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      First, I love this question and would love to use it as a post on its own, but my basic advice is — say something to his manager. I’d totally talk to his manager and just say, “Can you tell Joe to knock this off (not just to me, but to others too)? It’s coming across as patronizing, which he probably doesn’t realize.”

      1. Jamie*

        Sorry – this anon person should have sent it in directly, but she probably thought it was too petty. :)

        And that’s a good idea keeping it light. My problem is that I don’t want to say anything casual when I’m annoyed – since I don’t want it to seem like it carries more weight than it does with me….and then once I’m not annoyed I forget till next time.

        Because it really is like ‘hey knock it off’ level of annoyance – not lets have a meeting level of ‘now I’m pissed.’

        So I should mention it now while I’m not annoyed but I haven’t forgotten it yet.

  60. KellyK*

    Since this is well beyond the scope of the original thread, I wanted to move it to an open one. I was talking socks on the “designer clothes” thread, and someone suggested Sock Dreams for thigh highs. I ordered a pair I really like (the Extraordinary Thigh Highs), although they are bit small for me. (They need to keep being pulled up throughout the day, but they don’t fall down when I’m walking down the hall or anything.) I’m hoping, because they’re knit, that it might be possible to basically re-block them to get a little more stretch, but I’m not sure how I’d go about that. Wearing them wet seems the m0st likely to work, but also the most annoying. Wetting them and pinning them to a flat surface, the same way I’d block something I had knitted, might be the better bet.

    So I wanted to say thanks for the recommendation, and second the suggestion of getting all kinds of good footwear from Sock Dreams.

  61. Rescinded Job Offer After 1st Day*

    I left this on another post but am really interested in opinions on whether you think this is fair:

    Last year, I received a job offer (in writing, specifying benefits & salary, signed by the COO, etc); I sent them my signed acceptance letter and they followed up several times–verbally and in writing–confirming my official start date.

    Excited, I quit my job (gave two weeks’ notice), turned down other opportunities & told my recruiter that I was no longer on the market.

    On my first day, they informed me $800 would be deducted from my paycheck monthly for health insurance (they originally told me insurance was free!). Coincidently, on the same day, I found out that I needed a minor in-office surgical procedure. I explained the situation to my direct supervisor & emphasized it wouldn’t interfere with my work–I just needed clarification regarding insurance.

    She tersely informed me that they couldn’t risk having an employee with a “health problem” (stitches on my knee!) & told me not to bother coming into work.

    Then I received a letter stating that my offer was rescinded due to my failure to show up at work!

    By the way, the job has still not been filled, even though they needed someone “yesterday.”

Comments are closed.