{ 885 comments… read them below }

  1. bemo12

    Yesterday, I was walking uptown (NYC) to a pre-planned interview when my phone rang. I answered it and it was a man from another job I applied to. He asked me if I had a few minutes to discuss my resume. I told him that I was walking and had somewhere to be, but if he could hear me, we could continue chatting. He said that it was a bit windy and I should duck in to a bodega or something so we could have a chat. I told him that I would love to chat, but at the moment I have to be somewhere and could we reschedule? He then responded, “Well obviously you’re not very committed to this position.” and hung up.

    Did I do something wrong or was he cray cray?

    1. Lindsay

      Sounds cray cray to me. Anyone reasonable would understand you might not be available to talk at that moment in time and reschedule for a better time.

    2. EnnVeeEl

      And if you hadn’t answered the phone, and simply returned his call at another time he wouldn’t have called you back.

      Move on, bullet dodged.

      Sometimes I think SOME hiring managers or HR pull these stunts to shorten their list of potential hires, i.e., lazy and incompetent. The fewer people they deal with, the lighter their work load.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        Yeah, I heard a joke about a hiring manager that would always throw half the resumes into the garbage unread. That’s because he didn’t want to hire anyone who was unlucky, and all of those applicants were.

    3. Emily

      I might even argue that the fact that he suggested you step into a bodega to continue your call is further evidence that he’s rude. Even though public cell phone conversations are increasingly common and sometimes unavoidable, they’re still annoying. That’s someone’s place of business. How would he like it if someone ducked into his office to “have a chat?”

    4. VictoriaHR

      It’s annoying as all hell to call someone to do a phone interview and they’re in a noisy place. BUT I always ask if it’s a good time to talk or if they needed to call me back, and I’m 100% fine if that’s what they need to do. He was a rude boogerface.

      1. bemo12

        Do you mean for a scheduled phone interview or just a first response?

        If it were scheduled I would be in a quiet place with good reception and treat it like an in person interview.

        But since this was out of the blue, and it was a strange number calling (I’m not one of those people afraid to answer my phone) I figured it was acceptable to be in a noisy or unfavorable environment. I didn’t even know who was calling.

        1. VictoriaHR

          No, I do pre-interview phone screens so this would be the initial call to get more information, like you received. It’s annoying when the person is in their car or the halls of school or whatnot, but I’m a-ok with the person asking to schedule a callback. Which your guy was not. Hence why he’s a boogerface.

          1. Sereba

            Obviously, this guy was nuts and it wouldn’t be worth asking for him… but generally speaking, would it be better to let it go to voicemail in cases like that? Or do you still prefer when someone actually answers and tells you that they have to reschedule? I’ve struggled with this when I was in similar situations and I’m still not sure if it’s better to just not answer (and assume they will leave their information so I can call back) or if that would cause me to miss my shot.

              1. Sereba

                True! But I meant, what would be the general preference for non-crazy pre-interview screeners? :)

                1. VictoriaHR

                  Yes, if you can’t talk right then, I’d prefer to just leave you a voicemail with my contact info so that you can call back when you’re available.

          2. Chocolate Teapot

            I have sometimes got calls at work when I have been applying for new jobs (I put my mobile number on the CV) and then had a snotty response to “No, I can’t talk now but perhaps we can schedule a proper meeting?”

            It all goes back to the fact that if they had read my CV further down than the mobile number, then they would know I was in a full time job!

            1. Kelly O

              I’ve always wondered that myself. Why, if my resume clearly shows I’m currently employed, do you call in the middle of a workday and act surprised that either I can’t talk or you got my voice mail?

              (I do occasionally answer the phone in the day. Sometimes my daughter’s daycare operator/workers will call from lines other than the main one, so if it’s a a Houston area code and I can, I will normally at least try to take the call.)

              1. Jessa

                Honestly, if you can’t talk at the time the call comes through (and emergency calls numbers should be in your contact list so even if they do not have caller ID, they should come up as Sam’s daycare, so you KNOW if it’s important,) you really shouldn’t answer the phone at all.

                And if they ask why when you call back “I’m sorry we’re required to keep the phone turned off during work hours, can we talk now or do you want to schedule something at a better time for you?”

                And yes if Sam’s daycare has 8 numbers you need to put all 8 in the contacts to make this work, but still. You should know who is calling.

                Also every job I’ve ever had that has a no calls rule, also has a specific way to pass on an emergency call to someone.

                1. Elizabeth

                  There are times when someone would be able to take some kinds of calls but not others, though. For example, I might be able to professionally take a quick call from my dentist’s office in the middle of the day, but if I were job-hunting and my employer didn’t know, I might not be able to do a phone screen with a potential interviewer without people catching on.

                  Actually, I usually let any unknown number go to voicemail, since telemarketers never leave messages but important people almost always do – but I don’t think people who answer unknown calls are wrong.

                2. Layla

                  My job requires me to answer calls on my mobile , and sometimes from unknown numbers

                  How will I know if the caller’s emergency is more important than the current issue / meeting I’m in if I don’t answer the call ?

                  I will find out what’s the callers issue before telling him that I can’t talk.
                  What’s the issue with this ?

            2. TheSnarkyB

              Perhaps “a proper meeting” was taking as you trying to sneak into an in-person interview?

    5. Kara

      That ish cray. Bullet dodged. Rude recruiters are THE WORST, and I feel like there are so many of them.

    6. Editor

      Sometimes I wish there was a Dante’s Inferno type of ranking for recruiters and employers. So, for instance, a company with an automated job application system that requires a lot of finicky data entry but times out without saving things might be halfway down to the worst hell. A mediocre application system might not be ranked so badly.

      So is a recruiter who demands immediate attention and is rude the worst thing, or is the unprepared interviewer (downthread) worse? And where does dinner-with-SO-or-spouse with interviewers and their spouses rank?

    7. Waiting Patiently

      def cray cray of him to question your commitment to the position.

      When I get into interview mode or anything big like a presentation or something I ‘tune out’ at least an hour leading up to it. So I let my phone go to voice mail. I don’t want the added pressure of possibly having to deal with something right before something like an interview or presentation. On a rare occasion it has happened and I got through it. One time my boyfriend wanted to come with me to an interview and sit in the car so we could have lunch afterwards …I said “No. Wish me luck and I’ll see you when I get back…”

      Plus, I wouldn’t have been able to answer the phone –and chatted about my resume while walking to another interview–that’s way too much of a distraction for me. It sounds like it would have worked for you though.

      1. bemo12

        Yeah, well I’m very different. I try not to think about interviews right before they happen and just trust that I am adequately prepared.

        Kind of like the cramming vs. the long-term studying. I don’t think either is wrong, just different strokes.

        Plus I have been interviewing a lot the past two weeks so I have been constantly prepared.

        On a side note, I got a job offer this afternoon and the CEO is flying in personally from the left coast to meet me on Monday to hammer out brass tacks.

        1. Waiting Patiently

          Congrats on your job offer!
          I get what you’re saying. I take my 30 min or so to relax, clear my mind or listen to my fav music.

    8. PB

      Definitely not wrong I think. I was hoping there would be questions about phone interviews today. I have my first ever in a handful of weeks (only ever done in-person ones before) so hoping to pick up some tips. I am so worried that something like this will happen where I’m in a lab in the middle of an experiment or on my home day with a preschooler yelling in the background!

        1. PB

          Glad to hear that people handling recruiting are normal – I haven’t yet run into anything odd or rude but trying to think what I would do if I did. I am pretty excited as the role is industry-based and I can get back to my continuous improvement roots (been in academia for a while which has it’s perks, but it is hard to progress especially now with funding cuts and tight budgets).

    9. Josh S

      The only thing I might suggest to you for the future is to say, “I’m about to walk into a meeting/appointment, can we talk later?” rather than just “somewhere to be.” For whatever reason, the meeting sounds more legit/professional-related than the dance club/haircut that I think of when someone says they need to ‘be somewhere’.

      That said, you didn’t do a dang thing wrong, this guy was crazy, and you dodged a bullet.

      1. Country Bumpkin

        I guess I would be particularly interested in writing about work as a non-anonymous blogger. I have a blog in my field (working with children) that is growing in readership and I’d love some guidelines about running a blog and how to enhance your career that way. Does that make sense?

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I actually started out anonymous, but I shed the anonymity in 2008 when U.S. News asked me to write for them, and then I figured the jig was up anyway.

          Here’s two things I’ve written about blogging and how it relates to your career, which might help:
          https://www.askamanager.org/2008/10/how-does-blogging-affect-job-hunting.html

          http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2011/11/23/how-blogging-can-help-your-career

          (Let me know if there’s something specific that’s not answered.)

      2. Country Bumpkin

        I just wanted to add that I am starting a new job in the next few weeks and am so excited! I used your eBook to prep and was way more confident than in my last few interviews. They called me to offer the job and said that I was the unanimous first choice (5 people interviewed me).

        It’s a manager job so I’m currently reading your book on my Kindle to prep for having a couple people below me for the first time. Thank you, thank you!

      3. Mike C.

        You don’t mind about behind the scenes stuff? Awesome, I’m always afraid to ask because it feels too personal.

        I’m a big analytical nerd, and if you’re comfortable discussing the issue of traffic I’m curious – are there any interesting trends in the data? Particular areas where you have lots of readership, times of the day that you get a lot of traffic, weird search terms that people have used to get to your site?

        I always find that stuff so fascinating! :)

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Me too! Yay for someone asking about it!

          So I get the most traffic Monday through Wednesday, slightly less Thursday, slightly less than that on Friday. Weekend days are about half of an average weekday. On weekdays, traffic peaks between noon and about 3:00 EST, then steadily falls starting at about 5 p.m. and remains lower until early the next morning. So clearly people are doing most of their reading at work!

          About 70% of visitors are in the U.S., followed by (in this order): Canada, UK, Australia, India.

          Search terms people use to get here are CRAZY. Recently one was “coworker butt implant.” I was desperately hoping they’d write me a letter about it, but they never did.

          1. Jamie

            I love this – stats! Interesting that its exactly what I’ve found for response when we send out email newsletters. I will only send M-W otherwise open rates drop sharply.

            I used to run a website and loved seeing what google searches brought people there. Weirdest? “Grape jelly dishwasher sex.”

            I still have no idea what that is.

          2. Joey

            That mirrors most workplaces. In most places ive been M-W typically has the best attendance/production and it trends steadily downward through Sunday.

          3. Sarah

            I’m curious how many reader questions you receive everyday. As well, I am interested in the costs associated with running a large blog. I have heard that hosting costs can be really high.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I get about 30 questions a day (up from about 20 just 6 months ago). If they don’t get answered here, I try to send them a quick answer (meaning 2-3 sentences, usually, or a link to previous post that’s relevant) privately — although I don’t know how much longer that will be sustainable since the quantity keeps going up.

              I pay $100/month for hosting costs (but I used to pay a lot less; I upgraded when my traffic went up, to keep up with it), and I periodically hire someone (the fabulous Laura Moore of http://smallestdecisions.net) when I need something done that’s more technical than I can do myself. I also pay a small monthly fee to ejunkie.com for handling sales of my ebook (which is well worth it; I don’t have to do any work at all to send those out or collect payment).

          4. Joey

            What percentage of questions do you answer?
            Do you have a lot of frequent question askers?
            Do you have a mental picture of some commenters?

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Ha! I totally have a mental picture of regular commenters. If I could draw, I would draw you all pictures of yourselves.

              At 30 questions a day, I’d say that one-third of them get answered here (between short-answer posts and regular answers), and most of the others get a quick answer privately … but about 5% get nothing, and I always feel guilty about that. (I always intend to answer nearly all of them, but I put some of them aside for later, thinking they’ll become a post, but that doesn’t always happen).

              The short-answer posts have been hugely helpful in getting a lot of stuff answered all at once.

              There’s a small handful of frequent question askers, but I think most of the others are one or two timers. I like the frequent ones though, so no one should feel shy about repeats!

              1. Malissa

                Has anybody’s appearance surprised you once you’ve seen their picture, like over in the Linked in group?

                1. I wish I could say

                  As with a condom (Haha – I kid, I kid. . .), I wonder, as a manager, what is your take on employees reading a blog such a this one on their work time? Of course, I kind of feel that it’s justified because it’s a fab-u-lous sharing/griping/venting/so-good-to-discover-that-I am-not-alone-in-that learning tool.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Malissa: Hmmm, not pictures so much, but sometimes people mention something about their appearance or age and I’m surprised. It goes both ways, I guess — I remember readers being surprised to discover I was female when I dropped the anonymity several years ago!

                  I Wish I Could Say: Hey, it’s professional development!

                3. Jamie

                  Alison, I don’t know if you were kidding – but it totally is professional development.

                  Look I’m not going to claim that this is some kind of sterile learning environment for me – there is a definite and significant social component for me and – its my favorite little community online or off. But in all seriousness I really think it depends on the job for me. My job requires a lot of hours in the office and being on call …so I don’t feel as bad spending time checking AAM and sometimes posting like its my job because trust me when I tell you I’ve put in my hours of straight work and then some. And it does lessen the pressure and resentment for me – because lines blur for me. If I get up in the middle of the night, dinner, a movie to deal with work (and I do) then to have an issue with my AAM fix during the day would be very one sided.

                  However, if I were hourly and billing them for OT because I spent more time here than breaks, lunch, reasonable mental breaks then that would feel unethical and wouldn’t do it.

                  I still sometimes feel guilty, because if I were working at 100% all the time I am crazy productive. But it’s easy to overload and burnout, so its a delicate dance. And I truly, honestly, have learned more here from Alison and the commenters than anywhere else. My job can be somewhat insular and you guys are my window to the greater world outside of my one person tech department in a niche industry. And it’s validating as a lot of times you guys confirm that my instincts are right – in addition to pointing out things that wouldn’t occur to me.

                  There have absolutely been times I’ve been at my wits end and coming here has restored my sanity and kept me from making a rash decision.

                  I don’t know what I would do without you all.

                4. Joey

                  Yep, I agree it truly is professional development, especially if you are a manager and actively comment. It’s practice with a whole lot of feedback.

                  Now I wouldn’t spend all day at work here(sorry Alison), but short mind breaks from the grind to polish your decision making skills- I think it keeps people sharp.

                5. Liz in a Library

                  About the professional development thing…

                  My last boss (who was awesome in more ways than just this) was super supportive of me reading AAM at work. We were gearing me up for managing more/higher level staff down the road, and she though this was a great way to learn secondhand. She even (informally) mentioned my interest in the site as a good sign of my desire to develop in a review once! So yeah–it’s very much legitimately PD material.

              2. danr

                Ok, I’ll keep asking. (grin). I wish I had found AAM earlier. It would have helped me understand what my manager called ‘business commonsense’. I see it in many of the comments here, and I’ve learned a great deal from them.

              3. Just A Reader

                Alison, please don’t forget to answer my email. All I need is a yes or no answer.

          5. Carrie in Scotland

            Yey, the UK!! I recommend your blog to anyone I know that is job hunting and I love that you seem to balance being sane and reasonabe with the slightly stranger posts.

        2. khilde

          I felt the same way as you, Mike C., and now it’s nice to know she’ll be happy to answer those questions!! I always forget about the open threads so will have to remember to save up all my wonky questions for then.

          I’m the type of person that sees a movie that I really liked and then spends the next week reading everything I can about the actors in real life. And watching the actor interviews, etc. To me there’s something a million times more interesting about the REAL person than the public persona. I’m always hoping they are as genuine and nice in real life as their character in the show was.

      4. TheSnarkyB

        Ooh, I love behind the scenes/stats – I didn’t realize we could write in asking things like that.

        Do regular commenters write in and then reply to the comments as “OP” or “anonymous”? I’ve thought about writing you a question and I’ve wondered whether you’d (at my request) post it as “TheSnarkyB writes…” and then whether I’d want to comment on my own question as myself or as someone else. I guess it depends what I ask about.

        Your thoughts?

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Totally your call! I’d never out a commenter if I were posting their question, unless they specifically told me that I could. I’ve seen regular commenters say “this was my question” in the comments, but I also think some people choose not to, depending on the nature of the question.

          (As a side note, I get a TON of letters from people who say “please don’t print my name,” which I always think is funny, because I wonder if they think I’m just going to decide to spice it up one day and starting printing names and it’ll happen to be theirs.)

          1. TheSnarkyB

            Hahahaha the thought of you being that f*ed up and cold cracks me up.

            Like I picture you sitting at your computer and being like, hey Jane Elizabeth Doe, THAT’S WHAT YOU GET for asking “is it illegal!” Final straw! I’ll teach them all a lesson!
            *muuu hahahhaa* evil laughter here

          2. Jamie

            I haven’t done that in years! Hee. Seriously I’m just paranoid.

            It’s funny, I haven’t asked a an official AAM question in ages…but it’s because my workplace issues can all be answered from the archives or just internalized AAM knowledge I have now. And the ones that can’t are just problems because I’m petty or weird political problems that I know the answers to, but am either too cowardly or too apathetic to address. And to be fair – poor Alison shouldn’t be subjected to the terrifying dark corners of my workplace psyche…:)

  2. confused!

    AAM’ings, I need your advice!

    So, I work for a traditionally underpaid industry on the east coast (it’s a creative one, and not very hard to guess…). Basically, benefits are great but entry level ‘salaries’ border on poverty-levels, and promotions are years in coming, so there is very little upward mobility.

    Because I’m a proactive, type A personality (an anomaly in my industry, which is typically very laid back), I was promoted after just over a year, and received three merit-based raises (the last one late last year) over the last two years here. The problem is, three raises of a really low number is still a low number. I’m still living at home because I can’t afford rent, and my living situation (I’m almost thirty years old) is getting to be a huge source of frustration for me.

    Normally I would talk to my manager about this to see if she can advocate for a bump, but the company is in the process of merging with our biggest industry competitor (the merger should be finalized in the last quarter of this year), so I’m reluctant to make myself a target when pink slips may be rolling out once the merger is finalized.

    Meanwhile, a known competitor to our company has been in touch with me about a position that is bound to pay better, but involves relocation. I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity because it’s a much more challenging job in a culture much closer to my personality (very driven and forward thinking), but it’s really tough to think about moving away from my family.

    Whew. So my questions!
    a) Should I talk to my manager about the pay thing, or is it not worth the risk at this time?
    b) Should I talk to HR and see if raises may be a possibility once the merger completes?
    c) Should I just write off my current co. and take this other opportunity if it’s offered (i.e. put on my big kid underwear and suck up the fact that I can’t be close to home forever)?

    SOMEBODY MAKE THIS DECISION FOR ME!

    1. Malissa

      Honestly, it sounds like the new company would be a better fit for you anyway. I’d explore that first.

      1. confused!

        It does seem that way. I admit, a big part of me is just terrified of moving so far away from home (and across the country, no less). The rest of it kind of sounds completely perfect.

    2. Jane Doe

      Given that your company is going through a merger (are you part of the acquiring company or the company being acquired?), I’d start looking around anyway because your manager might not have the final say in who gets laid off if some positions become redundant.

      If it were me, I’d be looking for a higher-paying position outside the company because even if you got a raise, would it be enough that you could live outside your parents’ house comfortably?

      1. confused!

        My co’ is definitely the one being acquired (no matter how many feel-good-hugs-and-kisses-kumbaya press releases they send out). The odds of my specific department becoming redundant (at least anytime soon) are pretty slim, but it’s definitely a possibility.

        And you make a good point. I’d need a 20-30% increase to be able to live independently (and that’s on a ramen-noodle diet…)

        1. Malissa

          Then you need to look at cost of living in the new area as well. It might be more or less affordable than where you are now.

    3. Lore

      As someone who works in the same industry and possibly the same company (and has been in a similar position several times), here are my thoughts.

      I don’t think you’re going to get any information you can count on from option b. Also, in my experience with other similar mergers, there hasn’t been any attempt to equalize salaries when, say, a department merges with another one that contains people with equivalent titles. So I think you’re unlikely to get a raise just by virtue of the merger–but I do think that possible new structures could create opportunities that might help. (Or not. It’s really hard to say.) I think, if your manager values you–and it sounds like she does, if you’ve gotten several merit raises and a promotion in two years–you’re not making yourself a target by expressing your concerns, but I don’t know that she’ll be able to make you promises at this particular moment, either.

      And, for option c: I would say you have nothing to lose by investigating the other opportunity, and finding out if it is really what you want. If it’s the competitor I think it is, the interview process itself will be very informative! You’re not committing to moving far away from your family forever, and being really successful at a higher salary elsewhere is probably the best way to get a substantial salary bump if you later wanted to return to the east coast and stay in the industry.

      1. confused!

        Wow, this was hugely helpful, thank you!! (btw, I’m almost 100% positive your guesses are right-on-the-money…) It’s especially helpful you hear somebody say straight out that the salaries aren’t likely to equalize (as I’m sure you’ve noticed, this question has been frequent water-cooler fodder).

        I’m sure my manager won’t be able to make any promises, just like you said. I think I’m just wondering if I should be up-front about all of this with her, even though it might be disappointing. I’d hate to make things awkward, and I feel like a lot of the websites I’ve read are all “never tell your boss you’re leaving because of money!” but I’d really rather just be honest, because I hate prevaricating.

        And I think I just need to keep reminding myself that I’m a grown up and relocating is just a part of adulthood and that I can live without my sister. Somehow. I’m pretty sure.

        1. Lore

          I would go farther in pursuing option c, and maybe look around and see if there are any other, local opportunities that look promising. A conversation with your current boss is probably a good idea before you accept any other offer, but you want to be very sure of what you’re asking from her, and what you’re going to do if she can’t do what you need her to (or can’t give you any assurances at all right now). It’s really scary to tell your boss you have another job offer and are considering leaving (something else I’ve done recently), but if your boss values you and you have a good relationship, how she responds to that conversation will be a crucial piece of info in your final decision. (In my case, my boss was great and it led to my deciding to wait and see what happens, which waiting period I am still in, so… But there wasn’t a substantive raise involved, so I really was making a decision on fit and culture and so forth, which is a different situation.)

          Remember also that if you’re looking at a substantial salary bump, more frequent travel becomes a more viable option. Across the country is far, but it’s doable for a four-day weekend if you can put up with red-eyes.

    4. KC

      Go for the new opportunity! Moving away is scary, but it’s also liberating. Also keep in mind regarding living situations that you can totally find potential roommates on sites like Craigslist (I’d insist on Skype interviewing them in advance, of course, to avoid creepers), so the thought of affording living on your own shouldn’t be too scary.

      Go have an adventure for yourself!

      1. Liz in the City

        My 2 cents — try the job that farther away from your family for a change. Echoing what others have said, you’re not setting yourself up for a lifetime of living far away from them, plus a little adventure might be fun. You’ll get a change of scenery, the chance to live on your own, and the opportunity to live somewhere else. Plus, that’s what airplanes, cars, trains, or buses (whichever is the best option for visiting) is for ;)

        Or, you could end up like me, and have your parents move by you after a few years. You never know…

      2. Jessa

        Exactly. Also, I get a vibe that the job is not a great fit for the OP’s personality and the new job has a much better corporate culture.

        Also anything your current boss says, might be totally moot after the merger.

    5. Jazzy Red

      You’re young and unencumbered. Have an adventure now, while you don’t have other responsibilities. You don’t want to look back in 10 years and think that you should have at least tried it. (And I have a feeling you’ll like it!)

    6. LMW

      I was in the same place at 30 (minus the merger stress). Creative job, low pay. It was so hard to leave my company because I had been successful in my role and loved the job — but it was a wonderful decision to move elsewhere in the end. Better fit for me (because I’m more ambitious than the typical person in the role) and, wow, making enough money to pay my bills, save some, and actually have some fun is kind of life changing! Change is hard, but it’s also good for you.

    7. Diane

      Go. You will feel so empowered by taking a new job and making a place for yourself in a new city that you’ll manage the change and distance–and you’ll put yourself in a position to come back to a much better job in the future.

    8. Brooke

      I also think that you should take the new job. But, knowing how hard it is for me to accept/welcome change in my life, I would probably be one of the ones who stays at the current job. I was thinking an option might be this: If you really like your current job and like the location and most everything about it (except the pay, of course), why not get a second part-time job a couple days a week to help with the pay? You mentioned that you didn’t want to move away from your family and to me, that seems like you’re talking about your parents and that you don’t have a family of your own (husband/wife and kids) so a part-time second job might be an option? Before I got married and had my son, I worked one full time job and one part-time job (just a few days a week, and I could have worked the part-time job less if I had wanted to) and by doing that, I was able to afford to move out of my parents house AND I had the benefit of meeting new people and making new friends. I personally loved working two jobs! It’s not for everyone, but I thought I might toss it out there as an option.

    9. The IT Manager

      I would personally go for C and even recommend it for you. It sounds like your best reason for staying put is the comfort of the known enviroment, and that’s a bad reason. But I was in the military so I moved away from my home and moved around a lot so far in my career.

      Two things to think about to help fight the homesickness, though. For you to make this decision the job across the country should pay enough to allow you to make a couple of plane trips home a year. You company should offer enough time off that you can take a long enough vacation to make the cross country flights worthwhile.

    10. Not So NewReader

      I’m a little late in chiming in here- but my two cents worth is this:
      Read every business article you can find about this merger/acquisition. From what I have seen friends go through they learned more on the internet than anyone would tell them at work. Look up the “parent-to-be” company on Glassdoor.com. If the company is on the stock market check out the market sites to see what they are talking about.
      Do the same with your competitor.
      Just keep reading until something clicks with you “I want to go in THIS direction.”

    11. Anonymous

      INTERVIEW & SEE IF YOU LIKE THEM.
      If it sounds like a match for both parties, & they make a good offer, go for it. Do some research on cost of living in that location, so that you’ll know what a good offer looks like. You’ll need to comfortably cover your basics (make a list – rent, renters insurance, utilities; commuting, etc) & have savings for emergencies, travel & entertainment, & your future. Have fun investigating, & exploring options.

  3. Lindsay

    Has anyone heard of someone appealing someone appealing a termination and having it be successful.

    I was fired recently for a reason I felt to be a little ridiculous (I had worked a 21 hour shift and at the very end of it printed a report for the wrong date) and I had never had any negative feedback prior to this incident. Usual protocol for anything other than gross misconduct is that we work through a progression of verbal warning, written warning, suspension, and then only after that termination.

    I appealed with HR for them not following the usual discipline escalation, and for not putting me on a PIP to enable me to improve my performance. I’m not really holding out hope of it being successful since I’m at-will and they can legally fire me for any reason whatsoever, and I’ve since found another job.

    I’m just mostly curious whether it ever actually happens that a termination is overturned and how it is handled – I know I wouldn’t have wanted to return to working under a manager that wanted to fire me anyway.

    1. Lindsay

      Wow, I can’t type. The first sentence should be:

      “Has anyone heard of someone successfully appealing a termination?”

    2. FormerManager

      I’ve really only heard of terminations being overturned with government-type jobs. What are you hoping to accomplish by getting it overturned, especially since you have another position? If you’re worried about what the company will say for a future reference check, you could try to negotiate something where they change your discharge to a voluntary quit or even a neutral reference.

      (If it helps, I have a black mark like that in my work history and I’ve gone on to other jobs and been promoted. Plus, I’ve fired people–for legitimate reasons–who’ve gone on to better jobs.

      1. Lindsay

        I appealed before I had another job. My previous position was also better paying than my current job.

        I was basically hoping to either be transferred to another department in the company (I have the knowledge to work in other departments – it’s a retail type environment – and I know a couple supervisors who would be glad to have me), or to have my “no rehire” status overturned and have them say I was laid off rather than fired when references were checked. Now that I have a new job I’m not really concerned about any of the above but saw no reason to rescind my appeal either.

        1. FormerManager

          You could try reaching out to the other supervisors and see if they could work with HR to change your status. It might help to let the situation die down for a few months too.

    3. Mike C.

      To be honest, if your company is run by fundamentally reasonable people, you should have a good shot.

    4. Joey

      That may be the reason they told you or the way you remember it, but I doubt that’s the whole reason you were fired.

      1. Katie the Fed

        It could very well be the case, but I would guess the severity of the mistake was a factor. Like, if printing out the wrong report date led to a patient getting the wrong medications – that’s a pretty big deal.

        1. Jamie

          If hats the case where typos can have dire comsequemces the employer has no business allowing anyone to work a 21 hour shift (ever, really, that’s crazy) or not having checks and valances to catch errors.

          1. Jamie

            Balances – not valances. Curtain ruffles are not helpful in this instance.

            I need to get my keyboard.

        2. Lindsay

          It was not a life or death mistake, but it was very noticeable. It was a revenue report that gets submitted to accounting. Accounting inputs the information into their own reports, and that information gets distributed to all the department managers in their morning meeting.

          So our numbers did not match the numbers that department was reporting for revenue and the discrepancy was noticed in the meeting. They checked why, and it was because I had given accounting the report for the wrong date (and accounting failed to notice that it was the wrong date and inputted it).

          But, as I responded above, there were mitigating factors.

      2. Lindsay

        Yeah that’s the reason on the paperwork. I got the impression from my boss when he fired me that he was under severe pressure to “do something” to fix his departments otherwise he would be the one getting fired, and that firing me was “something” that he could point to to buy himself a couple more weeks.

        He had been job searching prior, told me he had been written up more than once that week, and he actually left his position yesterday for a new opportunity.

    5. Construction HR

      We brought back (with a raise) a person who failed a drug test after she submitted an EEOC complaint. It turned out that there was a huge violation of testing protocols by the person who administered the test.

    6. Chriama

      IANAL but I seem to remember that a company must follow whatever procedures set out in the company handbook. So if they’re supposed to go through these stages before firing someone, they are legally held to whatever promises they made. In any case, it might be worth your while to have a lawyer write a strongly worded letter telling them to rescind your ‘ineligible for rehire’ status since it could affect your future employability.

      Are you appealing directly with the company’s HR department though? Because I suspect that’s not likely to bring about any meaningful result. Some sort of official external party (like a lawyer) is going to be necessary to kick the company into action.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Watch for wording in the handbook like “company reserves the right to follow a different procedure at its own discretion” or anything else that basically says they aren’t held to the policy 100% of the time. Smart companies include that.

      2. Lindsay

        Yeah, it’s definitely not something that is worth bringing a lawyer into. If I had known how quickly I would have gotten another job I probably would not have appealed at all but I was worried about being across the country from where I grew up with little support net and having a company I worked for reporting I was fired.

        I did appeal with my company’s HR department and I kind of suspected it was the case that nothing would come of it.

    7. Neeta

      I can understand getting to an agreement so they don’t provide a negative feedback during background checks. But otherwise, I wouldn’t do such a thing.

      If they fired me, I’m thinking that it’s impossible not to have resentments both from me, and from the person who mistakenly fired me and then had to apologize.
      If this were the case, I really can’t see myself going back to work in such an environment. I’d have to constantly watch my back, in case someone’s just waiting to find some minor fault with me.

  4. kasey

    What is with interviewers (not really hiring managers) not being at all prepared for interviews? They are late, don’t ask what they want or need to ask and then as me for a second interview. Why not fewer questions about what my superpower would be, mk? They actually(!) tell me they have not read or seen my resume, so do I have any relevant experience… What the hell? I prepare, you prepare (a little at least). I am either offer to come back another time when (you) are prepared or ask why is that? I am an idiot magnet.

    1. Colleen

      That is tough. I guess when this type of thing happens, it gives you an insight into the interworkings of the company. Then you can ask yourself, is this the type of company I would want to work for. I hope you find some serious interviwers soon.

    2. not just you...

      I once had a second round interview where the hiring manager didn’t bother having any of my application materials in front of him–or even a pen and paper to take notes.

      I left the interview and withdrew my name from consideration. Thanks, but I expect my employer to do equal due diligence to my own preparations.

      1. kasey

        One told me yesterday that he had not seen my resume, then he put it in front of him and said he needs a few minutes to read it. Ugh. Yup I withdrew, as soon as I got home. It’s a two way street. It is just so ineffective to operate this way.

        1. not just you...

          I just think of it this way–we may waste our time, but they’re losing out on some of the most marketable employees, because marketable employees know what they’re worth and treat the interview process as a distinctly 2 way street.

        2. Frances

          That is so disrespectful, and so telling of their attitude towards employees. I find that companies like that are the kind that then wind up whining that they can’t find any good candidates, not knowing they are driving them all off during the interviews.

      2. Lisa

        Did you leave in the middle of the interview? I’ve done that! I was not meant to sell knives to my friends and family… 1.5 hours into a group interview with other college kids that didn’t know how to leave, I interrupted the constant talker / interviewer that didn’t breath and said, this isn’t for me, so I am going to go. My only regret was not turning to the group and asking if anyone wanted to leave with me.

        1. FormerManager

          I think I know that particular company….they (or a similar company) mailed out letters to all the people who graduated in my high school senior class to schedule interviews. Everyone I know who did it said it was a bizarre, demeaning experience overall.

        2. Jubilance

          Ahh the Vector scam! Sadly I think its a rite of passage for college kids to get taken by that “job”. And even though their selling & staffing tactics are sleazy, the knives are actually great. I wound up buying a set when I was old enough to actually afford them.

          1. FormerManager

            The sad part is that little, naive old me threw a fit because my parents wouldn’t let me go for an interview.

          2. College Career Counselor

            Vector is all over college campuses. Some students do really well (I used to get updates on the really good summer sales associates, complete with amount of merchandise sold). What they don’t tell you, of course, is that direct sales is really hard and it takes a special personality (ie, aggressive and comfortable with rejection) to do well with this kind of work. My biggest complaint with Vector has been that they focus on the $$ you can make in their pitch to naive college students and that, as FormerManager noted, they have an absolutely huge funnel on the front end of their staffing acquisition process. I’ve seen a similar approach to sourcing candidates for “admissions officer” positions (read: salespeople) at for-profit universities…

            1. FormerManager

              Even sadder, they were trolling recent high school grads in my situation. In fact, we all got the letters less than two days after graduation.

            2. urban adventurer

              ooh… I’ve done the for-profit university thing. Complete scam. There’s a monthly “quota” of students you have to enroll, or you’re out the door. Then students drop off like flies as soon as they realize how expensive the school is and how few students actually graduate.

              SO glad I’m out of that!! I felt like I was ruining someone’s life every time I got an application.

              1. FormerManager

                There’s a for-profit college near me that boasts of its 100% of its graduates are employed. Digging deeper you find:

                A) All students are required to obtain a job in order to graduate
                B) This could be any job, even part-time work flipping burgers

        3. Liz T

          One of the cool things about my telesales job was that in the group interview there was a point where we were (genuinely) welcomed to leave if we thought this wasn’t for us.

      3. Anon

        Um, I just did a second round interview today and didn’t have the app materials and wouldn’t have normally taken notes if we hadn’t asked for a presentation and some specific questions. Not taking notes or having materials isn’t a black mark.

    3. Malissa

      Buyers market. Until employers are scrambling for good candidates again, some will act like jerks.

    4. VictoriaHR

      It’s rude, yes. However often hiring managers are swamped with their own duties that are outside the realm of hiring for a new person on their team, and then HR schedules an interview with them and they don’t have a chance to review the resume. A good hiring manager will make the time, but many can’t seem to figure out how to do that. Just remember that not everyone who interviews you does that for a living, and they have other duties that take up most of their day.

      1. AdAgencyChick

        Thank you! I thought I was the only person reading this who thought, “Can we cut the hiring manager a little slack?” With the economy in its present state, a lot of workers are being asked to do more with less, and often hiring is postponed until the workload is truly unmanageable. All of which means hiring managers are busy doing what it is they do all day, and as much as they want the help, they may not have time to properly prepare for an interview.

        I’ve also been asked by recruiters to schedule an interview on half a day’s notice. It’s not just candidates who get asked to do this, and either way, it stinks.

        I totally get that it’s annoying — YOU’VE spent all kinds of time prepping, and it seems like the hiring manager couldn’t be bothered even to read your resume. This could be an indicator of disrespect, but it could also be an indicator of your hiring manager having a very full plate.

        Note that I’m talking about the person who would be your boss. If you’re talking to an in-house *recruiter* who hasn’t bothered to review your materials, that’s bad — because vetting candidates is a major component of their job, not something they have to do on top of a bunch of other duties.

      2. Julie K

        This was true for me, but I blocked time in my schedule to spend at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled interview time so I could re-read the person’s resume (I generally read them as I received them and marked them up with questions, etc.). To be honest, I didn’t want to feel like an idiot by going into the interview without having looked over the materials the candidate had sent in. And to be fair, I was interviewing a maximum of probably 10 people per position, and I only had open positions once per year, if that. In a larger department that hires more frequently, I could see this happening. But I would hope the hiring manager would at least apologize (and be embarrassed) if she needed to take a few minutes at the beginning of the interview to read over the resume.

      3. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, I was wondering, too. Perhaps it is a job where only a few people apply because it is a specialty. But, still….

        This would not be a deal breaker for me. Matter of fact, I would wonder if it was a test to see how I would deal with co-workers/bosses/clients that were not up to speed as they should be. My second thought is that this is the times we have. People cannot keep up all the time, most of us lag behind on something.

        However, I would use that as a heads up and eye wide open warning. Lack of prep plus other issues- rudeness, chronic interruptions, scatter thoughts etc, would leave me seriously reconsidering my app.

    5. Lindsay

      So annoying. I’ve shown up for interviews where nobody was expecting me to show up that day.

      1. S. Martin

        I once showed up to a new job where nobody was expecting me that day! I should have just turned around and left…

        1. Diane

          On my first day, I was shown my office–a former conference room with furniture piled up and my desk on its side. The computer was in pieces. It’s like they didn’t expect me, except I’d interviewed in March, accepted the offer in April, and started in June. Yeah, it was a sign of a culture of paying attention only to the urgent fires at the expense of actual important things that would, you know, usually prevent the disasters in the first place.

    6. Anon

      To be fair, you have no idea what may have happened earlier in the day or the day before to throw the interviewer off their normal stride. Do you want me to hold it against you and your performance in the interview if, no matter how much prep you’ve done, you get a flat tire on the way and are flustered during the interview?

      1. VintageLydia

        A lot of hiring managers DO hold that type of thing against candidates. Even reasonable ones who might have a very tight timeline so they can’t reschedule. They might be sympathetic, but it’s still punishing the candidate. Interviewing is a two way street. If you’re not presenting the company at it’s best even during the interview stage (ESPECIALLY during the interview stage!) then candidates have every right to judge the company (and you) unfavorably.

  5. Colleen

    How should I handle a manager who does not understand what I do and seems to have little to no interest in understanding? He has been my direct manager for almost 2 years, and I have tried to talk with him (he is based in another state) to explain parts of what I do and, at times, all of what I do, but he doesn’t seem to grasp it. As an aside, he comes from a completely different function than I do — he is a finance guy and I am responsible for quality audits. Any suggestions?

      1. Colleen

        It is impacting my work in that 1) he doesn’t understand when I need to travel to do my work — he thinks everything can be done “remotely” and 2) he is committing me to do things without fully understanding whether or not I can do them. Then it is up to me to contact the requester and fill in the gaps and sometimes contradict my manager by saying that I cannot, in fact, do what he said I could do.

    1. Jamie

      Before I got to the end of your comment I was already thinking “sounds like an auditor.”

      Few things bore other people as much even managers – although if people would take the time to listen they’d see how useful and interesting the process is.

      Does he need to understand? If its not hurting you in a practical way and he’s just leaving it to your expertise I’d personally not worry…if its hurting you with performance reviews and money I’d call a meeting.

      1. the gold digger

        My former boss told me repeatedly that he didn’t understand what I did (he is not the one who hired me) and he thought it was “boring.”

        (How anyone can think cleaning data for an SAP conversion and coming up with a plan to get only good data into the system so managers can make good, fact-based decisions is “boring” is totally beyond me. I live and breathe this stuff.)

        He repeatedly cancelled our one on ones. I would try to explain what my team was doing and what we had accomplished in very solid terms, i.e., reduced credit holds 10% in six months – leading to quicker customer response and delivery times – because of data cleanup, and he would just say he didn’t get it.

        When it came time for him to cut his budget by 10% – mandatory layoffs from HQ, I was the one who was cut.

        I hope this will not be your experience, but for me, having a boss who didn’t understand what I did and worse, did not care, was very bad.

        1. Eric

          “(How anyone can think cleaning data for an SAP conversion and coming up with a plan to get only good data into the system so managers can make good, fact-based decisions is “boring” is totally beyond me. I live and breathe this stuff.)”

          I do very similar work at my current position and I love love love it. Maybe we should start a support group? :)

          1. Jamie

            Ooh…me too? True story – before we started the path to ISO everyone gave a presentation on what our jobs entail. I was actually nervous that when people saw how cool my job was some would be gunning for it.

            It would be an understatement to say that it never happened…although several people asked how I could stand it. We’re a different breed…

        2. The IT Manager

          (How anyone can think cleaning data for an SAP conversion and coming up with a plan to get only good data into the system so managers can make good, fact-based decisions is “boring” is totally beyond me. I live and breathe this stuff.)

          Okay I admit I started to drift on the first sentence (it is almost quitting time), but by the end of your paragraph I have to agree. Sounds like a fun challenging job.

  6. Malissa

    I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to Alison and everybody here. I’ve learned lots here and I fly out tomorrow for a final interview next week. Using all of the things I’ve learned here I’ve managed to get a really good prospect 1,400 miles away from where I am. Plus I get to spend the weekend before the interview with my Mom.

  7. Jamie

    Who is off today for the holiday weekend? I am and actually took the last two days PTO because…well, I’m not burned out per se but defiantly have grill marks…but today is different.

    Days off when the office is open aren’t like real days off since I’m still on full availability so I never totally relax because every email ding makes me say very bad words and I clench until I open the email.

    Days off during the week when the company is closed are my favorite days ever – and I already feel like I’ve wasted half the day doing nothing except drinking coffee, posting, watching tv and …that’s it.

    Every weekend or day off I have these awesome plans for everything I’m going to get done around the house…and almost every time I waste so much time just puttering around. I need to be just as focused and motivated at home as I am at work…but I just get sucked into the abyss.

    1. Frances

      I am not off today, but I wish I was — not only because I’m in the process of moving and would dearly love to get in an extra day of packing, but because the holiday weekend means I’m getting a ton of phone calls about whether we are open this weekend (we have a public exhibition on our ground floor).

    2. Marmite

      I’m off today and forced to be at home because I don’t own a car and public transit in my area doesn’t run on bank holidays. It’s good for me, I’m getting job applications filled out and tidying up the house before my parents arrive tomorrow!

    3. Claire

      Nope! I was all frazzled because I left the house late this morning and there are two big knots of construction on my way to work, but I breezed through. I was mystified until I remembered lots of people have a three-day weekend. Hopefully that means that my afternoon job will be dead (it’s request-driven) and I can hang out in the Open Thread!

        1. Kate in Scotland

          Only a 3-day weekend in Scotland, technically (but lots of people get the 4-day one anyway, especially if you work for a company that is HQed in England). I took holiday this week, so I am having a 10-day weekend :)

          1. Carrie in Scotland

            Me too, 3 day weekend – although our shared office people (govt) were off today.
            And hey! We hace similar.names!

    4. Emsz

      I think just puttering about is sometimes best for our mental health. Last year I worked almost full time for a while, and in the evening I had to study for an exam I had to take. That summer I did not get many other things done, but after the working and the studying I really needed time to decompress. Doing nothing is an excellent way to do that.

    5. Jubilance

      I’m not off today :-( Tho it seems like lots of people either have been on vacation this week due to their kids’ spring break or they took PTO for today. My building has been quieter & there’s been a shorter wait for the elevators, which I appreciate.

      1. Ali

        I am not off either. The nature of my job (I work in media) means pretty much no holidays off, so I am never off for Christmas/Thanksgiving/July 4th either unless they fall on a weekday I am scheduled to be off. So, I have to work late night/overtime tonight. I’m getting tired of it, so a career change is going to be in my future sooner rather than later.

      2. De Minimis

        Not off here either…I think Easter is one of the few holidays that Federal employees don’t have.

        Also, spring break for the area schools [all the public schools as well as the local college] was last week, so this week has been the “back to work week” for most people.

    6. Sascha

      I’m not off, but I did work overtime last night and thus get to leave early because of the comp time. Which is nice, because I’m having a girl party tonight at my house.

      One of my friends told me she went on a cleaning frenzy after taking a 5 hour energy, and she was even scrubbing her baseboards. Perhaps you need one of those?…

    7. Liz T

      I’ve had the whole week off from my paid work, since I’m an SAT tutor and it’s spring break, but it has been a hellishly aggravating week in terms of my (unpaid) directing work. I’m almost starting to believe in astrology because apparently Wendesday was a “Monster Moon,” and it was definitely my worst day in quite a long time!

      But at least it’s happening when I don’t also have to teach.

    8. Kelly O

      I’m taking half a day.

      My husband’s office is closed (even though it’s his on-call weekend) and my daughter’s daycare is also closed, so I’m leaving to spend a little time with them.

      My mother in law fell and broke her hip a few weeks ago, and J is going out to El Paso to help her with getting home from the rehab facility, and fixing some things around her house that need done before she gets home. So it’s kind of a long-ish weekend to prepare everyone for that. (And, naturally do all our Easter stuff. I’m part of our program at church tonight, and then Sunday will be crazy/fun with the little one.)

    9. fposte

      I’m actually coming in to work this weekend–we were in the Midwestern blizzard belt at the beginning of the week and it absolutely killed my prep for some deadline stuff.

      There will be many Peeps sacrificed.

    10. Katie the Fed

      So I’m one of the many who is going to get furloughed this year, unless Congress comes up with a solution soon.

      I’m not happy about losing pay but man I’m looking forward to a day off every week. I already have lots of plans for that time :)

      1. De Minimis

        We just got the news about the cuts planned for my division…no furloughs as of yet, but it may still happen later on. We have a main office and then various field units, supposedly any furloughs would occur at the main office before they started doing any out in the field. The bad part is due to the CR we have to take all of the cuts right now, halfway through the fiscal year.

        They said expect 2014 to be difficult, so I assume we are in for more of the same, although I think it’s better to just know at the beginning that we will have cuts so in some ways it may be better.

      2. The IT Manager

        My agency is not furloughing, but I wish it were. I am paid well and frugal and I would enjoy the extra days off even if unpaid.

        If it was an option, I might try to get all my furloughed days in a large chunk and have a great long vacation, but that would play havoc on keeping up with work since everyone else would be working.

      3. littlemoose

        Yeah, I’m in the same boat. My agency is saying they want to avoid furloughs, but they may be inevitable. I’d rather just keep working.

    11. Diane

      I used to make detailed to-do lists for days off and weekends, then beat myself up for not accomplishing more than a few things. Then I decided my plan was just to relax. I ended up accomplishing a few things anyway, but I felt triumphant. So there’s that. If you can’t abandon to-do lists, if your plans involve “pet kitties” and “read AAM,” you can’t lose.

    12. Sabrina

      I’m off today but this is the first company that has Good Friday as a holiday that I’ve ever worked for in 15 years of working full time. It’s a nice perk. We get MLK Jr & President’s Day off too. I had a manager a couple of years ago who was right out of college and was lamenting that we didn’t get another day off until Memorial Day. Then I told her that I’m used to going from New Year’s to Memorial Day with no holidays and she stopped complaining.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        In the UK we have several ‘bank holidays’ but Scotland is a bit different as we have the 2nd January off – but we seemed to have sacrificed an August holiday, leaving us from May until Christmas day without an extra day off. What can I say?! Us Scots.like to celebrate NY! That said we have been lucky with the royal wedding/juvilee as they were days off if.you wanted them.

        1. Sabrina

          Yeah I’ve heard the UK is better for holidays at the first part of the year and that the US is better at the end. We get Independence Day in July, Labor Day in September, Thanksgiving in November, and then Christmas.

    13. The IT Manager

      I continue to lament the US government’s lack of Easter holiday because where I grew up and my family still lives the school kids (both public and Catholic) usually get the week before or after Easter off. My family always made a family celebration out of Easter. I’m missed out on a good Friday crawfish boil this morning. (Yes, my people do sort of miss the forget about fasting on Good Friday and instead eats large servings of seafood.)

      I am so with you about getting feeling like I accomplish nothing on holidays and weekends. I’m working on learning to consider a weekend successful if I manage to get my grocery shopping done and cook something that gives me some left overs for dinner the rest of the week. That’s really only maintenence, but that’s success at the moment.

      1. Chinook

        I am unemployed right now but usually get Good Friday off as a Stat. If I am in retail, I end up asking for the afternoon off as well as Thursday and Saturday evenings off for religious reasons. I envy all non Catholics because your long weekend is actually relaxing whereas mine is either filled with church services (because I am in the choir) or travelling to see family. I love summer long weekends because there are no religious obligations involved!

    14. Elizabeth West

      I took 3.5 hours of PTO today because I had to go to the doctor–I slipped on one of those stupid gum tree balls and smashed my knee. Verdict: possible injured meniscus. X-ray? No. Can I skate tomorrow?

      Well, I’m gonna. Hey, we have a show coming up!
      Okay, I promise–no jumping. It’s not my landing leg anyway. :)

      Also, I bought a bag of Easter M&Ms. Mmm.

    15. Michelle

      Yes! I get Friday and Monday off- I work for a Canadian university and they’re excellent with stat holidays. The only month without a statutory holiday this year is June.

    16. Natalie

      My office was closed today, but I would have taken it no matter what – I’ve spent most of the day baking for my cousin’s bridal shower tomorrow. Starting to wish I had taken Thursday, too.

      1. kle

        In Australia, absolutely nothing is open on Good Friday. Not even the supermarket. So I had Good Friday off, worked 4 hours on Easte Sat as I’m a beauty therapist (2.5x pay!), then Easter Sunday and Easter Monday off. It’s pretty unusual not to have a 4 day weekend unless you’re in a customer service industry.

    17. Lily

      I’m off but I worked from home this morning. Work is just more interesting … and I have so much that I want to do that I find long weekends frustrating!

  8. AA

    After a hiring process has dragged on for 2 months, I was told after the final interview last Wednesday that they would decide in a week. The internal recruiter has told me on multiple occasions that I am the only candidate in the pipeline. While I realize this doesn’t mean they will hire me, I’d think they could decide quickly since there aren’t more people to look at before they decide on me — it’s either start their search over or hire no one. The HM is very busy and not someone who does much hiring.

    Is it worth pinging the HR guy today? Half of me says why bother, because I am not on a deadline (employed and will stay put if this falls thru), but the other half of me is getting annoyed and impatient. I’m one who would be fine with a quick no!

    1. AA

      When I said decide on me, I meant decide yes or no for my candidacy, not that they WOULD decide to choose me.

    2. Anonymous

      Personally, I would check next week. At this point, they are half a day late in their “one week” estimate, and for some companies this is a short week. That doesn’t even allow for the reality that “one week” in hiring time can easily be two or three – Alison has written some great posts on this issue.

      My real question for you is whether you’re just basically impatient with the process at this point or don’t think you’ll be happy with the position. A HM who rarely has to hire and takes a long time doing it can actually be a good manager in a good company who wants to get it right when filling a key position. Or it could be a sign of an indecisive procrastinator who may drive you crazy. I wouldn’t assume the latter after only two months (I’ve hired people for positions open a lot longer than that!) especially given all the things that can impact the process, but I wouldn’t want you to ignore your instincts if there’s something about the position and the company that you’re not that enthusiastic.

      Please note that I said the position and the company. Ask yourself if there’s really a problem here or if you’re just frustrated. Frustration would be very human, but don’t let it cause you to throw away a good opportunity. If you’re frustrated, address it directly without cutting off your own nose. If there are problems with the potential fit of the job (real ones you can identify even after allowing for the length of the process) you don’t need an excuse to turn it down.

      Good luck.

      1. Rosalita

        Agree with Anonymous. I understand your frustration. Being on the employer side, the hiring process rarely goes as quickly as we’d like. Though we may be very excited about a candidate, there may be other factors getting in the way of making a decision or bringing the search to a close, and often those factors have nothing to do with the candidate.

      2. AA

        Thanks to you & Rosalita. I did restrain myself from calling today. I can probably wait until next Friday. My frustration is just with the hiring process, not the manager or position. They rescheduled an interview a couple times, and initially, the HR person had said an offer/decision would happen in late February, but they decided I had to talk to another person, which was the interview that was scheduled multiple times. Seems like there’s a communication gap between HR & the HM.

        I’m not waiting on them to go on with my life, but there are a couple big things that I’m planning on doing that I’d do differently if hired. I also had to say yes to a particular volunteer thing that’s tied to my job (tho not for my company) for April 26, and that will still likely be fine. If I was not getting such strong signals about the likelihood of an offer, I wouldn’t think twice about going on with business as usual, but I don’t want to commit to things that could look like bad decisions in another month.

  9. esra

    In line at Timmy’s, guy in front of me has a mullet and full Canadian Tuxedo.

    Just throwing that out there after the blue hair + fashion thread.

      1. Chinook

        I am impressed that you didn’t have to Google “Timmy’s”. Either you watch “How I Met Your Mother” or Timmy’s as campaign is actually working!

    1. Liz T

      My Canadian boyfriend had to point out to me a sly reference to the Canadian Tuxedo. (Affleck *almost* puts one on.)

    2. twentymilehike

      HAHAHA … There are so many mullets in my industry! My hubby had one in the 80s, with his curly hair it was lovingly referred to has a “mo-fro.” He’s decided to grow one again for fun this year …. going out in public with him is such a blast now. :)

  10. John Quincy Adding Machine

    I work at an ESL school that offers a business English/job skills class. One day I was subbing in the room where this class is held and the business teacher hadn’t cleaned up his materials from the morning class. He had the students writing cover letters, including two that were up on the white board, and they were awful — “I am a proactive self-starter” this and “I feel I am an ideal candidate” that. I was trying to think of a way to subtly point him towards AAM as a teaching tool, when I saw out of the corner of my eye a stack of printouts of one of Alison’s articles from U.S. News & World Report. So hope is not lost for these students!

  11. KittenMittens

    Here’s one I’ve been debating aking—I’m a contractor working at a big company through a recruiting agency. I’ve been with the recruiting agency/big company for a year and a half, and regretting every day that I made a really lowball hourly payment offer (I was dumb and desperate and didn’t understand how recruiting agencies work). Normally, if I wanted a raise, I’d make a case to manager, but my manager doesn’t have the power to give me one—he just pays the agency. (He can give me bonuses, which I have gotten a couple times for my awesome work.) If I was a freelancer, I’d just raise my rates. The recruiting agency doesn’t really care about my amazing work; they just care that I show up at work and make them money. If they give me a raise, they make less money, right? So how do I approach them to get a wage increase? Am I trapped with my hourly rate until I leave for somewhere else? I really like where I work, but I can’t afford to work here much longer. (For reference, my colleagues at the same level are making 1.5× to double what I do.)

    TL;DR: How do I ask a recruiting agency for a raise?

    1. Joey

      You don’t ask the recruiting company, you ask your boss. He may not directly pay you, but in the end he pays for your salary. Frequently the best way to get this type of increase is for your manager to contact the recruiting company directly and tell them to raise your pay. You’ll probably get nowhere going to the recruiting company because they won’t necessarily make less, but they don’t typically have the power to increase you pay (and the rate they charge) without getting approval from the company.

    2. perrik

      The contract between the client (your manager’s org) and the agency specifies the hourly rate that the client pays to the agency. The contract between the contractor (you) and the agency specifies the hourly rate that the agency pays to you, which is typically about 60% of what the client pays.

      In order for the agency to pay you what you’re actually worth, they will need to alter their contract with the client. In some cases an agency anxious to retain a well-regarded contractor working for an important client will give an increase by taking a slightly smaller cut. But that seems exceedingly unlikely in this case.

      Talk to your manager at the client site to express your concern that you are paid far below market rate, but would like to stay on this contract rather than leave to make an appropriate rate. The org can re-work the contract with the agency, if they want to keep you. You’ve also been there long enough so that, in a standard sort of arrangement, they can hire you directly without paying a huge fee to the agency (it’s usually a period of 12 full-time months or 2000 hours or something like that).

      Your manager might wonder what the hell you’re complaining about because he’s seen how much his org pays the agency, and doesn’t realize that you are getting significantly less. I once temped for a biotech which decided to hire me directly after several months. They were shocked at how little I was making (“but we’re paying the agency $X!), and decided to pay me what they were paying the agency. Instant 40% raise!

      If there are other contractors in your group, though, it seems like the manager cannot be ignorant of the fact that their agency rate is significantly higher than yours, unless all budget planning is done at a level above his? Otherwise he must have noticed that the quarterly department budget includes Fred and Jane at $X/hour for X hours, and KittenMittens at $2/3X for X hours.

      Of course, his higher-ups might be delighted that he has a bargain employee, and you’re screwed unless you leave.

      1. genuinelyamanda

        Yes, the request generally has to come from your manager, so talk to them first. Don’t get discouraged if it takes forever or doesn’t materialize though, you don’t always get to see what is going on behind the curtain in these things.

        I used to manage a department with two amazingly awesome contractors, and when time came to re-sign them for another year, I tried to get them a raise. It took forever and I had to get approval from my boss and boss’s boss and make sure I would be able to add the increase to my next year’s budget (and not go over budget for the rest of that year). Then came the fights with corporate HR group about why I wanted to give them a raise ( I don’t know, because they are flipping awesome at their jobs, have saved our plant 3X their combined salaries a year, have been on contract with us for 3 years with no raise…) followed by 500 questions from their agency….eventually they got their contracts renewed and received raises, but what an ordeal!

      2. KittenMittens

        Thanks for the food for thought! It’s highly unlikely that I’d be hired directly—all of the other contractors have been here for 5+ years. Two or three times a year, TPTB like to dangle the possibility of us all being converted to full time, but no one has been converted for 7 years.

    3. Colette

      A lot of big companies have limits to how long a contractor can work for them – you might want to make sure this one will let you stay on longer than it will take for you to get a raise.

  12. Emily

    I want to talk nail polish (and other beauty products) in the context of the workplace (and I want to hear about Jamie’s chip-proof polish, mentioned in the makeup in the bathroom thread earlier this week)!

    I’m in a very casual industry at a company with a liberal dress/appearance code. I hear and read people referring to work-appropriate polish and just can’t fathom having dark or bright nails being frowned upon. I’m actually curious to know how things like that are addressed—is it stated in a published policy or handbook that nail color must be this or must not be that? Or is it an unwritten rule, presumed to be common sense for employees in a particular office or industry that doesn’t allow painted nails, or nails painted unnaturally?

    1. Anonymous

      Depends on the industry, location, etc. In some like healthcare it’s generally a stated policy that you can’t have any nail polish on. In certain more conservative professions, it’s a know-your-office unwritten rule. I worked in healthcare law in small-town Texas for a while and my boss and I were the only ones who would wear like, neon purple nail polish (light pinks, etc. are acceptable). I now live in Boston and worked in a casual law firm and now a casual healthcare administration place, and having bright nails was/is no big deal (good for me!).

    2. Jamie

      I didn’t go yesterday, Ill get the name next time I go in.

      For me it’s not an official thing, and it may not be right or even nice, it’s just that I’ve noticed when among people whose styles tend toward the conservative the unconventional is commented upon. Tbh I do think it can hurt in an interview, because it can cast doubt on whether professional conventions will be observed (because until you know the culture erring on the side of caution is smart.)

      But it’s not like I’d dislike someone or want them fired for what I consider strange nail polish – but it just strikes me as odd. I’m talking about neon and leopard print on older women, which could just be my own conservative nature. I saw in the the hair color thread that there are plenty of women past their twenties that like to mix it up – and that’s great – it’s just uncommon enough in my world that people really notice.

      I’m just of the mind that its better to stand out because of what you bring to the table rather than appearance.

        1. Jamie

          Love – on others. My salon has tried to talk me into them when they see my shoes, but I have to explain that I’m only whimsical from the ankles down. :)

          1. karenb

            I wore lime green toenail polish for the longest time, cause it was the only place I could be crazy. I totally understand

            1. Jamie

              I go wild with toenail polish, too! No open toed shoes at work so its my little secret.

              I think I sounded harsher when first discussing this than I meant. I just meant that I. Conservative environs stuff is noticed…it shouldn’t matter and often doesn’t.

              I do recall working with someone who would often wear glitter eyeshadow and it was hard for me to look at her because all I could think of is a rubbed eye = scratched cornea.

              1. karenb

                Like really really glittery?? I wear “shimmery” eyeshadow, so now I have to worry about my corneas? Another thing to worry about…

                1. Jamie

                  No, no…glittery in that across a table you can see the square individual pieces of glitter. I love shimmery – this looked painful.

              2. Ruby

                Today my co-worker was talking to me at length about business issues, but I kept getting distracted by her bright glittery eye shadow. Half her lid was blue and the other half green, with a line separating the two. This woman is in her 50s.
                At least it was a break from staring at her enormously long french manicured fake nails.

    3. Frances

      I tend to look around and see what’s acceptable to others at my workplace. I tend to favor sparkly nail polish, but I have some front desk duties at my current work, so I stuck to almost translucent shades on my fingers for awhile — until the day my boss wore that black crackle stuff into the office. I still wear either no polish or neutral polish for work days where I have to look extra nice, though.

      And Maybelline has a new line (Color Studio, I think?) that has amazing bright colors and wears like iron — I have two different colors and both looked great with only minor chip touch ups for almost two weeks.

    4. Jubilance

      I think its industry specific. I’m sure a really buttoned-up law firm or financial firm probably frowns on bright nail colors. I’ve worked for 3 Fortune 100 companies and I’ve never had a problem with my bright nail polish. I haven’t done anything super crazy like patterns or anything, but my bright purple/blue/green/etc polish is fine. I sitck out more on the days when I DONT wear some type of polish.

    5. KayDay

      Unless there are health safety issues, issues of what colors are allowed most likely will not end up in the handbook. I would look around, but that’s hard because there are plenty of people who rarely wear nail polish, but who wouldn’t bat an eye at someone else with bright nails.

      Also depends on someone’s particular role. Someone who has to meet with clients usually needs to dress more conservatively than someone who stays in the office all day.

    6. KC

      I’ve never had an issue with nails being painted an interesting color being a taboo in the workplace. I also have tended to work in software-centric companies with a pretty young workforce. So things like blue hair or blue nails aren’t a big deal.

      And for chip-less nailpolish, I got this do-your-own-gels-at-home stuff from CVS and it is MAGIC. It’s definitely some work to take off and put on, but it lasts for 2 weeks and is SHINY and chip-free the whole time, so I consider it worth it (http://www.sensationailgel.com/).

    7. Nicole

      I meant to do this on the previous thread, but just as a PSA, in addition to Jamie’s fancy manicure polish, I found a new Wet ‘n Wild line of long lasting nail polishes that kind of changed my life. I usually count on my nice polishes just to last the weekend, and I just bought a cheap one for a fun color over a holiday and it turned out to actually be long lasting. I went out and bought 4 more.

      More on-point, in my case I think it’s office-specific. We don’t have a policy about polish colors, but everyone keeps it low key on the colors (of most things) in general just because you never want to be the one the owner calls out on something he notices in front of everyone. He “jokes” about things like that in the way that one uncle who teases you mercilessly might, but it’s pretty well established that it’s strike one and expect ongoing comments about it. Don’t have a vanity plate in his parking lot for customers to see, men keep all shirts tucked, cover up your tattoos, and don’t park like an idiot are a couple of other unofficial office policies.

      1. Jamie

        I’m all for policies against tapering like idiots, but this is the first I’ve heard of vanity plates being an issue.

        That’s not an easy fix if you have one – I can change my nail polish but I can’t just get new plates before the next work day. And I’m not killing my variety plates for anyone, anyway. :)

        An employer have have any criteria they want – I have no problem with that – but hopefully that would be conveyed in the interview or someone should run out and check plates before an offer was made. God help you if you didn’t drive your own car in.

        1. Nicole

          I was shocked how quickly it got changed once it was mentioned. I wouldn’t have made a point of it (you’re completely right), but to the owners credit, it was a new intern with a crazily painted Malibu that had a giant spoiler and the plate read DEATHCAR. We sell a high end service and do a lot of site tours, so he was just highly encouraged by the intern’s supervisor to change it as to not stay on the owners radar for the wrong reasons.

      2. Sandy

        “Don’t have a vanity plate in his parking lot for customers to see”

        Does he mean something like a front plate on your car with “Las Vegas” on it, or does he mean a customized plate from the state? I have a customized plate (with my car’s name on it, she’s a little full of herself) and I would be taken aback if my boss told me I had to change my actual lisence plate with the state.

        1. Jamie

          I have a snarky IT acronym which I wouldn’t change for anyone. Fortunately my employer thinks its hilarious.

          Every time someone honks at me on the Stevenson I wonder if its one of the people on forums who know it … But maybe I’m just a crappy driver. :)

            1. Jamie

              PRTFM (please read the f**king manual) I added the p to be polite…because I’m mannerly like that. It may or may not have a HK plate holder.

    8. Sascha

      I’ve never seen polish rules states in a handbook for any of my jobs, but I can imagine it would only be stated for things like health care, as others have mentioned. As for colors of polish…most of the time people don’t even notice unless you have really long nails. I have worn sparkly black (my favorite!) multiple times and no one has said a word, even when I was working at a much more conservative, uptight university.

    9. Kelly O

      Totally agree that this falls in the whole “unwritten rules of the office” category.

      I do really like having polish on my nails, and sometimes I do play with color (or texture… hello Zoya Pixie Dust!!) but what I keep on for work changes based on where I work, and to a larger point, what I do while I’m there.

      I don’t wear darker polishes when I do a lot of paperwork, because I find it more easily makes marks on the papers. If I’m out in front of everyone as the main receptionist/admin, I will be way more conservative than if I’m back in my own little cube.

      I’ve worked in more conservative offices where polish was either clear or very light, neutral colors on all the other women at the office, and I followed suit. Other places have been a little funkier, so I can do different colors.

      It’s just another “know your environment” sort of thing.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I recently discovered Zoya! It’s so pretty! I always break my nails, so I have to wait for them to grow out so I can wear it.
        There was a try-three-free thing a friend sent a code for, so I got purple, white, and black. :)

    10. fposte

      It’s generally an unwritten rule, in my experience. It falls into the area of “too picky to write a rule for but you should be able to figure it out from looking around.”

  13. E

    I love open threads! I’ve got two things, a question and a rant…

    Question: I’ve been working at my company, Chocolate Teapots Inc, for about 6 months. I started working there as a volunteer on a pro-bono project, they liked me a lot and decided to hire. However, they hired me through a temp agency, Teapot Temps. So I’m technically a temp, even though I’ve never done work for any other company through Teapot Temps and they did not assign me to Chocolate Teapots Inc. How do I say this on my resume? I don’t want to be disingenuous by just saying I work for Chocolate Teapots Inc, but I also don’t want to look like I’m just temping at random assignments. Help!

    Rant – I’m also on the lookout for other opportunities as Chocolate Teapots is far from ideal, and I’ve kept in touch with my old boss at a previous job. She told me (2 weeks ago) that they’d love to have me back and that she would let me know if any positions opened up. I was just randomly checking the job boards the other other day and saw that they just posted a job that I think I am very qualified for this week. But she never mentioned it to me! I know its very possible that she is just very busy, didn’t notice this job, or has some other totally reasonable explanation for not emailing me about it, but it still annoys me.

    1. Marmite

      I don’t know if it’s the correct way to do it, but my sister is in a similar position with her current job (paid by a temp agency but hired by them for this specific role and been there 18 months!) and she has it on her resume as:

      Chocolate Teapots Inc (Teapot Temps) January 2011-present

    2. Malissa

      On your rant, the boss may not have an actual clue about the opening. Sometime opening are really known to the people in the organization unless they are actively watching them.

      1. COT

        Yes–I work for a small organization (40ish people) and sometimes departures and openings aren’t communicated all that well even among such a small team. If you want the job contact your boss! She said she’d like to have you back–take her at her word and ask to be considered.

    3. perrik

      1. I handle it similar to the way Marmite’s sister does:
      Chocolate Teapots, Inc, January 1998 – August 2003 (employed through Teapot Temps January 1998 – April 2000)

      2. You talked to your old boss a couple weeks ago. This fab new job was just posted a couple days ago. Old Boss might be unaware of the position unless it’s in her own group. Now is the time to email Old Boss to say that you just saw a brand new posting and are excited by the possibility, can she tell you anything about it? (email gives her time to look it up)

  14. Tiffany In Houston

    I was contacted directly by the actual hiring manager on Linked to interview for a long term contract position. The interview was this past Monday. Since the position will come thru the company and not thru a recruiter, the hiring manager said she would like to check some refernces, and check with HR to see if there were other steps in the process and then make a decision. I sent the references on Tuesday morning, she replied back with the following:

    “Thanks Tiffany. I touched base with HR yesterday. They stated that you will most likely need to go through the background check and drug screening as you would be classified as a temporary employee. I am following up with my contact for the correct forms and approvals.”

    I texted one of my references yesterday to see if he had been contacted and he had not. The hiring manager mentioned she was motivated to move because she had a person in her area that was ready to move on to their new job (in another dept.)

    How would you interpret her comments:? Do I have the job? Do I not? I was planning on following up today but U’m not really sure how to phrase my note. Help!

    1. Jubilance

      Maybe something like this?

      “Hello (Hiring Manager),
      Just wanted to follow up with you regarding the position. Is there anything else you need to provide to you to move forward through the hiring process? Do you have an idea of when you’ll be making a decision?

      Thanks & have a great weekend”

      1. fposte

        This is spot on–the only change I’d make is if you haven’t responded to that HM’s email yet, I’d put in “Thanks for the update” instead of “Just wanted to follow up” (because you do want to make sure you thank her for the update).

  15. Anonymous

    Ok, so I need some help handling an over-sharing boss! I work in a small office and directly report to the woman who is top of the (small) foodchain, only the CEO is above her and he’s rarely actually in the office so I have next to no interaction with him.

    I worked as a freelancr for this company on and off for a while before I was eventually employed (in a different role) by them. While I was at a conference on behalf of the company when I was freelancing for them there was a lot of downtime and the boss and I ended up chatting for quite a while. That was fine but she told me some very personal stuff, including her medical issues, which include a history of clinical depression amongst other things.

    It would be awkward enough that I knew a large amount of personal information about my boss now that I directly report to her (I didn’t as a freelancer), but to make matters worse she continues to share inappropriately personal information with me! She’s my boss so I can’t just tell her to shut up, but I really don’t want to know all this stuff. The small office and nature of the business we do means there is a “we’re a family” kind of culture, but she doesn’t seem to share this stuff with anyone else, and mostly that “we’re a family” thing just means people get together for drinks after work frequently and bring in cakes on people’s birthdays. It doesn’t mean we all tell each other all the details of our lives.

    Anyway, how can I get her to cut back on the sharing? Or do I just need to put up with it?

    1. Sascha

      Ehhhh…since she’s your boss, it’s dicier to tell her to knock it off. I had an oversharing coworker who, if you told her you didn’t think it was appropriate to know that, she would fly off the handle and chew you out. The way I got her to cut back on it was behavior modification:

      1. Don’t ask any questions that would allow her to expound on her issues, just nod along.
      2. If applicable, offer practical solutions to her problems.
      3. Get up and go do something else when she starts in.

      This particular coworker just wanted a sympathetic ear. I know it sounds cold, but I took away that sympathetic ear, and when she realized she wasn’t going to get it from me, she stopped sharing. I wasn’t rude to her, I was just very, very practical.

      Not sure how well this will go over with your boss but if you do subtle things it may help.

      1. Anonymous

        It’s the fact she’s my boss that makes me uncomfortable, I don’t think I’d mind so much if it was a co-worker. I do get the feeling she is lonely (she chose her career over family) and just looking for a someone to talk to. I just wish that someone was a friend from outside work and not me!

        I like your suggestions, but I have tried all three (with the last one being the most difficult, as she’s my boss!) with no change in her behavior. She’s also about 20 years older than me so a lot of her problems are not something I feel I can offer practical solutions to as I really have no reference from my own life to go on!

        1. Sascha

          Ooh, I’m sorry. It is tough since she’s in the position of power. As for practical solutions, I don’t think you need reference from your own life, but rather think of it like problem solving. What is the logical thing to do? What is her goal and how is she going to achieve it?

          That works great in theory but again, she’s your boss and it may not work, and you risk upsetting her (or you may have already tried this and it didn’t work). Unfortunately there may not be a way to curtail her oversharing. Do you have a coworker that is able to say something like, TMI, no need to share! Or someone who is on her level? I wouldn’t go to that person with a complaint, but maybe just find an ally in helping give the hints.

    2. Andrew

      As long as she isn’t expecting you to return the favor and over share details from your own life, you should just put up with it, given that she’s your boss. Really, what’s the harm? It will only bother you if you dwell on it.

      1. twentymilehike

        I’m inclined to agree with Andrew. I have an over sharing boss … she just plops down in your office and spews lots of things you don’t need to know. A lot of it is about her business partner, which is a lot of stuff we probably shouldn’t know. But mostly I just do my work and let her talk and she doesn’t even seem to care if anyone is actually listening. She just wants to talk.

        1. Jamie

          You can learn a lot about politics this way. I wouldn’t cut off the sharing if it were me.

          What did the old PSAs say? Knowledge is power? :)

        2. ZombiesRPeopleToo

          Sometimes by boss likes to do this too, at 5pm, when I’m trying to wrap up and leave. It hasn’t bothered me yet because I add that chatfest to my timesheet.

    3. Not So NewReader

      “Boss, it’s not that I don’t care about people. I really do. However, this stuff here that you are talking about is waaay out beyond my life experience. I am not a (fill-in with parent/spouse/grandparent if relevant) so it is difficult for me to relate and unfair to you because I can’t relate. I think you should talk with people who have a setting similar to your own- that way you can develop action plans – do you have a minister/counselor/life coach that can help you develop an overall plan of approach? It sounds like this is a quality of life issue so it merits serious consideration with people of experience to develop steps for an action plan.”

      Well- you get the idea. You want to keep mentioning action plans. People who just want to moan and groan HATE action plans. If you keep mentioning action plans she will eventually stop dumping on you and find someone else. However if she actually wants to stop moaning and groaning- she will actually go find an action plan. Either way, eventually you work out of this situation.
      Be sure to show how it is only to her best benefit to pursue these other avenues.

      As an aside- I have been in this position where I thought I was the complainer’s only confidant. Turned out she was doing the SAME thing to everyone else. Each of us thought we were the only ones she was speaking to. It went on for YEARS before we figured it out. I would not be surprised to find out that is what is happening here.

    4. TheSnarkyB

      I think there’s some good advice here but I’d also watch your assumptions about what’s personal. I’m sure you have a good sense of this based on her tone and how she presents things, but I think that some people consider things less personal than others, for a multitude of reasons. For instance, I’ve talked openly to some people about my family’s history of clinical depression because I think that mental health stigma is crappy and if we all just open up a bit maybe we can get it to semi- go away. Or I’ve talked to not-super-close (yet) friends about “What bra do you find most supportive? Do you have a gp doctor in the area you’d recommend?” mostly as a matter of creating the social space I want to be in.
      It’s unlikely that your boss is strategically revealing things to change the world bit-by-bit…. but it’s a possibility to entertain. (Or employ in your own life)

    5. Lily

      I was the over-sharing boss. I over-shared because I thought that if people understood my motivation and intentions, they would be more cooperative. During that stage, I would have shut up if I thought the sharee understood my point. The more I had the impression that the sharee didn’t get it, the more I would have continued sharing. Of course, I don’t know if this might apply to your boss, but it might be worth a try.

  16. Shuvon

    I just wanted to say thanks. A lot of the letters on this blog deal with setting boundaries with other people, which has been really helpful.

    I teach on weekends in my part-time job. I had a student recently who reeked of cigarette smoke, and I couldn’t stop coughing and my eyes were watering badly. I was nervous about saying anything at all, but in a “what would AAM say?” moment, I was inspired:

    “I’m sorry, but my allergies seem to be acting up. I might not be able to sit with you for the whole hour you have booked.” No drama, and she actually apologized for smoking before class, which I wasn’t expecting.

    I also asked the shop owners to add a line to the class schedule for all sessions: “Please refrain from smoking before class or wearing heavy perfume.”

    1. MP

      I also had a “what would AAM say?” moment a couple of weeks ago. My coworker has an office but doesn’t like to sit all day, so he took to putting his computer on top of a filing cabinet next to my cube and would stand there for hours, typing away (and talking to people who passed by). It was super distracting. Normally I’m pretty good about tuning out typing but it was just so close to my head (cube walls are thin!). So one day, as we were talking about something else, I casually said “oh, btw, I find it distracting when you work there. Normally I can block out office sounds, but my head is essentially right under your computer. Would you mind moving to the filing cabinet over there?” *points to other side of cube farm*. He moved, no questions asked (although he did tell me to “remind him if he did it again”). Lately, every time he wants to work while standing, I’ve noticed that he props his laptop up on a box in his office. So he’s not distracting others either. Win!

      1. Anonymous

        This sounds like a good case for a standing desk if the company can afford it (“doesn’t like to sit” could easily be a serious ergonomic issue)

  17. Jberry

    I have a question. My supervisor and I get along very well. She is generally very approachable and definitely NOT a micro-manager. But she lies. About everything. To everyone. She lies about work that she has done and work that she has the time to do. She lies to clients about who is doing the work. She tells so many lies that she can’t keep them straight and I often find her trying to “educate” me on issues and other things that I had created, argued for, and briefed her on. I find her trying to take credit for work and ideas–not out of malice or competition, but because she cannot keep things straight in her own mind.

    Basically, I don’t trust anything she says anymore. And it is starting to show. Any help?

    1. KayDay

      hmmm….I’m honestly not 100% sure what to tell you. One suggestion is to correct (in private) any lies that could feasibly be confusion on her part. Don’t indicate that you think she is lying, just correct it like any other communication. And if that doesn’t work, run!!

    2. Lindsay

      Be careful.

      If she lies to you she may lie about you and your job performance if a situation comes up where she needs to cover her own behind.

    3. perrik

      Document everything you create and achieve. Send her emails to confirm what you’re doing/what you’ve done, and when appropriate (only when appropriate, though), cc a relevant coworker/manager. This won’t stop her from lying and getting mixed up with her lies (as Judge Judy always says, if you tell the truth you don’t need to have a good memory). However, it will create a paper trail to help you keep the credit for your work.

      Also, perhaps it is time to job search. Do you really want to work for someone like this?

      1. Ash

        This. Document everything, get it in writing. Even if you have a conversation with her about something, take notes and then write her an e-mail “confirming” what you two just talked about so you can make sure “you’re on the same page” as she is. This way if anything happens, you’ll have proof that she told you one thing and then said another, or kept confusing you even when you were doing your due dilligence trying to confirm it. Also start looking for another job and mention this on the exit interview.

    4. fposte

      ” I often find her trying to “educate” me on issues and other things that I had created, argued for, and briefed her on. ” Is that necessarily a lying thing? It sounds like it could just be the work version of telling the joke back to the person you heard it from. In fact, overall this sounds like it could be memory deficit rather than obfuscation–she’s not so much lying as guessing really, really wrong about stuff she should remember and doesn’t.

      Obviously that can still be really damaging to the business, and it still might be something that you can’t work with. But I might try to talk to her supervisor or HR in such a situation before deciding to head out, because it might actually be something she could be helped with.

      1. Marmite

        This. It’s possible she has memory problems and is filling the gaps with what she thinks is a good guess as to how things happened. I had a roommate who would offer me my own food. She’d open the fridge, grab something and ask if I wanted any, she genuinely thought she was offering to share her own food, she just couldn’t remember what she’d bought!

    5. Katie the Fed

      Are you sure she’s lying and not just mistaken/confused?

      “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence” – Napoleon

    6. Lily

      I agree that she might just have a poor memory. My memory has definitely gotten worse, but I have gotten better and better at documentation, so I think I am actually more productive than in the days when I had a good memory. However, I had to realize that I had a problem and then take steps to deal with it. Working with someone who has a poor memory and denies it is frustrating! Could you ask about the various incidents in the context of aging and find out if she just hasn’t recognized her loss of memory?

      If she is lying, then I agree with the advice of the others!

  18. TGIF

    Looking for some advice from those who work in cubicle farms. My company is moving, and the new space is a (not as large as you’d think) open floor plan with cubicles all on top of one another. Our current space is huge and has most people in large offices. Of course, I’m sad to leave my large private office and I am concerned at the level of close-ness of these cubes. Not only about the noise, as some of us are on phones, some are programmers who need quiet, etc. but about the smells of people, food and the like. I’ve had a cube in the past but never this many, this close. It seems that none of us worker bees were consulted, because we are all flabbergasted about how this is ever going to work. Please tell me this set up works for some of you!!!

    1. Lore

      To be honest, it’s a pretty tough adjustment; I’m going on 18 months in the cube farm and the noise, smells, etc. are still frequently distracting.

      We’re lucky to have a cafeteria in the building so there is a place to go and eat–but people were also reminded that if at all possible, it would be better to eat in the kitchen area, a conference room, or the semi-open lobby area rather than at their cubes.

      I’ve found earplugs (or noise-canceling headphones) a necessity; a lot of my coworkers listen to music or podcasts but I find it really hard to concentrate through that kind of background noise.

      Also, my particular “pod”–four of us who can basically see each other while sitting in our cubes–tends to break out in spontaneous goofiness around 4 p.m. A day of close quarters leads to silliness.

    2. Kate

      I made a similar transition recently, and it’s working well for our group. Not ideal, of course, but working out. It works because the people I work with are aware of and respectful of everybody else, so no smelly foods or long, non-work related conversations. I’ve found that I can easily ignore phone conversations, and people who can’t wear headphones. The cubicle walls are about six feet tall so even though we’re physically close together, it doesn’t feel crowded. Just more aware of noise than before.

    3. the gold digger

      I’m in a cubicle and I hate it. My co-workers eat all day long. The granola (dry) comes out at 10 a.m. The apples start after lunch. There are long non-work related conversations. It’s one of the reasons I am looking for a new job. (Although if I could double my pay, I would find the noise a lot less intolerable.)

    4. perrik

      My small group just moved to the HQ building, and that meant leaving behind our private offices (with a view of DC landmarks, sigh). Now we’re in a cube farm where the walls are only about 4 feet high.

      You adapt eventually. I’ve changed what I bring for lunch, so no more curries or other really fragrant foods. To block out office noises, I’ve downloaded several iPhone apps that create white/pink noise or ambient sounds (handy if you find music too distracting). So far, so good.

      1. Parfait

        i did not know about pink noise. I found a website that generates it for you and I’m enjoying not hearing things going on around me. Yay.

    5. LMW

      I’m three years into a cube life-style after having an office for four years. I still hate it and still don’t understand who thinks this arrangement makes people more productive.

      I did want to offer an cube-life update though: I wrote in about my noisy coworker a few months ago…and never even needed to take the advice. He went from multiple loud conversations a day for weeks to basically nothing. Not one problem since I wrote in. I don’t know if someone else said something to him or what. And I did overhear him tell a coworker that he didn’t know what he would have done if he had had to work in a less supportive environment while going through a personal crisis and he was really grateful to the team. He still drums sometimes, but I’m kind of used to that now.

      1. Lore

        No one here is making the argument that we’re more productive or better off for it–it’s purely a money-saving move on the part of the company, which at the very least they have been transparent about. The thing that’s really frustrating here is that they didn’t renovate the pre-existing, large and comfortable offices at all–so the few people lucky enough to still have them are in spaces that could fit four of the cubes, and that could easily have been shared or halved, while the rest of us are in environments where it’s actually not possible to perform several key functions of our jobs and have access to the computer at the same time (you need to remove the keyboard from the desk surface to provide enough room to review documents). Ongoing source of annoyance.

        1. AdAgencyChick

          Ugh!

          I have seen companies that actually do claim open arrangements “encourage collaboration” and thereby boost productivity. I also hear a lot of “more sunlight for the worker bees” (either because there are no offices with walls that block the light, or the few offices are on the interior of the building and/or have glass walls). Smells like a load of horse dung to me — I think it a) saves money on renovations and b) has the side effect of making it harder to goof off on the Intarwebz (because it’s easier for someone to look over your shoulder).

          Of course, it also has the effect of everyone interrupting your work, and there’s never enough conference room space because people who used to have small meetings in their offices now have to book conference rooms for the same purpose. I HATE IT.

          1. Lore

            It is definitely easier to take an informal poll of my colleagues on a procedural question, but otherwise, our work is so individual and project-based that collaboration is much less important than concentration. I definitely feel like I’m more distracted and slower in this environment, but my boss says he hasn’t noticed, so.

    6. Jen in RO

      Cubicles! That would be amazing! We’re in a ‘true’ open space – just a bunch of desks – and it’s both good and bad. I got used to the background noise very easily and people don’t eat smelly foods, and I like goofing off with my coworkers. On the other hand, I do wish for cubicles sometimes, they would prevent a certain person from bugging me 10 times a day…

      1. Jamie

        Weird confession: on this IT forum I visit once in a while people post pics of their desks/workstations and I have a bizarre fascination with that. Sometimes I just google pictures pictures of offices. I’m way more curious about how people set up their work space than what they look like. Totally weird.

        1. Jen in RO

          If it weren’t Friday night and I weren’t in a different country on holiday, I’d take a picture of mine. Maybe on LinkedIn on Monday!

    7. MP

      I had an office for about a year. I was working for a client at the time and normally us contractors get to share cubes in high traffic areas, but when my client renovated their offices, they set aside one for me (so I could concentrate on my work – reviewing technical documents). This arrangement made some of the FT employees bitter, but I was so spoiled by that office and its lovely door. Now I’m back in the cube farm and it doesn’t work for me. I can’t concentrate half the time and I also hate that other people can hear my phone conversations so I tend to use email for everything.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I have to edit consultant reports and I really do wish I had an office sometimes. Usually I just plug in my iPod, but I can’t do that while it’s charging (and can’t stream or download music to my work computer either). It’s not that noisy, but there are a lot of people on the phone.

    8. The IT Manager

      I’ve mostly worked in a variety of cubical farms and it’s been fine. It’s all about the people though. The worst was one guy who talked too loud all the time (he projected) and had way too many inane personal conversation, but that was his fault and not the fault of being in a cube.

      I have ear plugs I purchased that I occasionally use in one ear if I am on a call when my neighbor is (she’s loud too but most of her calls are work related.) To be honest, I think I talk too loud sometimes too since I’m trying to project through my phone.

    9. Windchime

      (I’ve been lurking for months and this is my first time posting–yay!)

      I’ve never had my own office and have always been a cubicle dweller. Cubicles are usually problematic for me because I’m a programmer , which means that I need to be able to focus and do a lot of mental juggling. One of my programming jobs put me in a room with only programmers and we would all spend hours in blissfull silence. But most of the time, including my current job, managment mixes up the programmers with the “talky” people (such as project managers and end-user support folks) and it’s very, very difficult to concentrate.

      I used to get so upset at all the endless yakking , laughing, and other noisy interruptions. A couple of years ago, I finally cracked one day and went to the big box electronic store on my lunch break and bought a pair of spendy noise-cancelling headphones. They seriously saved my sanity. I have a noise-generating app on my phone (it sounds like rain and ocean waves); that app, combined with the noise-cancelling headphones, ensure that I cannot hear a thing that’s going on around me.

      Bonus: Co-workers enjoy seeing me junp spectacularly when they tap me on the shoulder to get my attention. Seriously, consider the noise-cancelling headphones. They were super expensive, but worth every penny.

      1. littlemoose

        One caveat: you may want to avoid if you’re migraine-prone. I once borrowed my dad’s noise-canceling headphones to travel and developed a raging migraine within ten minutes of use. Obviously YMMV, but just wanted to mention it. For us migraine-prone folks, I imagine headphones with white noise (as others mentioned) will have to do.

        1. Windchime

          I do get migraines, but fortunately the noise-cancelling headphones haven’t triggered one for me. I’m more likely to get a migraine from the stress of being annoyed and people who won’t be quiet! I’m sorry that they didn’t work for you; that’s a bummer. I don’t use them without the white-noise app or Pandora, though–because they do make me feel a weird pressure in my head. So I guess I could see how that might cause a migraine.

  19. Not Perfect Employee

    Does anyone have any tips on working for a boss who goes off over small issues. Example: a few months ago, we had to get a message out in short timeframe. I worked on my day off to prepare it so it could go out first thing the next day but omitted to include a minor tweak in wording she wanted. The wording was included in a rambling email with other comments and I just missed it. All her other changes were included. As soon as I realized, I apologized profusely and as far as I know, she didn’t blow. In the past, she has escalated this type of mistake into a major drama with other players up the line. I was planning to leave in six months, but this last episode has made me wonder if I shouldn’t just go now. Financially it would be better to stay, but I’m just tired of working with a potential volcano. Any suggestions appreciated.

    1. Jared

      I had a boss like this. Don’t do this: Answer her question by exposing the breakdowns in communication, completely absolving you of wrongdoing!

      Her reign of tyranny was tolerated by upper management, because she’d been with the company for 15 years (government tenure…).

      Five years and upper management change later, she was removed after a review of her department turnover, double that of the rest of the agency. Her division lost a profitable contract with HUD because of “poor management”. The “can do” part of this is up to upper management; you’re better off keeping your head down until you find calmer waters, elsewhere.

    2. COT

      Alison always reminds us that it’s much easier to find a new job when you’re currently employed. That’s not a hard-and-fast rule that will work for every person every time, but it’s worth considering. Can you accelerate your job search while trying your best to hang in there?

      I’m not even sure I understand your question: your boss has a history of making a big fuss over small mistakes, but didn’t do so the last time you made a mistake a few months ago. Correct? While walking on eggshells is very tiring, I see no reason why you suddenly need to leave right this instant.

      1. fposte

        Yeah, the example wasn’t an example, so I was kind of confused. I’m also not clear on what escalating stuff into a major drama up the line means–can you describe an example, Not Perfect?

    3. Shannon in L.A.

      If your instincts are telling you to go, then go. I worked for a lawyer with severe anger management issues, and every day was like dancing on the edge of a knife. (By anger management issues, I mean fists through walls, slamming doors so hard the glass breaks level of issues.) I never knew what would set him off (well, except for one particular judge) and though he paid me nicely, it wasn’t worth it. The day I walked out of there was one of the best days of my life.

  20. nyxalinth

    the post above about being fired over on incorrect date makes me ask:

    what’s the dumbest reason you’ve ever been fired?

    I worked at a call center in Florida in 2003. I should have known it wouldn’t work out, since they dragged their feet for 5 weeks about the start date (yes, I kept looking, I just really really really wanted to work there)having me call back every week to see if the training class would start the following week (finally it did).

    Let me say right here that after training (it was a week long and not terribly difficult) that I exceeded quota (we were doing small surveys to pharmacists and the minimum was 70 per day, I was hitting 80-100), was always courteous and friendly on the phones, followed procedures, and was perfectly on time in to work and back from breaks and lunches. In other words, no performance issues.

    Two weeks passed. during this time, we heard that the guy who had hired several of us had been fired. One day I get called into the office and am told they’re letting me go because “You’re just not working out.”

    I ask them why, telling them everything I said about my performance above, and even that my immediate supervisor had told me I was doing well. the guy stammered a bit (he was a new manager, brought in to replace Old Manager) and he repeated, “Sorry, no, you’re just not working out. Here’s your check, good luck to you.” the other people were a man and a woman, both several years older than me, and I was 37 at the time. All we could figure then was that we didn’t sit with everyone from our group at every break and lunch, preferring to read or go make a call or go for a walk, instead.

    I heard rumors for a while from people who were still there: we’d been fired because Old Manager who hired us had been fired, that New Manager was firing people over 30 for ‘poor performance’ and replacing them with attractive 20-somethings, and finally, I found out from someone in the know that apparently New Manager didn’t like or trust introverts, and me and my fellow fire-ees preferred time on our own to relax and recharge our energy spent from talking on the phones non-stop over yakking it up with co-workers.

    Overall, I thought it was a pretty stupid reason.

    1. Joey

      I fired a black guy once for blowing a gasket when another guy called him the N word. he didnt actually punch the guy, but you could say his response was reasonable.

        1. Joey

          Of course. That was a no brainer, but I had a difficult time with the black dude- he was super nice, it was out of character, and all of the folks I discussed it with said because he was provoked he was justified. In the end though I just couldn’t send a message that its ever okay to blow a gasket for any reason, even a good one.

          1. Ash

            It’s not OK to get upset when someone uses a derogatory racial slur against you? You must work with Buddhist monks or something to expect that kind of patience.

              1. Ash

                I have a feeling that you probably aren’t a member of a minority group that has been subject to institutional and outright societal discrimination. It’s probably hard to understand the level of hatred and vitriol that members of oppressed groups experience on a regular basis. You should’ve cut the guy some slack, especially because you said he didn’t get violent. You’re lucky he didn’t go the media or get a lawyer. “I was fired because I got mad that a co-worker called me a slur” would not look good for any company. I’m sure this happened many years ago and there’s nothing that can be done now, but you should really re-think your position on this because you didn’t show any compassion.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  We have no idea what “lost control” means in this situation. It could certainly have warranted Joey’s response. Without details, I don’t see how anyone can pass judgment.

                2. Joey

                  What difference does that make? But for the record I am a minority. And please don’t argue that I wouldn’t understand because I’m not black. Because there are plenty of durogatory racial names for every race. And, some of the folks that weighed in were black agreed he needed to be fired.

                3. Joey

                  And to clarify, we all thought he was justified morally, but we also decided that we could not keep someone who made threats of violence and put their hands on someone for any reason.

                4. Jamie

                  Absolutely. The second he put his hands on someone and issued a threat I don’t see how you could keep him. Everyone needs to feel safe at work and zero tolerance is a part at that.

                  I understand the anger an impulse. I may not be a minority, but we all have something someone could call us that would be as insulting – and if I were in that situation I would be furious and go to HR, maybe go for the day depending…but I wouldn’t put m job in jeopardy with threats or physical contact. You just can’t do that.

              2. Not So NewReader

                I can totally see the loss of control issue. I had a remark made to me- it was not based on ethnicity but a remark that would be upsetting to most people.
                When I reported the remark- I was asked over and over and over “what was your reaction?” and “are you sure you did not say anything?” and “think hard- did you even start to make a fist with your hand or raise your hand?”

                (The remark had left me so distressed, I could not even speak a response.)
                Once the person I reported it to realized that I said nothing and simply allowed the meeting to finish- she was good to go. She reported the individual and the remark.
                Because I said and did nothing the situation was abundantly clear. That person found themselves in very hot water, very fast because this was not the first time they had made that type of remark. (I did not know that, until after I made the report.)

                So yes, words can hit you just like a punch in the face. But you cannot punch back with your fists- you will not win. In this case here, I promised myself that I would follow up on this and stand up for myself. And I did.

          2. Liz T

            FYI: While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the word “black” or the word “dude,” in this context that label comes off as insensitive and dismissive.

              1. Liz T

                Anon 1: Thinking about it, it’s the dude part I found cavalier.

                Anon 2: The gender has nothing to do with my response; it’s how casual the term is. It makes it sound a little like this person thinks the story’s funny, which I’m sure s/he does not.

                Obviously, people disagree, but I found myself wincing a little.

                1. TheSnarkyB

                  I see where you’re coming from – it was a level of casualness that the situation doesn’t call for. I think, “I had to fire a Black man who..” would change a couple key pieces of the tone of the comment.

                  I feel ya

            1. Not So NewReader

              I worked one place where the women called each other “dude.” I think it is funny in a cool way.

          3. K

            I don’t know – it sounds like physical violence wasn’t involved. If it wasn’t, do you really need a zero tolerance policy for blowing a gasket? (It’s never okay, but certainly my office would be pretty empty if that was the rule, and I don’t think we’re particularly abusive (also, for the record, I’m not even talking about myself here). And this isn’t even in response to racial slurs.) I feel like there are ways to demonstrate things aren’t okay short of firing.

            1. Kara

              Agreed, and as a black woman, I have a really hard time with the idea that I have to keep calm and carry on if someone calls me the most offensive thing there is. If someone calls me the n-word, I am entitled to get angry. It’s a really, really big deal to be called the n-word. The word, like all slurs, is designed to belittle, humiliate, and incite anger. I guess I’m “lucky” in that the angrier I am, the quieter I am, so my response would be to silently stalk down to HR with teeth clenched and report it, and probably leave for the rest of the day.

            2. Joey

              What if he repeatedly said “let’s take it outside. I’ll kick your ass” while grabbing him by the shirt and pushing him against the wall?

              1. K

                Well, I guess that crosses the line to physical violence for me and that makes more sense as a zero tolerance situation than does angry words, to me. (Punching the wall wouldn’t but actually laying hands on someone seems different to me.) I don’t know if I’d have fired him, but I see the argument for it.

          4. Katie the Fed

            I think I’d want to know what “blowing a gasket” actually entailed in this situation.

      1. EnnVeeEl

        You had to fire him. I understand him being upset at being called the N word, but if he had just stayed calm and reported it, the other guy would have been fired and he would still have a job. The idiot and being called the N word wasn’t worth losing a paycheck over. This is all very unfortunate.

        1. Lily

          If he had repeatedly experienced that third parties deny racial discrimination, I can understand taking the situation into his own hands, even though I can also understand management firing him for it.

          The person who is responsible for investigating complaints of discrimination at my company told me that I obviously hadn’t experienced any discrimination. I asked how she knew that and she replied that our union rep had told her. I asked her how she can decide that without talking to me?!

    2. Ann O'Nemity

      Ooh, that’s an interesting topic.

      I worked in a pizzeria for about 8 weeks in high school. A new manager came in and scheduled me for a day shift when I was supposed to be in school. When I couldn’t find a replacement for the shift, I was fired. (Is this legal? It probably is, but always seemed unfair to me.)

      1. Not So NewReader

        Maybe there are laws protecting underage workers in your state? If you were less than 18 you might have had some protection?

    3. Sascha

      That is dumb! Doesn’t trust introverts??? Who else doesn’t he trust???

      My story is not very interesting but I was fired from a coffee shop job because I went home sick, but my coworker told our boss that I went to a party. I felt very betrayed. She seemed like she really liked me and was cool. I didn’t leave my shift early – so I worked an entire shift whilst sick, which is a Very Bad Thing to do in food service – but when home at the end of it, but it just happened to be a busy night. I never found out why she did that.

      To make it worse, the way the manager fired me was stupid, too. She just stopped scheduling me, so I asked her – in person, even – why I hadn’t been scheduled, and she would mumble something and then walk away, and never answer me. So I kept going up to the shop to check the schedules each week. This happened for about 3 weeks. Finally my mom called her (I was 17 – not great but I was young), and the manager said, Oh I fired her, didn’t she realize that? Um, no.

      1. Emma

        I did my time in food service too. Isn’t it a universal truth that you’re never fired from food service – you’re just “not put on the schedule” anymore.

        1. ZombiesRPeopleToo

          That happened to me at a clothing store years ago – one that’s in every mall in America. This same store had radios for employees, and the managers would radio everybody when it was time for break or to go home. The thing is there weren’t enough radios for everybody. One manager would get upset with me when I didn’t take my breaks on time, even though I obviously wasn’t wearing a radio when I walked up to her and I never responded to any of her radio calls.

    4. Liz in the City

      I wasn’t fired, but my shortest stint at as job was 6 hours. It was a ham-based retailer and I just … really dislike ham. After my shift (I was just a temp for the two weeks before Easter), I couldn’t get the smell off me. I was supposed to go in the next day, but I called in “sick,” effectively ending my tenure as Ham Queen.

      1. LMW

        Oh, I understand that one! I’ve been a vegetarian for 16 years and a temp agency assigned me to a ham store the three days before Christmas once. Not only did I get people screaming at me over the phone because they didn’t want to wait in line to pick up the ham they ordered and I “ruined Christmas” but by the end of the third day they actually had me running hams from the back room where they blow-torched the sugar on to the front counter. I had to throw out my clothes. Worst job I ever had. (Also, they wouldn’t let you leave for lunch because they provided it, but what they provided was ham sandwiches. Shudder.)

        1. Julie K

          I found out the hard way that when a company provides a nice lunch every day, they do not expect you to take a lunch hour (it wasn’t ham sandwiches – it was food you wanted to eat).

          1. Jamie

            Not always. My office buys lunch a couple times a week but there’s no strings. You can still take your lunch hour out of the office and eat at your desk if you like.

            Our only unwritten rule is that if you’re going to get something to bring back you ask around in case they want to buy for the office.

    5. Coelura

      I was working for a call center in my early 20s. I also have arthritis & can not wear heels. The company dress policy required all women to wear heels. I took in a letter from my doctor. But I was fired anyway. Which was okay, because it was a horrid place to work!

      1. Jamie

        Why would a call center care about shoes? And there are plenty of dressy women’s shoes which aren’t heels – that seems so arbitrary and odd.

        1. Elizabeth

          The most stringent dress code I have ever had at work was at a call center. The management had to get permission from corporate to loosen it when the A/C went out because women were passing out from the heat. (Women were required to wear either slacks with dress socks or knee-length or longer skirts with hose/tights and no short sleeves — 3/4 length or longer.)

    6. EnnVeeEl

      A lot of stories will come in about stupid reasons for being fired, and almost all of them will involve call centers. Sigh…

    7. Job seeker

      That is just plain awful. I am sorry you and others were treated this way. It seems this kind of thing happens more often than not with a change in management.

    8. Elizabeth West

      Ugh! This happened to me once when I worked at a video store. I was supposed to learn the filing system in three weeks, but three DAYS after I started, they moved my manager to a different store and brought in The Fish. (Looked like one, personality of one, shook hands like one.)

      The Fish never smiled at me, would barely talk, and had a buddy who would come in and shoot the breeze while I did all the work. One night, shortly before the three weeks were up, The Fish asked me to stay for a minute after closing. Then he told me I was fired.
      –I didn’t learn the system fast enough. (The three weeks weren’t even up and I was fine with it.)
      –I was “argumentative.” (I was helping a customer and was a little slow on the computer; the customer was fine, and I was very polite. When he said something, I smiled and told him “I think I’ve got it.”)
      –I didn’t do enough work. (There was nothing TO do. Once the floor was vacuumed and all the tape boxes were straightened, there was nothing. That floor was vacuumed so many times you could eat off it.)

      As I was leaving, he called after me, “Bye! Come back and rent with us sometime!” *facepalm*

      I later found out he had hired a friend of his (not the one who hung out there). It had nothing to do with me; he wanted to work with his buddy. What a jerk!

    9. ThursdaysGeek

      I’m not sure if it was a dumb reason to be fired or not. I cleaned houses when I was in college, a dumb kid who didn’t even know to pay taxes on the pittance I earned. One place I had to clean up the spilled beer bottles, as well as the vacuuming and normal house cleaning duties. One time he asked me to do the laundry too, so I did. I didn’t the next week, since that was not normally part of my duties. I didn’t realize he wanted it every week until he fired me for not doing it.

      That was the scariest job to show up for the first time, however. The sign on the gate at the entrance to the property said something like “vicious dogs, stay in car and honk horn”. I was on a bicycle, this was pre-cell phone days, and he was a 6 mile ride out of town. Stupid me went in anyway. I was lucky — they’d gotten rid of the dogs because they’d killed a cow the week before.

    1. Sascha

      What’s your spirit animal? Really?

      There’s a few good ones but they are worded kind of strange. Also the author mentioned one question he used to “put the candidate on the defensive.” Why would you do that?

    2. Malissa

      Interesting questions. I think my asking a question similar to #10 is why I’m going for a final interview next week. I think the owner liked that I asked about whether or not the workers were using technology in the field.

  21. Y

    Resume Question.
    I often see (and use) a chronological style of resume. I’m in a non-technical field, so there is a lot of admin and event planning experience (mostly soft skills (not slamming them they’re great!)). I’m wondering if anyone ever uses other formats for resumes.

    The main reason I ask is because I was temping for almost 2 years. I worry that I look like a job hopper (even though the contracts were from 6-9 months long) or just someone who wasn’t employable (even though the positions are actually quite high up (running a conference, assisting C-level execs)).

    While my contracts were only temporary, I actually sought them out either due to the skills I’d learn/get more experience in, the specific industry, or a really good title. So while they are all different, they had a lot of thought behind them in terms of growth. They weren’t just “I needed the money” – which, while true, every job still gave me a list of accomplishments.

    I’m applying to a job I am very excited about, and I’m trying to showcase the skills I have, and because I worked in different fields, I have the skills to really cover what they are asking for… I would like to present my resume and cover letter in this way. That I wasn’t hopping about, that I was seriously going after things that would give me good growth, and prepare me for this role. I’m wondering if a chronological resume might not showcase that too well.

    Thoughts?

    1. Liz T

      AAM always says that when she sees a non-chronological résumé, she wonders if the applicant is hiding something.

      I know what you mean about showcasing the important parts. On my résumé, I take care to show that I’ve had no significant work gaps, but I give way less detail about the less relevant jobs.

    2. COT

      Alison’s usual advice is to list it like this:

      “Temp agency” and dates
      * Temp job 1
      *Temp job 2
      *Temp job 3

      That makes it very clear why these jobs were so short-term. In your cover letter, you can explain just how this diversity of jobs makes you a great candidate.

    3. fposte

      Don’t. Stick to chronological. I *hate* functional resumes–it’s like getting a jigsaw puzzle of a resume and I have to do the work to put it together.

      You can break them down and have an “Other Experience” section for the less relevant stuff, but the place to make a career trajectory out of that history is in your cover letter.

      1. fposte

        Oh, and you can also describe your job achievements in terms that makes them more relevant to the job you’re applying for, so you can do some of this within your resume–but not by fragmenting your work history.

  22. TRB

    Hey everyone. I’ve been in my position for about 4 months and have been taking on some new accounts. I’ve been forgetting to do a few things on the new accounts because I’m still busy with the original accounts I have. I know I’m messing up and I feel bad and fix it as soon as possible. How do I let my supervisor know that I know I’m messing up and forgetting instead of just being the stereotypical millenial and not caring?

    1. Kate

      Do you have weekly or biweekly one-on-ones with your supervisor? That’s a good time to make them aware that you’re struggling with this, but you’re aware of the problems and you’re taking steps to fix it. That last part is key, though. And ask for their advice on how to implement a better tracking system, manage your time well, etc.

      1. TRB

        Thanks Kate. We don’t have one-on-ones, we’re a start-up company but maybe I should ask for one.

        1. MP

          Just make sure you schedule enough time for your 1 on 1’s. I started a new job ~6 months ago and waited almost 2 months to set up 1 on 1’s because my boss has no time. Due to my boss’s schedule, I get a whopping….wait for it….30 minutes every month to ask questions. It’s really not enough time to explain all the stuff I’ve done incorrectly, explain how I’m fixing it and ask questions about new stuff.

          Lately I’ve been thinking of sending a weekly report of how I’m spending my time (a holdover from my consulting days). My boss doesn’t work in my office and I’m not sure she really knows what I’m working on.

    2. Malissa

      Will the manager even know you are messing up if you don’t tell him?
      Do you have a plan to fix the process? If so you can present it as I noticed I was over looking X and I’m doing Y to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But as you are new, mistakes are expected, just don’t let them hang you up.

      1. TRB

        He may not realize if I don’t say anything but I’m not sure. I do have a plan in process, I’ll see if mentioning that helps. Thanks.

    3. perrik

      FYI, keep this situation in mind for future interviews when they ask about a weakness. “I found I was forgetting to do basic things like X, Y, and Z for new accounts because I was still trying to deal with A, B, and C for my original accounts. To resolve this problem, I set up a process to…”

      1. Not So NewReader

        This. Plus if he is any kind of a manager he will probably admit he has made the same mistakes or had similar issues himself.
        At this point, just taking ownership of the mistakes and hammering out a plan to deal should be impressive enough.

  23. Katniss

    I’ve got a question for everyone. My company recently instituted a policy that, when checking over files for a client, the client’s name must match their gender. Not only do I think this is extremely impractical (what about gender neutral names? or names that English speakers may not be sure about?) it also has the potential to be gender-policing/transphobic and I’m not sure how it could be applied well.

    I’m not higher up in this company (I’m a team lead, so just under management but our department isn’t a “top” department) but I’m wondering if I can say anything to someone about this, because it’s a policy that makes me uncomfortable. I asked for and good some good advise in an open thread on Captain Awkward on this, but I always figure the more advise the better!

    1. Ann O'Nemity

      Yeah, I hate it when companies do that. I have a traditionally male name (not Ann), and I’ve run into some real problems with companies incorrectly assigning the male gender to me just based on my name.

    2. Anonymous

      No advice on phrasing, but I agree this can lead to problems. I once worked at a University and (with permission) someone went through the lists of all students living in dorms and mailed breast cancer awareness newsletters to those with female names.

      Angel Hernandez was not amused. He was teased horribly by the other students. (He was an international student from Mexico, where Angel is a male name).

      Also, when I was born in the early 1970s, my mother was set on naming me Michael so I would not be discriminated against in employment applications (I am female). Apparently, that was published advice because I have met a few other women my age named… Michael.

      Not sure if you can use those examples to help with phrasing.

      1. Liz T

        Weird–I’ve known way more male Angels than female Angels. As they were Latino (excepting the one who was a vampire with a soul), I’d think of anyone who assumed this as kind of ignorant.

        That being said, men get breast cancer, too, so I’d also err on the side of sending that info out.

      2. Andrew

        Many of the female Michaels of the 1970s were named after the actress Michael Learned, aka Mama Walton.

    3. Sascha

      What’s the purpose of this policy? Is the gender listed on the file? I don’t understand what is happening here.

      As for what you can do…I would start by talking to my direct supervisor about how it makes you uncomfortable, and why it would be bad business, and then go from there.

    4. -X-

      “the client’s name must match their gender”

      What does this mean? Their name is their name (unless you change it?) and their gender is their gender.

      Both things are fairly fixed, and certainly beyond your control to change. So if they don’t match, what happens. I mean, if a woman named Peter Smith is a client, what does that mean in terms of what you have to do.

      1. perrik

        “I’m sorry, Ms. Smith, but we will have to drop you as a client unless you undergo gender reassignment surgery. Your gender doesn’t match your name. It’s our policy.”

        1. Jamie

          As a woman mistaken for a man in 90% of business correspondence from strangers I do not like this idea at all.

          I’d just as soon note my second X chromosome in my sig tag.

        2. -X-

          Don’t be silly perrik, asking the client to change gender is nuts. Completely nuts. Just ask them to change names. That’s muuuch simpler.

          1. perrik

            I’ve legally changed my name twice – the surname one upon marriage, and the first name a little later on because I hadn’t gone by it for a couple decades.

            Frankly, given the option, I might choose reassignment surgery over another name change.

      2. Katniss

        Apparently we would then not pass the file on to the next step until that was fixed…I have no idea how they think it should be fixed, though!

        I’ll bring it up to my manager today. My first name is Morgan so I can easily just point out that that’s a gender neutral name right there.

    5. Anonymous

      I had a job working with US students traveling overseas. Often the gender would be input into forms incorrectly and we’d end up receiving female students that had been assigned to male rooms etc. So it was suggested that we run through the list before arrival and switch any that seemed likely to be the “wrong” gender. Most of the time that worked, but I remember one group that had four Madisons in it, three female and one listed as male. We guessed the male had been wrongly assigned, but nope, it was a boy named Madison. You really can’t tell with any names!

      1. Chinook

        The irony is that this can easily be fixed with a simple question in the form where they put their name.

        I had this happen at one place I worked where they were trying to figure languages spoken based on name and location (English vs. French in Canada). As the only anglophone in the group, I pointed out that my sister-in-law with a very English name took her entire schooling in Alberta in French and was fluent but you wouldn’t know it unless you asked. Their volunteer forms were updated to include languages read and spoken.

    6. RLS

      While I am born-and-raised, funny-“O”, “ya-you-betcha!” Midwesterner, my full name is so not American or even gender representative, it’s hilarious. I love my name and I think that it is actually a pretty good tool for resumes, because no one has ever heard of it, and so they can’t make heads or tails of my gender.

      The downside is that people receiving emails from me for the first time tend to think I’m a scammer :(

    7. Not So NewReader

      Does this company have any CLUE as to how ridiculous this rule is?
      Who thinks of this stuff?
      I can just see it on the news:
      “So Michael Learned walks into company X to do business. She is refused service because her first name does not match her gender. Lawsuit to come.”

      I think I will change my name to Danni.

      1. Anonymous

        Probably someone with misguided but good intentions – “We make a lot of mistakes when it comes to recording people’s gender, so let’s have the staff see if the name matches”

    8. Lily

      I think the company which changed my gender to male must have had such a policy. The company took the shortcut of writing my initials together without any periods to form a male first name. Then someone decided that I must be male and I got letters addressed to Mr.

  24. Ann O'Nemity

    Advice for dealing with a new manager who will not help with prioritization?

    She’s added several big projects to my already full plate and refuses to talk about prioritization beyond saying everything is a top priority. I’ve tried saying “I can do A, B, and C, but not D, E, and F.” and “I think A, B, and C are the top priorities. Do you agree?” but nothing has worked.

    1. Ash

      Have you e-mailed these thoughts to her to try and get proof that you’re trying to work with her on this? Schedule a meeting with her and maybe one other person (for a witness) so you can discuss this with her. If you have enough proof and she still hasn’t helped you out, go over her head.

      1. Ann O'Nemity

        Thanks for the response! I have email documentation and we’ve met several times but there has been no resolution. I haven’t brought in witnesses or gone over her head though. I was hoping the issue would resolve itself in time as she became more familiar with our projects and customers, but nothing has changed. Everything is a priority and she literally wrings her hands in panicked frustration with a deer in the headlights look when I even mention “priorities” or “capacity.”

        1. Ash

          I would schedule a meeting and bring in one of your direct reports (or a peer who is also her direct report in your area) who has to deal with this issue too. Both of you should discuss these issues, take notes, then e-mail your co-worker, boss, and CC yourself with notes from the meeting. Ask for an update within a week (or whatever timetable is best). If you haven’t heard from her by then, go over her head. You will be the one paying the price if something blows up.

    2. fposte

      Tweak the second a little to “I’m going to treat A, B, and C as priorities unless I hear differently from you,” and do it in email so that if there’s fan-spatter about D, E, and F you can point to where you checked the priorities with her.

      In other words: she won’t change, so CYA.

    3. TheSnarkyB

      In these situations, I’ve just tried to work quickly on everything in time-efficient things… Like if C requires an external party to get back to me, reach out to them and then while you’re waiting, do A, etc. I know it sounds obvious but a lot of the time, if everything was priority it also meant nothing was.. so just work on things however you want to and then you have the documentation when she asks why E isn’t done (well I was doing A,B,C,D, and F, obviously, Jane!)

  25. Meredith

    Hey everyone! My boss and I are looking for an alternative to Google Calendar–something web-based that we can both access, easy to use, and (very important), prints out well for him to take with him when he travels, which is often. He hates Outlook’s calendar or we would just use that. We’re currently using GCal but he’s not a fan of how that works either because of the printing issue–he doesn’t like the way it formats when printed. This actually came up as an issue for me to work on in my performance review this week, so I’m getting desperate. Any suggestions?

    1. Ash

      So your boss is being a picky baby about online calendar programs and this has somehow become your fault and is now being mentioned as something you need to improve in your performance review? Am I the only one seeing a problem here?

      1. Meredith

        Well, I also got a raise after only 6 months of working there and was told how awesome I am in general, so I feel like this is a pretty minor issue, considering. It’s part of the problem of being part of a two-person office; you’re on the receiving end of a *lot* of idiosyncrasy. I don’t think it’s out of line to look for a more functional calendar program. I do think the timing of bringing it up during my performance review as an “unsolved issue of your first six months” was a little weird.

        1. Anonymoose

          Maybe he feels he’s made it clear that he was expecting you to proactively source a solution to this? Maybe he’s voiced his displeasure with the current solution, and in doing so implied that you needed to find other options without pointedly telling you to do so. That’s the only reason I can fathom why this would wind up phrased this way in a performance review. If this is the case, then you’ve learned something valuable about this guy and how he works. In other words, if he voices a problem — “This XYZ is really not working for me; I hate the formatting when it prints” — he is in essence asking you to help solve it without coming right out and saying, “Meredith, please find a solution to XYZ.”

          FWIW, my boss absolutely loves it when people take charge of things this way without having to be officially tasked. She calls it level 1, 2, or 3 (level 1 = there’s a problem…level 2 = there’s a problem, and here are some solutions to look at….level 3 = there was a problem, and here’s how I solved it.) She loves it when her staff are level 2 or 3 for her.

          1. Ruby

            I wish my boss were that way. I’ve solved a number of problems on my own, and she seems threatened by that. It might be because her other employees are barely at a level 1 – “there’s a problem,” and she’s more comfortable with that.

    2. Anonymous

      Well, GCal does synchronize to a variety of desktop applications. How about this: sync your Google calendar to Outlook, then print from there. It’s annoying, sure, but most of the time you’d still be working with the interface that you seem to both like.

  26. Jamie

    The episode of Downton Abbey I’m watching now Thomas is crying because he’s been fired and Carson can’t give him a reference.

    There is amazing managerial issues which still apply today – I am wildly entertained by thinking of Everyone from Mrs. Hughes to the Dowager Countess writing to Alison for advice.

    1. Jane Doe

      Dear Alison,

      My cousin the Dowager Countess has applied for jobs on behalf of my maid, who is a former lady of the night and is turning her life around.

      Is this legal?

      -Isobel.

    2. Oxford Comma

      Dear Alison,

      Our second housemaid wants to find a job outside of domestic service. I am very supportive of her goal to become a typist and would like to assist her in anyway I can. Mama and Papa do not know. Would it be appropriate for one to provide her with references? How would one word such a letter?

      Lady Sybil

    3. Lisa

      No reference after 10 years of service sucks. But shouldn’t having worked for 10 years be enough of a reference that they liked you for at least 10 years? Not getting a reference back then was the equivalent of never having the job in the first place though. Poor Thomas, but now he is above Mr. Bates!

      1. LMW

        Dear Alison,
        My boss promoted an employee a supervise above a more qualified and well-trusted employee, just to win a cricket match. Is this legal?
        – Carson

  27. Laura L

    Sweet! I’ve been waiting for this.

    I know there are at least a couple of tax accountants on this website, so, here goes.

    I’m thinking of becoming a tax accountant. I’ve volunteer as a tax preparer for low-income and elderly people and I really like it.

    I don’t have a business or accounting background, so I would definitely need to go back to school to do this.

    I guess what I’m wondering is:
    1. What types of jobs tax accountants can get
    2. Are there any jobs in the field that I could get before going back to school to figure out if I like the work or not?
    3. Anything else I should know?

    Thanks!

    1. Malissa

      To be a true income earning tax accountant you need to be either a CPA or an Enrolled Agent. The EA is a certification program put out there by the IRS and is way more specific to taxes than the CPA. So I’d go that way for being a tax accountant. Also having some basic accounting courses under your belt would be good.

    2. De Minimis

      Just a few thoughts…

      Tax can be a narrow field, and you are often limited to public accounting work unless you live in an area with major companies [large publicly traded companies, usually] that have in-house tax staff. Even then, you would most likely have to start out in public accounting and work there a few years before you would be an attractive candidate to work as in-house tax staff. The trajectory that some would take would be to start out in public, usually be promoted up to senior associate or possibly manager, then leave to work for a client. Usually this is something that happens with people who work for Big 4 or other major firms. Depending on where you live and where you go to school, your options may be limited as far as different types of tax work.

      People sometimes do perform public accounting tax work long-term, but that happens more in smaller firms.

      Generally in tax the expectation will be that you will get your CPA license sometime during your first few years. You can’t really progress without it.

      Tax can be very limiting and I suggest people who go back to school in accounting try to get as broad a range of work as possible. I started out in tax and found it difficult to get my career going after losing my first job, mainly due to the focus on tax—it was hard to convince employers that I could apply the basic skillset to other fields. I have since moved into governmental accounting and am most likely done with tax work in my career. Speaking of government, some tax people go into the IRS, but it’s very competitive now and hiring is slow.

      I think it might be tough to get work prior to going back to school, although once you did return to school you might be able to get internships or other work with accounting firms. That would be the best exposure as far as tax work. There’s also the tax prep places, but usually the type of returns you would see there are not the same as the ones you’d see working in an accounting firm. I do know of people who did make the tranistion from tax preparer to working in public accounting, though.

      Your volunteer tax work definitely would be helpful as far as getting work with firms while in school…they like seeing volunteer work that is also relevant.

  28. frustrated!

    Hi – I have an issue I’d love some feedback on!

    I’ve had some poor luck with jobs in the last few years. I left a position I’d been in for 3 years (with the org for a total of 5) because I wasn’t getting the support I needed (and regularly asked for) from my boss and my boss’s boss. I worked with college students and loved what I did but was burnt out from all the extra work I kept getting and frustrated from continually asking for help and getting nothing. I went on to work for a non-profit, and my position was funded through a contract that went sour within 6 months of my arrival. I had no work to do for the final 6 months I was there and left to return to a college setting. I loved the people I was working with but was going crazy and jumped at the first opportunity I was offered. Big mistake.

    I have been in this position for about 6 months now, and the reality is nothing like what the position description advertised. In my interview, I spoke about being excited by the prospect of serving as a consultant to various departments and helping them with projects, as that was much of what the job seemed to entail. Instead, my work actually consists of editing and proofing documents, and we are actually not allowed to talk to anyone outside of the office (without permission from the boss), and we’re required to copy the boss on any emails that go out to people outside of the office (and he has a good 50 direct reports). In addition, my boss is unpredictable and rarely available, and the work I’m doing is nothing I’ve done before so there is a steep learning curve and no training. Everyone else in my office realizes that the office functions horribly, but all say things like ‘you get used to it’ and ‘that’s just the way it is.’ My boss has had us working on procedure manuals and purchasing project management software, none of which will work because he is the problem! He can be nice, but he intimidates the hell out of me. He brags about his powerplays to me and other junior staff members and we’re constantly relying on him for our tasks because everything in the office filters through him.

    I’ve considered talking to HR, but since I’m still on my 1-year probation, I can’t. It is incredibly frustrating that this position is described as it is and that the reality is so starkly different (and we continue to hire people with the same description!). I do not have a relationship with him such that I could bring up my concerns and frustrations with him.

    I’m coping as best I can, but I really hate what I’m doing and want to work with people (like I thought I would be). I’ve already decided that I cannot stay in this position, but I am afraid of looking like a job-hopper and I’m not sure how to address the fact that I’m looking again after being in my role for just 6 months. Any suggestions? And any thoughts on coping with this crazy and/or action I can take? Thanks!

    1. Ash

      Why can’t you talk to HR because of your probationary status? Is that an actual rule, or are you just making it one in your own mind? Go talk to HR, get help from someone, be pro-active. That will look a lot better than just allowing yourself to get overwhelmed and them stumbling for an answer when they ask why you didn’t seek help in the first place. Also start looking for a new job. You’ll find one more easily if you’re employed already.

      1. frustrated!

        There is a statement in our handbook that probationary employees may not make use of the grievance process. There is also no discussion of grievances against a manager (just employees/coworkers), so even if I could there’s no policy on the topic.

        1. Ash

          There’s no policy on the topic so make your own. Document discussions with your manager that you need help, show that you haven’t received help, then talk to someone! If nothing else, talk to your manager’s manager.

        2. TheSnarkyB

          Whoa…. that sounds really wrong to me. That sounds like “probationary employees shall be lightning rods for managerial abuse.”
          Is anyone else reacting negatively to this? Especially with a 1 year probation period!

        3. Anonymous

          There’s a difference between asking HR for help in making this work & filing a grievance! If you aren’t comfortable asking anyone in HR for advice, I encourage you to contact your EAP (employee assistance program) for help in figuring out better ways to handle the situation if only for keeping yourself on an even keel. Good luck.

    2. perrik

      “Why are you interested in leaving your position after such a short time?”
      “I was hired to do X and Y, which I was very excited to tackle because it fits my background and strengths so well. However, the actual position involves doing A and B with minimal managerial support in a strongly vertical department, and does not include any X or Y at all.”

      That’s a nicer way of saying “I got bait & switched into a crappy job with a manager who keeps our group isolated from the rest of the org and would probably pee on us to mark his territory if he could get away with it.”

  29. Minnie

    So I just found out that my company loads all the resumes it recieves onto our intranet, and that all anyone has to do is click on “resumes” and use the magic of the alphabet to find the person you want. So my address and cell phone number are just hanging out there, for 400 people to see. I don’t know if this is weird or not, but I’m weirded out.

    1. Jane Doe

      That’s weird. I’d ask HR to remove my address and cell phone number from my resume (or send them another copy with the address and phone number removed and ask them replace the version online).

  30. Anonymous

    Throwing this one out there:

    What is a reasonable amount of advance notice for a boss to give her team when she’s going to be on vacation out of the country and unreachable for two weeks?

    Especially when it involves her team needing to rearrange their schedules and work on days that they usually have off so that there is coverage in her absence?

    1. Kate

      A month? Presumably it was planned further in advance than that.

      When I was in that situation I gave three months’ notice and left behind a spreadsheet with projects listed, status, who was providing coverage, links to relevant docs, etc. But I was a coordinator and not managing anybody.

    2. fposte

      Are you a boss planning or a team member stewing?

      If you’re the former, tell ’em as soon as you know, include what rearrangements will need to be made, ask them if they see anything else that needs to be addressed, and remind them when you’re closer.

      If you’re the latter–sorry, dude.

      1. Anonymous

        Sorry that wasn’t clear; I am a team member stewing. I got 1 week’s notice.

        And, she knows I have another job to schedule around, which has never been a problem with her before. I had to really scramble to rearrange my schedule; fortunately, my other job was cool about it (I presented it as “can I make this schedule change for 2 weeks” rather than “OMG, sorry, I can’t work.”)

        Before this, I was in a job for many years where the boss had an annual several-weeks-long vacation. We always knew months in advance when she’d be gone, and scheduled our lives accordingly knowing that we were all in for lots of OT and much scrambling. (Even though she tried hard to prepare us and left excellent documentation, it seemed that there was always some zombie project from years earlier that would come back to us with some bizarre and urgent request right after she’d left.)

        If I’d have had more notice, I would’ve also taken on fewer non-work commitments during this time, which I am now having to cancel.

        Rant session over. Maybe. ;)

  31. Forrest

    I’m currently looking for a specific job in a specific field. Since there’s maybe one opening for me to apply for each week, I have a lot of time to wonder/stress about the materials I send. How do you distract yourself in situations like this?

    1. Malissa

      Learn to forget. Put your best application together, send it in and forget about it.
      Now that I’ve said that I’m not actually capable of that. But as you apply more, the stress does go down a bit. :)

    2. Julie K

      Volunteer. You will be thinking about what you’re doing and not about the most recent interview you had. You could make useful contacts, meet new friends, help people, etc. – all of which are better than sitting at home worrying.

    3. TheSnarkyB

      Info interviews – you’ll feel like you’re moving other things along career-wise without focusing on that one place. And you’ll be able to scope out new coffee and lunch spots in your area if they’re informal. :)

  32. Liz T

    FYI: I adapted the Magic Question for a grad school interview, and it went over really well:

    “Thinking back to past students, what’s made the difference between a good fit and a great fit?”

    They thought that was a great question. I did not get in though (I think for good reasons) so it’s not exactly a verdict on its usefulness in this setting.

    I also asked a question in that interview, and of the alum doing an info session, and in an interview for another program (fingers crossed!) that everyone really liked. Interested to know if y’all think it could be used in a non-academic interview:

    “Is there an aspect of the program about which you’d say, ‘If you’re not into this, you shouldn’t come here?'”

    I don’t know if it endeared me to anyone, but it got me a lot of useful info. I went to a one-year grad program that was a bad fit because I so respected the school that I didn’t ask the right questions, so now fit is SUPER important to me. I’m almost glad I didn’t get in to the first place–it’s more prestigious than the other program, and makes decisions earlier, so I would’ve had a REALLY hard time turning it down, despite having fallen in love with the second program. (The more prestigious program is wonderful unto itself but has few opportunities in my main areas of interest.)

    Don’t know if anyone here’s interested in grad school stuff, but hey–open thread!

      1. littlemoose

        I can totally see this question working in an interview setting, and benefiting both the employer and the interviewee. Like for my job, the answer would be “Working independently the vast majority of the time and writing all day.” If you don’t like that, this job is not for you. (Luckily I do – my job is a great fit for me, which AAM has helped me recognize and appreciate.)

    1. perrik

      “Is there an aspect of the program about which you’d say, ‘If you’re not into this, you shouldn’t come here?'”

      I am *so* stealing this question if I decide to investigate doctoral programs… not to mention for job interviews.

    2. Elizabeth West

      That’s a great question! I wish I could have traveled forward in time and read this when I was looking in 2005. It would have saved me the grief I got by accepting the Job from Hell.

  33. AB

    If you are a hiring manager or recruiter, does it have a negative impact on your first impression of a candidate if the resume doesn’t have a phone number for contact?

    (In my personal experience no, but I’m in IT and have very specialized skills that makes me an attractive candidate, so I’m hoping to get a broader perspective here for when I have to help friends with their resumes.)

    I’ve never included a phone number in my resume, because I don’t like being interrupted by unexpected phone calls. In my case, it always worked very well: I send my resume with my email address only, someone writes back saying they want to talk to me and providing their availability or suggesting a time, and only then I provide my Google Voice number.

    Assuming a candidate doesn’t look so good on paper that you would ignore any missteps in order to get a chance to interview her, would you remove the person from consideration just because of the lack of a phone number?

    1. Joey

      Yep, I assume their overly weird about screening phone calls or don’t have a phone and will be hard to get a hold of if hired.

    2. KayDay

      It would strike me as a little weird to get a resume from someone in-country without a phone number (it would be different if you were international). I’m usually the unlucky person who has to contact people to arrange interviews. I normally do this by email, but might need to call to follow up.

      I don’t think it would get your application trashed or anything, but it would definitely be noticeably odd.

    3. Ash

      If you don’t want to be interrupted by unexpected phone calls, just don’t answer your phone. Let it go to voice mail and then call them back. Not providing a phone number is weird.

    4. Sara

      I’d say its not unheard of, especially for high demand IT skills – we get that you are being contacted by multiple recruiters a day and understand that you might like a way to filter on your own time. However, its always preferable to have a phone number – i’m going to need it many times during your hiring process, and if its on your resume you are making my job easier (I’m a Recruiter, sorry forgot to mention that!). My person MO is to always send a quick email note first – I’ll follow up with a call the next day if I haven’t heard back – after that, I usually just let it go.

    5. Jubilance

      You can always get a Google Voice number and add that to your resume. Then you can set it to “do not disturb” and it will send all callers to VM, which you can check at your leisure.

      Or you can go to the low-tech route & simply turn off your ringers when you don’t want to be disturbed. But either way, you should probably include a phone number where you can be reached.

      1. AB

        Thanks everyone for giving me your input.

        @Sara: “I’d say its not unheard of, especially for high demand IT skills – we get that you are being contacted by multiple recruiters a day and understand that you might like a way to filter on your own time.”

        Oh, that’s probably what “my” recruiters are thinking, because I never had any trouble getting interviews without a phone number.

        Re: include your phone number and not answer: I want to answer it if the call comes from certain people, so I’d get interrupted anyway just to check who’s calling. But that’s what I already do with recruiters who already got my number and call when they have a position to offer (I just let it go to voicemail and then reply by email).

        A separate Google Voice could be a good idea for periods in which I’m actively looking for a job (which is rarely the case). I do have a number but could have one that I could switch on and off — will file that idea, thanks :-).

        It’s good to get a better understanding of how it may look like for some recruiters. I won’t change my process (because I’m at a point in my career where I can dictate how recruiters contact me — all the recruiters I’ve worked with find me very easy to deal with, so I’m far from a demanding diva, but this is where I draw the line). But I’ll definitely recommend to friends just starting their careers to provide a phone number now that I know the general preference.

  34. Jazzy Red

    Today is my birthday, and I’ve made the major decision to retire next year when I qualify for Medicare.

    I’m experiencing an amazing shift in my work attitude right now (hee hee).

    It’s nice to have a goal that isn’t soul-sucking cr@p.

  35. maisie

    Has anyone progressed from a receptionist/office manager/admin job into something specialized?

    I have a couple years of ‘real’ work experience while I was in grad school which is quite transferrable, but even though it was varied and interesting and useful work, it’s not specialized enough I feel like. Anyway, I’ve been looking for a job for a few months now and getting bored and annoyed, and considering a receptionist/office manager type position. However, I feel like this is taking a step back, and I don’t want to be in the same position a year from now where I want to ‘step up’ but I still don’t have specialized skills.

    Is it worth taking an admin job, or should I pursue a much lower paid ‘specialized’ job that will hopefully lead to a ‘career’? Basically, how am I EVER going to get a ‘real job’?!?!?! Is it even useful to take a reception type job, or am I just stalling and wasting time that could be used for a more useful job?

    To be clear, I’m not knocking admin jobs at all (I’m actually toying with the idea of being a PA long term), but I’ve had several college jobs (waitressing, etc), 2 years at a front desk at a salon, and 2 years in a reseach institute where I did tons of varied work (plus a masters degree, sadly in a useless field)…I feel like I just want to move on to a ‘career’.

    Thoughts? (Also if it makes any difference, I’m 23 years old, so I don’t know where a 23 year old should be in their career!)

    1. KayDay

      I work in internationally-focused non-profit organizations, and in this field entry level jobs tend to be administrative in nature (although, sometimes the titles don’t indicate this). Honestly, most people in my field go to grad school to bridge the gap between admin and specialized. Without a grad degree, admin jobs (in my field) lead to small grant/event management, which leads to more project/grant management.

      If you find yourself working in an admin job that isn’t presenting any opportunities at all to assist with research and/or project management, you need to get out and move on to something that does. (Again, that’s field specific advice).

      1. maisie

        Thanks!

        Unfortunately my graduate degree is pretty useless to me unless I wanted to go into academia forever (I don’t), so it’s not helping me at all (to be clear, I knew this going into it so it’s not a huge deal).

        I feel like the office manager positions tend to be more varied and have more responsibility than say, a receptionist, but I just worry that I won’t ever progress. And yeah, I guess it’s true that a lot of entry level jobs are admin anyway really, but what I mean is like…say I want to be an “HR assistant” or “marketing assistant” or whatever sort of junior/entry level position, it feels that even though I do have experience in both of those areas, it’s not enough to win over candidates who have degrees/qualifications in HR or marketing. And while I’ve read all the advice on resumes and cover letters, there’s only so much you can do in a competitive job market.

        I would be more than happy as an office manager, but I’m trying to figure out what to do now that will be useful long term, and I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot and waste time.

    2. Claire

      I think it depends on what you want to get into (I’m also 23, so I may not be a total expert!). My progression was basically temping as a receptionist throughout school and doing some office work on campus, then was able to get a temp position as a marketing admin, then a marketing coordinator, and have now parlayed that into permanent roles as an editorial assistant and marketing assistant (starting that one week after next!). I have a BA in Creative Writing, so I’ve definitely been able to emphasize my writing skills, but I don’t have any specialized marketing training (there were no business courses at all at my college, and I wouldn’t have thought to take them!) so my office experience/experience with software, customer service, etc. was probably a big plus.

    3. some1

      It really depends on the org whether or not you can move from receptionist to HR Assistant or Marketing Assistant. If you get a job as a receptionist hoping to move up, I would kick total behind at it and show an interest in Marketing or HR and ask to get some more work dealing with that. (Even if it’s sorting resumes at first.) The good thing about being the receptionist is that you are forced to learn about how the entire org works. You may find that HR or Marketing actually isn’t what you want to do.

      To be an Office Manager, you need several years of experience as an admin. Most of the Office Managers (who an admin usually reports to) that I worked for didn’t get that position until they were in their 40s.

      1. maisie

        Ys, this is exactly what I mean. Is it possible to show an interest in certain areas and then sort of progress that way? And of course, definitely do an awesome job at it :)

        As far as office manager, the positions I’ve been looking at only require a couple years experience, which I have. While I worked at the front desk, I managed all admin/HR/payroll/hiring/etc., so I DO have a lot of experience, which is why I was thinking I might be able to wrangle one of the positions.

        I guess it’s just hard to know from the outside what kind of organisation encourages/expects receptionists to want to progress vs those that definitely DONT want that because they want you to want THAT job and not just to get a foot in the door. I’d be happy working in admin for a while (i.e. I don’t expect to get a job and then get promoted in 3 months), but I definitely want it to be useful, since I already have admin experience, you know? I want to gain experience/exposure if possible.

        1. AB

          The best way to learn that would be during the interview process, asking something like “why is this position open?” (if they say the previous admin was promoted to HR or marketing assistant it would be a good sign) and “what would you say would be the opportunities for grow in this position, say after two years experience in this role? (it would convey that you don’t have unreasonable expectations of a promotion after 6 months, but do have ambitions to grow your career – if there aren’t any opportunities, it will give them a chance to avoid misleading you).

    4. Elizabeth West

      Oh yeah, this was me. B.S. in English, an unfinished master’s in education, and stuck on the front desk–I thought forever. I didn’t want to teach, and there wasn’t anything else I could do–not good in math, so no accounting, and no HR aspirations either. I had been writing again for quite some time, and doing my best to put samples out there, and do some content work, etc., so I had an online presence, and had been really considering taking a shot at a career in that field already.

      What helped me was doing a very intensive analysis of what I learned in school, what skills I had gained by working the front desk, and what I did and didn’t want to do at work. I did this for a return to school, but it worked out that when NewJob came along, I already had my ducks in a row and was able to jump on it.

      I don’t recommend just getting a job as a receptionist hoping to move up unless you need it to eat; it could take YEARS. You would need to have a very clear idea of what exactly you want to do and really push at learning it every chance you got. It really depends on what you want to do; some things may require more education. Some you might be able to levy your existing skills into.

      There’s nothing wrong with being a career admin, either. You can take secretarial courses–if you hook up with a larger company that offers professional development and has tons of departments, like mine, you can do it through work. We have an admin course and I’m just about to join Toastmasters too, at work. :)

      Really think about what you want–that will help you find a path. Once you decide, you can seek out professionals in the field and maybe do some informational interviews (just don’t use them to ask for a job). Ask them how they got to their current position, what work experience you might need, etc.

      Good luck! You can do it!

    5. ZombiesRPeopleToo

      I made the jump, but like Elizabeth said below I wouldn’t count on it. I started as an admin at a small law firm, and since I kicked butt at it I was given more responsibilities/projects. When one of the paralegals left I was already doing half her job and got promoted. However, now my boss is trying to refill the admin spot and is deliberately NOT looking for somebody like me because she doesn’t want them to leave.

      Can anybody tell me if high turnover is kind of expected in admin positions?

  36. Your Mileage May Vary

    Alison, I have some questions for you I’ve been saving for this thread:

    1. Lately, I’ve been getting a notice saying the certificate for this site isn’t updated and may cause a security risk. Is that something on my end or something you need to fix?

    2. What do I need to do to the ads to make sure you get revenue from them? Is it enough to let them load or should I click through to them. I don’t mind clicking through if it keeps getting me pictures of goats and cats and kolache recipes. Oh, yeah, and work advice. :) I can completely understand if you don’t want to talk about your income stream here; if so, just ignore this.

    3. Also, I’ve noticed a lot of commenters are knitters and/or crocheters. I wonder if you mind if we start an AAM group on Ravelry. It’s a forum for knitters/crocheters and people can have complete anonymity if they want. I don’t envision it being a group where we talk about work stuff since we’ve got the LinkedIn group for that but it might be cool to have a group to talk about our fiber stuff. Because who really can get enough of that?

    Thanks.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      1. Shoot. I need to figure out how to fix that on my side, and I have no idea, so I’ve been ignoring it. It’ll go on my list.

      2. Thank you for asking! My ad payments are linked to page views, not click-throughs, so I get revenue just by you coming here and looking through the site. No need to click on any ads — just don’t use software that prevents ads from loading. And of course, read the site here rather than in an RSS reader so that you count toward overall page views :)

      3. Go for it! I’d love a link to check it out if you do.

      1. Lisa

        1) It usually has something to do with having an external link that is not a https link. Add the S to any http links on a particular post that has the warning and see if it goes away. Since the site has new posts constantly, the homepage won’t always show the warning since the post with the offending missing S on the http link has been pushed down past the number of posts you allow per the homepage.

        1. danr

          The warning comes up first when I use a direct https connection on my laptop and never comes up with a regular http connection, which what I get when I click through from the daily emails on the same laptop. I’ve just been ignoring it since I trust AAM.

    2. FollowRaveler

      # 3 sounds like a really good idea. I didn’t know about the LinkedIn group. Will check it out. Hope a Ravelry group is in the works.
      1

      1. Jamie

        Anyone interested can go to LinkedIn and search AAM networking group. I have nothing to do today except approve new members so welcome. We have over 700 members there now – still amazes me.

        1. P

          Awesome! I didn’t realize this existed and just submitted a request! I love the commenters on this blog (even if I don’t comment too often.)

      1. karenb

        Is someone taking the lead on this?? I will if no one wants to… And I have time today as my boss has left for the weekend!!

        1. Elizabeth West

          Aww poo, I barely have time to even read AAM since school started. :(

          I just now learned to knit–making a washcloth. I think I’ve got the hang of it, but I better learn to bind off before I finish! 0_0

  37. Amanda

    Any advice on how to make a skype interview less awkward? This is my second skype interview; I thought I had prepared well for my first one but I still had a hard time getting into the “flow” when actually in the interview.

    Also, are their any NYers that could weigh in on how an out-of-state candidate could paint themselves as not naive about the challenges of living in such a big city? I have the “Midwestern country bumpkin” stigma following me (even though I’m from a largish city and spent two years living in another mid-sized city!)

    Thanks!

      1. Anonymous

        Corollary: As someone who tends to talk fast, make sure you still enunciate and don’t become a mumbler.

    1. native NY'er

      It depends on the industry (i.e. I’m in a creative industry, so the “stereotypical NYC’er” is mostly just that, a stereotype). That said, sit up straight and lean a little forward, make sure you’re dressed in a suit-jacket, make eye (screen?) contact, and don’t talk too fast (contrary to the above…)–One of the problems with skype is the possible lag (especially with a slower connection) between when they say something and you hear it. Also, make sure you have a fast and stable broadband connection!

      And definitely be prepared to answer the “how do you feel about relocating to NYC” question. Say (if industry appropriate) you’re looking forward to the faster pace and the vibrant city life. It’s helpful to look up the neighborhood where the potential employer is located and get an idea of what’s around there, and when you’re asked the question you can toss in how excited you are to, for example, “eat a cupcake at __chocolateteapot__ local bakery” or something like that. Yelp can be helpful in getting the inside skinny on neighborhoods, as can city data.

      DON’T:
      Mention sports.
      Mention common tourist destinations (i.e. Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Gray’s Papaya, etc).

      Good luck!

      1. danr

        Especially sports. The NYC region has two major league baseball teams, three hockey teams, two basketball teams, and two football teams (both of which really play in NJ). College football is mostly unknown but college basketball is big. There is no way to to know who follows what teams, if any.

    2. fposte

      There’s a Skype interview post in the AAM archives–I’ve got to run so can’t find the link for you, but there’s a lot of good advice there.

    3. Andrew

      Not currently a New Yorker, but I lived there for 20 years, and I don’t think you should worry.

      Many New Yorkers actually come from somewhere else, and they will see themselves in you. They were once newcomers as well, and will talk on and on about their first days in the city. All you need to do is express confidence that you were born to be living there, mix in a little awe at the prospect, and turn the tables by asking for advice.

      New Yorkers, even many highly accomplished ones, are softies at
      heart and will be charmed by a little naïveté about life in the city. It will activate that mother duck feeling, and they will want to tell you everything they know about the city they love.

      1. StudentA

        Uh, that brought tears to my eyes. I have a love affair with NY, and hope one day to live there.

    4. Rana

      Call friends on Skype to practice, particularly the trick of learning how to shift your eyes between camera and screen so that you can see what people are saying, but also appear to be looking at them. (I swear, that’s the most annoying part of Skype – the wonkiness of trying to maintain eye contact.)

      1. TheSnarkyB

        What I do with my friends is I take them off full screen and put them in the center top of the screen – Unless you feel you need to be reading their face reeallyy closely, this’ll give you a good idea of how they’re reacting and it’ll give your eyes less traveling distance… makes it a little less weird.

      2. Amanda

        Thanks! Boyfriend called me and practiced with me, so I got a “mock interview” in.

  38. ExceptionToTheRule

    I have what I consider to be a unique problem and I need some advice for managing up. I am a pseudo-supervisor of 10 people. Basically I handle everything except formal reviews, payroll & discipline.

    Here’s the problem. One of my guys is a hoarder. At work. His cubicle could be a an episode of the A&E show. It’s been going on for 15 years and 5 managers. Our building has a false floor for all the cables in the building, which was built in this 1980s and hasn’t seen any updates since.

    Two weeks ago, we spotted a mouse running into the hoarder’s cubicle. Which totally freaked out the woman who sits in the next cube over, which Mr. Mouse is using as a little workout track. Mr. Mouse comes up from the sub-floor through the cable conduits and lives in the hoarder’s cubicle in, what we believe, is a vast network of interconnected mouse condos in the stacks of paper that are everywhere.

    I told Hoarder that he needed to clean. Period. End of Discussion. Problem is Hoarder has to read every piece of paper or newspaper article before it can go in the recycling bin.

    After watching this for a couple of days, I approached our manager for permission to issue an ultimatum – if it’s not done by X date, I’m going to do it for him. Permission denied.

    I’m looking for advise on how to get our manager to give me said permission. Suggestions?

      1. ExceptionToTheRule

        There’s absolutely nothing in there of work value – nothing needs to be scanned and saved. He doesn’t even sit in there. Actually, he can’t sit in there…

        I’ve been thinking about talking to our business office manager, but she’s the one who had the pest control guy called, so she knows about it. The only person over her head is our general manager and I really, really don’t want to have to do that (but if push comes to shove I will).

        If he quit tomorrow? We’d handle it the same way we handled the other hoarder, the one died unexpectedly. His family would be allowed to come in and take what they want and the rest would be roughly sorted & thrown away. Any cash found would be the property of the brave soul who did the cleaning.

        1. Jamie

          How is this allowed in a workplace? I am embarrassed if the papers on my desk are in disarray when someone comes in.

          Vermin makes this a bigger issue than documents…and seriously if he has mice in there if you hire a temp for scanning s/he needs to know to wear gloves and a mask. Hanta virus and reasons of general filth.

          In a workplace this should never be an option.

          1. ExceptionToTheRule

            If I ever get an answer to that question, I’ll share with the class, but many, many things go on here that would mean instant termination in any “normal” workplace.

          2. Not So NewReader

            I agree with you, Jamie. This is a work place health issue. This sounds like a building that could draw rats. Does the boss have a plan for when this problem escalates to rats? Because that is where this is going.

            I would assume that the employee is never going to clean up the mess. I have heard that rats can get as big as cats….
            ETTR, do you have any health codes or safety codes that must be met? Am also thinking of fire safety. If a fire inspector walked in what would he say?

    1. COT

      It’s his hoarding has reached a true mental-health issue it will be very difficult to treat. If it’s just a lack of organizational skills, maybe he needs some training or standards. Could you have everything scanned and saved digitally (maybe with a temp’s help)?

      1. Elizabeth West

        If he has to look at every single thing and it’s still a mess, that means he isn’t throwing it out. That’s not a lack of organization. That’s hoarding. He needs treatment–this doesn’t stop on its own.

        I’m not sure what to recommend at work. It’s a bit different situation than at home. Technically, the OP’s company has control of the workplace; like an apartment hoarder, he can be evicted (fired) and everything pitched. If there are vermin, it’s a serious problem.

        If the company has an employee assistance program, perhaps they can offer him some help. Maybe a professional organizer who has experience with hoarding (that is important, because there are specific ways to handle it) can come in and help him clean up?

    2. Andrea

      I had a coworker with hoarding issues. He left to start his own business at the end of February, but guess who still has a storage room, two cubicles, and all the conference room bookcases full of stuff. Yup.

      1. Julie

        Keep what you want and throw out/recycle/donate the rest.

        I site in a large room with about eight cubicles in it. When I was assigned my new cubicle, some other guy’s stuff was in the above-desk cabinets, so I took his stuff out, found his number (he’s still with the company, just on another floor), called him and told him his stuff was on the table in the front of the room. He said he would come pick it up. He never did, so I moved it into another vacant cube because it made our whole area look like a trash heap. Now someone else is sitting in that cube, so I assume it got thrown out. If you leave stuff in a desk you don’t sit at, I think you run the risk of having it tossed.

    3. ThatGirl

      I don’t have anything to add really, just a comment. I love/hate that show because it’s just so mind boggling to me that people live like that but I can’t.pull.my.eyes.away.
      Lol, my hubby has to physically turn off the TV for me so I can stop watching that show (made even worse by the fact that they always have a marathon).
      Seriously, he hoards at work? I shudder to think of his house.

      Sorry, I keep my work space to the absolute minimum, like if I was fired today then I could just grab my coat and purse and roll on out of here.

      I have an irrational fear of being fired from my job. I worked with someone a few years ago and he was fired, it literally took him 3 hours to clean out his work space and leave. It was so.so. sad :-(

      I just don’t want to be the girl version of that guy.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Having been fired and also laid off unexpectedly, I have the same fear. Even when my boss is saying “That is freaking REMARKABLE,” as she did today when I updated the database document, all I could focus on were the tiny mistakes I made. :{

        1. Job seeker

          Elizabeth, I am so happy for you getting your new job. I know how stressed you were at the beginning of this year. I also understand because I am stressed about a job too right now. On the good side, if I had been working this year we would have owed much more in taxes. I am getting to be here and help my mother get things straightened out. On the bad side, the clock is ticking and my experience is looking farther than recent. But, on the good side I am just going to have to figure out a plan. Even if I volunteer after I get a few things straightened out to get more recent experience. Where there is a will there is a way I suppose. It would have been nice to have worked longer and have a 401 K for myself. My husband has one but then again I do have a IRA in my name. I am adding more to that account this year. I guess I just have to realize you do the best you can.

    4. Rana

      Hire someone else to sort through the papers? (I wouldn’t require this of another current co-worker, for obvious reasons.) The main thing is to get the crap out of there in a timely fashion, while not throwing away something essential by accident…

      Although. It occurs to me that if things have been piled up in there long enough to attract mice, it’s 99% likely that the vast majority of the stuff in there is not essential, simply due to age and having been ignored for so long. Any hardship caused by tossing out some papers by accident would, I think, be outweighed by the problems leaving things as they are – and letting hoarder co-worker deal with the problem he’s clearly incapable of handling in a useful way – so, I say, give him a week, and then just have the janitorial staff clear away anything remaining that’s not clearly a personal possession.

  39. CFinn

    My fiance is in a situation where job requirements were not communicated clearly to him or anyone else in his 3 person department before they were hired, and he’s not sure if it’s his boss who withheld the information or the recruiter.

    The specific situation is that no one in the department was told they would be exempt employees and expected to work a minimum of 50 hours a week (with set shifts). They are also expected to be on call for emergencies, and on call for routine support one weekend a month. NONE of this was communicated when they were hired. The same communication gap just happened with a new hire, and the boss said the recruiter was supposed to tell the new guy it was a 50 hour work week. He was never told and now is having issues with childcare as a result of assuming 9-5 hours.

    My fiance isn’t sure whether the recruiter was shady, or his boss, or both. Would you place the blame on both people? Why would a recruiter, who doesn’t get paid unless employees last 6 months, have incentive to withhold this info?

    1. TRB

      I’m not sure whose fault it is between the recruiter or the boss. Potentially both if they both knew. What made your fiance and/or the new hire think it was a typical 9-5 job? Did this employer purposely mislead them or was it just never brought up? I guess this is a lesson to all of us readers to always ask the typical hours of the job.

    2. Anonymous

      Does it matter who was to blame? This is the situation at his job. The position requirements could just as easily have changed during his employment and he would be faced with the same situation. Does he want to work this way or not? If not, he can speak to his boss about a change, although it sounds likely this will be refused. If it is refused and he doesn’t want to work this way, he needs to look for another job.

      One side note – it may be worth evaluating whether this job is truly exempt. If this position is incorrectly classified, he may have a case for overtime.

  40. VictoriaHR

    What is the best way to handle pushy car salespeople?

    I am currently in the market for turning in my 2-year-old leased car for a new leased car. I’ve sent email requests online for more info at 2 different dealerships for the same make of car (my usual go-to make) and both times, the salespeople have started blowing up my phone.

    First of all, I work 8 to 5 and don’t answer my cell at work unless I know it’s my kids’ daycare. Secondly, I specifically request no phone contact. They just will NOT take “please email me instead of call” for an answer.

    Then, of course, I can’t buy rightthisminute and need to do my research and shop around, but they want to get me in a new car today so that they can make their commission. It’s very frustrating.

    1. Joey

      Don’t deal with them. Ask around for a good salesperson. Once you find one don’t let go.

      Or don’t provide your phone number.

        1. Sascha

          Dalworth carpet cleaning number? Sometimes I just put 000-000-0000 but of course, some forms flag it.

        2. -X-

          Put in the dealerships’s phone number. I’ve done that a few times with online forms where I did not want to be called and was worried I would be.

    2. Sascha

      Keep telling them no. They will keep trying to get you to say yes. Sadly I don’t think much is to be done for pushy care salespeople. I went through the same thing when I got my last car – requested no phone contact, and of course, they kept calling me. They ended up on my block list. I feel your pain.

    3. the gold digger

      It’s been years since I bought a car, but sadly, what helped me not get pushed around was taking one of my dad’s friends with me to the lot. Mr C. knew more about cars than I did and was able to note that the used car the guy was trying to sell me had been rolled and repainted. I was livid that someone had lied to me like that.

      Now that I am married to a car nut, I hope never to have to go through the car-buying ordeal again, although if I had to now, it wouldn’t be so bad because my cousins own a small dealership and I am close enough that I could buy from them.

      I wouldn’t buy from the people who have ignored your requests and I would talk to the owner of the dealership and tell him why he won’t be getting your business.

      1. Job seeker

        I am married to someone that knows how to deal with car dealerships too. My husband bought me a new car a year ago and honestly they would have tried to pull things on me. I do not know their tricks and he does. Spring cleaning has started here and I do know how to deal with this though. Yesterday, I had carpet-cleaners out to freshen up and clean our carpets from the winter. I have a large home and I also have a window-cleaning service that I will be using next month. We have a two story European style home with high ceilings and windows. I already had a cleaning service come out that helps me a few times a year with the deep cleaning of our bathrooms. We have four bathrooms and hard water in our area so I have that taken care of. I use the same two ladies every year so I know they help me do a good job. Now the yard is next.

        Now if I could just have someone take my place tonight at a business dinner my husband has to go to. My husband is in management and he wants me to always go with him. I really hate that stuff but I have to go.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Off-topic, but since you have experience with this, do you have any hints on finding a good cleaning service? I really want to hire someone to help me scrub this house from top to bottom, once I get some de-hoarding (!!!) done. It’s a small house and I don’t have tons of money, but after reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickled and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America, I really don’t want to hire Merry Maids. There was some yucky stuff in there.

          1. The gold digger

            Whomever you do hire, don’t let Ehrenreich’s disdain keep you from wanting the cleaner to get on his hands and knees to scrub the floor. It really is the only way to get it clean (which I’m sure you know). Me, I just push a rag around with my foot and don’t wear my glasses around the house, but if I am paying someone, I expect them to do it right.

            1. Elizabeth West

              What yucked me out was them using the dirty rag all over the place. It seemed like in the interest of getting the illusion of a tidy house and doing more than one place a day, they weren’t really getting it clean.

          2. Job seeker

            Elizabeth, ask around to get the name of someone good in your area. My neighbor across the street uses these same ladies to clean her house. I saw them at her house once and got the name of the agency and a reference from her. The ladies that help clean for me own this cleaning service and have done work for me for two years. Some people use Angie’s List but I have never found anyone in my area on that. You do need to get a reference if you can.

            1. Elizabeth West

              Thanks, Job seeker. I will ask some people at work too, see if any of them know someone. My neighborhood isn’t good enough to ask neighbors LOL. Maybe someday I’ll get out of here….

        2. Jamie

          When you go tonight pretend you’re a novelist and each person you meet is a character in your new book. Give them all fascinating back stories…the heiress hiding from her controlling family, the jewel thief who knows the true identity of the heiress and is trying to get into her circle in order to case her home, the kind man who is outwardly jovial but you can see he hides a deep sadness…he’s never recovered from his broken heart when his one true love married another. She threw him over for a man with softer hands and all the paraffin treatments in the world won’t bring her back.

          Then there’s the charming swim coach who is fighting his chlorine allergy, the wife with the secret addiction to the smell of Murphy’s Oil Soap…

          You get the idea. This is what I do to entertain myself when I’m amongst strangers….but then I’m more solipsistic than most so many be this is only fun for me.

    4. -X-

      Don’t give them a phone number.

      If you already have, just tell them you want the info in email, and that you cannot talk on the phone. Say it firmly and then hangup.

      “They just will NOT take “please email me instead of call” for an answer.”

      Yes, hang up after saying “If you’d like me to buy from you, send me the information I asked about or email me any questions you have. I can’t talk on the phone.” Click.

      Unless you urgently need the car, you have no need to continue in a relationship that doesn’t suit you.

      I have to add, I once needed a new car in two days (our old one had a serious problem emerge and we would have had to rent for my spouse to get to work if we didn’t buy right away) but didn’t let on about that, and actually almost walked out of a dealership when they weren’t listening to what I wanted. I was stone cold. Worked wonders. Being about to walk away/hang up, or make them think you will, is very helpful in those negotiations.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Yep – it’s just like dealing with pushy salespeople in the Middle East or Asia. I will not shop anywhere where I am being harrassed. I will walk out of stores because people won’t give me space to look around, and I have no problem telling them “you just lost my sale because you kept bothering me after I asked you to let me look around.”

        When you’re buying a car, or anything for that matter – you have all the power. You’re the only one who can make the decision to complete that transaction, not them. They need you, not the other way around. Don’t let them convince you otherwise.

    5. Jamie

      Ugh! Reminds me of one of the realtors we used when buying the house. I was so freaking clear that we needed 4 bed and 2 bath – and I was flexible on many, many things but I would not live in a one bathroom house.

      Calls me at work to have my husband and I meet her at this perfectly adorable house (adorable is code for small) which had 2 bedrooms and a closet they called a den which she said could be converted into another bedroom (no) and ONE bathroom.

      I turned on my heel and immediately walked out – which my husband said was rude. Please, I was temping, she cost me money because she didn’t understand that one bath isn’t the same as two. Fairly easy math.

      Salespeople – you can browbeat some people but others you will lose of you don’t listen. I’d be firm and then find a decent car sales person.

      1. Natalie

        Not being a pushy asshole pays dividends, IMO. I have been kicking around the idea of buying a house and I met a realtor recently. I made it clear that I was very casually looking and wouldn’t be buying for at least a few years, and this realtor was very cool about that. She set up an email alert for me (at my request) but otherwise has left me alone. When I do get closer to buying, she’ll most likely be the person I choose.

    6. perrik

      “If you call me again, I will not do business with you. This is your final warning, you may only contact me via email.”

      I don’t put down a phone number on requests like that unless a number is required, in which case I enter in a generic 555-1212.

      (we prefer to buy cars through a local dealership group whose salespeople are salaried rather than on commission – this cuts down the stupid high-pressure crap)

    7. Malissa

      If you have a membership to Costco or Sam’s both have excellent new car buying programs.

      1. Sascha

        What???? Yet another reason I want to get Costco membership. I would happily let someone else do my car buying for me. Can I contract Costco to do all my raise negotiations as well?…

        1. Malissa

          I’ve had 3 coworkers get cars through Costco’s program. All they do is show up and the dealership, sign a few papers and drive away. If I were buying a new car I would totally use the program.

          1. Jubilance

            The last car I bought was through a similar program ran through my credit union. I told the program what types of cars I was interested in & they did all the rest of the work for me – setting up test drives, haggling on price, etc. All I had to do was show up, drive & decide which one I wanted & sign. Super easy.

  41. Kate

    Is it totally rude or aggressive to email strangers on linked-in to ask for an informational interview? A question asking session really.
    I’m looking to move into a slightly different field (sort of a sub-speciality of my current field). I THINK this is what I want to do with my career but I would love to know more about the day to day of their jobs and the path they took to get there. I don’t know anyone in the field currently but their are a lot of companies in my area that have people in these roles. I was thinking of reaching out to some of them through linked in and offering to buy them coffee or a drink so we can chat. I’m horrible at networking, and not particularly outgoing, which is why I’m wondering if it would be too awkward to get a linked-in email from a complete stranger.

    If they agree should I bring my resume and portfolio (I’m a designer) for them to review. Or would that be asking too much of them?

    1. Malissa

      I wouldn’t be put-off by someone asking for this kind of help. But everybody is different. So be clear that it is okay to say no. I’d ask for the review only if the initial meeting went well. Is it something you could email over and let them review on their own time?

      I had success doing something similar with classmates.com when I had to do research on campus events in the 1960’s. I actually got a way better response rate than I expected.

    2. Jamie

      If nicely asked I’d be flattered and happy to do this for someone.

      Then again I enjoy few things as much as talking about my job.

    3. Rana

      I wouldn’t mind. I’d probably need to think about whether I wanted to do it, but the email itself would be perfectly fine. And offering to buy me coffee would be persuasive, especially if you set a clear limit on how much of my time you intended to take up.

  42. Angry Writer

    Jumping on to say how gorgeous that sweet cat is … again. And, how I just realized that both kitty and mommy are gingers!

      1. Rana

        You have a whole family of redheads! :)

        (My own kitty is small, black, and bossy, and is fully the cat I deserve… in both senses of the phrase!)

  43. Eric

    My boyfriend is currently in the interview stages for a position in London (we live in New York so this would be a HUGE change.) Is it wrong of me to want to leave my job and go be a househusband for a while while he works his butt off?

    1. the gold digger

      Nope. I had six years off and it was fabulous. Plus having you at home to make supper and clean the house and let the plumber in will make his job so much easier.

    2. ABC

      Not at all. But do think about what happens when you return & try to get back into the game. Is your industry forgiving?

        1. Emma

          While he’s working away, you can get down to the very important business of learning allll about your new city! Including learning the good places to eat and drink, and perhaps building up your friend network in your new home. It can be tough to establish yourself in a wildly different place when both people are working.

          1. Anonymous

            You should make sure to explore *all* avenues to legal work though – for instance, apparently some EU countries’ citizenship can be passed down for generations without ever setting foot in the country, so if you’re forefathers are European, you need to investigate that country’s citizenship laws to see if you might be one.

            1. Eric

              Unfortunately, I’m not–I looked into it a few years ago for an unrelated reason. I’m of Irish ancestry and basically my mother would have had to apply for Irish citizenship before I was born, in order for me to eligible for Irish citizenship.

              My father, well, his side of the family is very unclear, but as far as I’ve been able to determine, they’ve been living in America since the early 1700s, so that’s unlikely either.

              1. fposte

                I doubt that it’s still true, but about 30 years ago Irish foreign-born citizenship could be retroactive. My great-grandfather was born there and technically that made my mother eligible for citizenship, which would then operate retroactively to my birth and make me Irish. I pooped out on doing it because I would have had to get birth and marriage certificates for every relevant generation and my family isn’t close enough to have that stuff around.

                More practically, you can, as Andrea says, volunteer :-). Seriously, living in London? Hard to pass that one up.

          2. Rana

            Is your field something that could be done remotely? If so, it might be possible to work with US clients, provided you pay US taxes as part of it.

    3. COT

      Not at all. I wish that I could have a househusband! There’s nothing demeaning about wanting to handle the domestic affairs while your partner works, and there’s nothing demeaning about wanting to come home from a long workday with all of that stuff already done for you. If that’s what you two want and afford, go for it! I can only imagine how much more leisure time we’d have together if we didn’t have to spend our limited evening/weekend time cleaning, cooking, running errands, doing yardwork, handling repairs, etc. It sounds heavenly.

      I think I enjoy having a job too much to stop working entirely, but I’d work PT and spend more time on household work in a heartbeat if we could afford it. And I think my husband would gladly do the same if we didn’t both need FT jobs.

      The only caveat, as someone mentioned, is making sure that you can still get back into the working world if you want to later. Keep a PT job or a volunteer gig to keep your skills and contacts fresh.

      1. Eric

        If we do decide to go for the move, I would definitely look for volunteer opportunities. I’m fine to take care of the house (well, probably flat) but I’d go crazy without getting out of the house at least sometimes.

        I won’t be able to legally work, so no paid work (unless it’s under the table.)

        1. Malissa

          Volunteer work can be totally relevant for experience. Just look for some thing that actually requires skills you have or are willing to learn.
          Or you could spend all day in the galleries. Admission is free to most of them in London. Well that’s what I would do anyway.

    4. -X-

      I know someone who did exactly that for about five years. They’re back in NYC planning on getting married. But arguing about a pre-nup….

    5. Anonymous

      Perfectly understandable, and I mostly envy you. However, if you want to be employable later, you might think about other options during your time in London. If you take classes (not a full load, just one) you will be able to explain this interval as taking time to develop your skill in X as a student at the International School of Chocolate Teapot Makers.

      Alternatively, you might want to confirm just how much you can’t work – even if you can’t be employed by a local company, you might be able to work on your art, your knitting, or your novel-writing for example. Or your blog on the life of an expat in London. These will give you something else to discuss in interviews so future employers don’t think you spent all your time lounging around in pubs.

      Unless you decided to write a guidebook to pubs, in which case this could count as research. ;-)

      1. Eric

        Hah! Well if this does happen, I already have a couple creative pursuits that I could devote some more time to, and school’s an option too. I’m not really interested in sitting around watching TV all day. ;)

    6. FormerManager

      Just be realistic. My mom became a housewife after I was born and is still convinced that if anything had happened to my dad, she could have jumped into a school administration role based on her master’s alone despite 10+ years of no work experience.

    7. Elizabeth West

      No, but make sure you have a plan for keeping up with skills in case you want to go back to work one day.
      I think that sounds fabulous; I love London. I would love to be a housewife in London. Dear God, you’re about to live my fantasy.

  44. Waiting Patiently

    I got a letter from a state agency a few days ago saying they put a hiring freeze on a position I had applied for due to budgetary constraints and if they get authorization to fill the position by April 24 I would be considered. I was simply happy to get a response because often you get to application and/or interview round and hear nothing either way!

  45. ABC

    2 Questions: 1 trivial, 1 just hoping for info

    Trivial Q:
    I am terrible at networking & am trying to get better at it.
    I often see the advice of sending out interesting articles to the network on the subjects of interest. Now, whenever I do find something great, I am seized by the sense “hey people would have of course seen this too, why be repeatitive?” because the stuff I read and is good has a high probaility to be on a good site/newspaper that others would read too right?
    So I end up not sending. At All. Which kinda defeats my purpose. So. What do I do – send out saying, “here is something interesting although you may have already seen ….”???

    Just hoping for some info Q: I have a research (market) background. I am kinda at a dead end at my job & looking for ideas to give it a new push. Can I make a switch to SAP Business Intelligence in a functional role post training & certification. – i currently dont know if a SAP BI can actually have some scope for someone like me. Any insights much appreciated…

    Thanks a ton! I love reading AAM & all you folks!!!

    1. Colette

      Well, there’s lots of stuff on well-known sites that Inever get a chance to see, so Idon’t think you need to worry or mention that they might have already seen it.

      If you decide to start sending links, though, I’d recommend that you include a short (2-3 sentence ) summary and ideally tie it back to something the recipient is interested in or struggling with.

      1. Emma

        Yay! I am job-hunting (currently employed, but it’s a term gig that ends this summer) so I might want to take you up on that.

      2. G

        Yay! Exactly what I was looking for. I keep asking friends to review mine and all the seem to do is de-AAM it. I think there’s a need for a group of AAM approved resume reviewers.

  46. Sort of Anon Q

    So I have a question I’d like the commentariat’s thoughts on. Sorry if the details seem fuzzy… I’m trying to obfuscate for privacy.

    I work for a very large international professional services firm. Recently I was assigned a menial crappy task that occasionally people at my level (staff) have to do. It required going to a local plant of a client for a different office (In a different region of the country, we have many offices). The client is a manufacturer and I would have to go to the plant for an inspection of sorts.

    The scheduling of this was all very last minute. Then the day before the site visit I got pulled from the job because the manager from the other office wanted a man to do it. In an effort to save space I’m not going into all the details of how I know that is the case but I 100% know it’s true. What I didn’t know was why he wanted a man on the job. As it’s a sort of shitty assignment that would have required getting up at 5:00 AM I didn’t make a stink because 1) I didn’t actually want to do it and 2) I sort of figured it was something to do with the client (they don’t take women inspectors seriously or ladies who go there have a history of being harassed or something).

    I talked to the guy who ended up doing it, he is a local colleague of mine that I work with frequently and know very well. I asked him if he could tell why they wanted a man to go and he said no, in fact the client rep who was accompanying him was a woman. So now I can be fairly certain that it was my own company’s manager (the one from the other region) who had the preference that a man go. The inspection was a bit physically demanding, requiring climbing silos/rickety stairs and was in a dirty manufacturing facility. But I’ve done similar visits to a half dozen manufacturing clients and being an outdoorsy/active woman had no problem with the conditions. My coworker that they sent in my place is afraid of heights and had a horrible time with the assignment.

    I feel like saying something to my local HR person. Something like “hey, I know that (mgr) said that a man would be better suited to do that site visit. But (coworker) had a horrible time and is afraid of heights while I would have been fine with it because (reasons). I don’t want to raise a big stink about it, but I think it was kind of silly for (mgr) to request a man when the particular man he got wasn’t as well equipped to do the job than the particular woman he could have had”

    What say you readers? Should I say something? Or just let it go? It really is the most inconsequential thing… but pisses me off on principle.

    1. Laura L

      At the individual level, this is consequential, but if a lot of people do this, it becomes very significant at the societal level. I definitely understand why it pisses you off! It would piss me off, too.

      Unfortunately, I don’t have any practical advice. I’d imagine it would depend on how receptive you think HR would be to hearing this, whether or not it will remain confidential if you want it to (it probably wouldn’t, just because it’s a very specific situation), if you think it might put your job at risk, etc.

      Anyway, that sucks! I’m sorry that happened to you.

      1. Laura L

        Oops, I meant it’s inconsequential on an individual. Relatively, anyway. The fact that your boss prefers a man may affect your career progress (it may not, but it happens).

        1. Sort of Anon Q

          And he’s not really my boss, he’s the boss over this particular client, which is primarily staffed out of his far away office… but since this plant is near us they had this particular (easy, routine, undesirable) task go to a staff person out of our office to save on travel.

          Hard to explain, but it is entirely possible I could work here for 20 years and never come across him again.

      2. Sort of Anon Q

        It wouldn’t put my job at risk and I don’t really care if the other manager (who works thousands of miles away and has such an unimportant impact on my employment that it’s practically zero) thinks I’m a whiny bitch. I more don’t want my local colleagues to think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill.

        1. Colette

          I can’t see where HR would get involved, but I would talk to my manager, as she would presumably be aware of requests like this and could push back with the other manager.

          1. Sort of Anon Q

            “HR” is in charge of staffing (with input from the management team). My “manager” changes depending on what client I’m on… so while I could talk to someone I feel comfortable with who’s at this dude’s level, they wouldn’t really have any authority/ability to pushback against scheduling stuff. Plus the HR person took the guy’s request to staff the assignment… so she would have more of an idea what is going on the some random manager not involved with the client.

    2. Katie the Fed

      In order to report it, you’d have to explain how you know, which could be uncomfortable for the person who told you that information. But yes, I would say something.

  47. RetailManager

    I am a retail field operations manager, so I go through resumes, interview, and hire people as sales associates. We have an online application, but am I too picky for wanting applicants to attach a resume as well? I find about 65% of those applying do, and it really makes me feel like they might be more invested in the position. And for resumes, I’m not looking for perfection, as many of my employees are college students or only have a high school diploma, but some of these resumes are crazy! I’ve had people list jury duty as experience, or claim ‘facebook’ or ‘google search’ as technical skills! I also run into the problem of people who have full time, non-retail jobs applying for my part-time postions. I wish these people would include a cover letter telling me why they want this job, because generally when I’ve done phone screening, they’ve applied in error with the thought that my store is the corporate office. What are your crazy resume stories?

    And any museum professionals out there? What are you looking for in museum operations? I’m taking courses in museum studies but would love some real world advice.

    1. some1

      I worked in retail for 5 years, and I never submitted a resume, just an application. I haven’t worked in retail in over a decade, but, yeah, I would have been put off at the idea of having to submit a resume for a retail position. The only time I ever saw resumes in retail was for management positions.

    2. TL

      I had a tiny resume, back when I applied for retail jobs (in person), but every store seemed to put an emphasis on the application; they always seemed surprised that I *had* a resume. If the applicants are young and have no/little prior experience, I wouldn’t hold it against them, especially if uploading the resume isn’t required.

      Actually…I’m not surprised that very young (high school/college age) people might put social media and Google search skills on their resumes. Not that I think it’s a great idea, but I’ve run into a sizable number of job ads that specifically call out “Internet skills”, “e-mail skills” (is this not demonstrated by sending an e-mail to apply, like the ad requests?), “skills with Facebook/list of every social media site known to man”, “Google search skills”, etc. Which baffles me, because these are ads posted on…the Internet. Asking for resumes by e-mail. And very, VERY few people have not used Google. I’m not sure how an applicant would address these points without looking silly.

      1. Jen in RO

        I thought these things were a given too… until I met a couple of people. Googling really is a foreign concept to some.

        1. Lynne

          And some people are much better at Googling than others, so maybe asking for “Google search skills” is an effort to find those people. I wouldn’t trust an applicant’s self-evaluation of their own search skills, though – in my experience, people who aren’t very good at it usually think they’re perfectly fine. Just being able to type some words into a Google search box doesn’t say anything about your ability to find relevant and reliable info quickly.

          But if it’s important to the job, then really the employer should devise a test of the applicant’s searching skills – it’s not like this is hard to test! – instead of relying on what the person’s resume says, because it’s quite common for people to think they’re better at this than they really are.

    3. littlemoose

      Jury duty as experience?! Hahaha! You might as well claim work experience from voting or filing your own taxes.

  48. Mari

    If someone has been charged with a felony, is the decision to keep/term the employee typically up to HR or the manager?

    1. Joey

      Ultimately, neither? If your manager wants to keep you and HR doesn’t you bet there will be some higher level discussions with both sides making their case.

    2. RG

      Charged is one thing, convicted is another. I could see suspending someone pending conviction, if the charge impacted the work the employee was doing.

      1. Mari

        My friend is charged with felonies relating to an incident where he may have been slipped a drug and then acted way out of character. He is his department’s top employee, has no prior records, and is not letting the case affect his work. His manager fully supports him but doesn’t think HR will let him keep his job if he is convicted. He would definitely be missed at work if he had to leave and the rest of us would really struggle without him.

        1. Not So NewReader

          He definitely needs to tell his attorney all this.
          His attorney will know how best to proceed.

          Under certian conditions (and states) cases can be sealed. This could mean that the employer never finds out what happened. Perhaps charges can be reduced to a lesser charge that would not even be a concern to the employer.

          You say “felonies” but try to keep in mind that often times numerous charges are set just to see what sticks and what doesn’t.
          If this is his first offense that will help.
          If he agrees to stay away from the people and places that might have triggered this whole episode that will help.
          He may have to agree to counseling.
          Really, his top concern right now is not about the job. His top concern right now is the probability of jail time.
          Sorry to sound harsh- but “felonies” are very serious stuff.

          Again- please make sure your friend tells the attorney the important details you mention here.

  49. Emma

    So, I’m unsure if I’m just being weird and unyielding or my manager is not comfortable with the “saying no” parts of being a supervisor. This is a long one, AAM’lings.

    I typically don’t ask to take sick time (in the “Can I…?”/”May I…?”) sense because, to me, it’s a statement of fact that if I have a doctor’s appointment booked (and we know how hard it is to get them in the first place and how saying “can I call you back about that slot?” quickly turns into “Oh, we filled that slot in the meantime.”), I am going to be taking that time off. Really, I’ve earned the sick time and it’s obviously important. Not saying that I no-show – I do give notice to my office when I’ll be out. With vacation time, I’m much less direct, saying something along the lines of “I plan to take X day(s) in [Month] as annual leave. Please let me know if this is kosher.”

    I had an incident recently where I went up to my supervisor with my leave slip and said “Hi, I’m taking X day as a sick day. Can you sign my slip?” where X day was two or three days later. In our office, where work is slow as molasses at the moment, I thought it was a reasonable amount of notice. My supervisor came back to me and said something to the effect of “Next time please phrase it as a request,” and she definitely said “because otherwise you put me in the awkward position of having to say ‘no’ if we need you here.”

    I admit that my phrasing was rude (I wasn’t feeling super chipper that day and just wanted to go to the doctor), but regardless of how I phrased it, would she not have been in such an awkward position ANYWAY if she had to tell me no? Whether or not I asked Mother May I with a cherry on top?

    It boils down to me fundamentally not believing I need to ASK to use my own sick time, because it makes me feel like a child, and as such I always phrase it as a statement. I’ve not had a problem with stating vs. asking like this in previous, adult part-time or full-time jobs.

    So the tl;dr I suppose is, do I need to just suck it up and ask because that’s the phrasing my manager is comfortable with (regardless of my own feelings of empowerment on the issue)? Or keep doing what I’m doing but perhaps be slightly more accomodating (Hi, I plan to take X as a sick day. If it interferes with business operations, let me know, otherwise I will be out on that day.)

    1. Malissa

      I like the more accommodating wording you provided. But then I’m not exactly a fan of actually asking for sick time off either. Mostly it’s because if I need the time, I need the time. It’s not exactly negotiable. But there are some bosses that like to be able to be accommodating and nice, so in your case I’d suck it up and just ask.

      1. Jamie

        I was told by a boss to tell not ask. When I was new I’d ask for permission and he basically instructed me in that the way I was asking was too subservient (way too much DA marathon, as if, sorry!)

        Now I just inform and ask them to let me know if its a problem.

        That way you ask sets a tone – but I would definitely stay away for rude or curt.

      2. Ellie H.

        I have a *coworker* who asks *me* for permission to be out, including if it’s OK that she plans to go to lunch at a certain time. Like she literally says “Is it OK if I go to the gym at lunch?” and the like. I’m not her supervisor (and she makes more money than I do, but for a variety of reasons, feels that I’m higher up than she is). This drives me crazy and makes me feel weird and guilty. I always tell don’t ask and it makes me feel a bit guilty for just announcing when I’ll be out, even though that has been the common practice. (She has sick leave, benefits etc. and I don’t, I’m hourly, which makes this even crazier.)

          1. Ellie H.

            It’s not the kind of thing where it really needs covering. There are three of us and one of us sort of has to be in at any given time or the whole front area of the office is empty, which is undesirable, but that still doesn’t constitute the need to ask for permission, just saying “I’ll be out at such and such a time” so that others can plan around it. People very rarely come to see her and if she’s out, I just say “She’s out” and maybe they leave something on her desk or come back later or email her. She is also always telling me where to find stuff in her desk or on her computer (!) “just in case” when there is almost never any case in which I need something that I can’t find myself, and also always says “In case I get hit by a bus” which I honestly find disturbing (it’s not quite funny enough the way she says it). It probably drives her crazy that I keep all my own files not on the shared drive.
            If anything, I should ask HER for permission when I leave because I sit at the reception desk of the office.
            She also drives me crazy in many other ways, so this thing seems particularly crazy-making in the full context and probably sounds more rationalize-able out of context.

          2. Ellie H.

            Sorry, the short version of that crazy rant was that yes, I don’t mind knowing when she’s out, but I would infinitely prefer her to say “I’m going to be out at x a time, let me know if there’s any issue” (which is what I say to her and my other front-office coworker) than ask me for permission, because I am so far from being her supervisor and it makes me feel weird and guilty that she thinks she has to ask for permission from me.

            1. Elizabeth West

              Ah, okay.

              The only other thing I can think of is that she’s used to asking for permission–that can get to be a habit after a while if you go from a micromanager to one that doesn’t give a rat’s patootie. My new boss has to remind me sometimes that she doesn’t care HOW I do stuff, just that I do it. (WHICH I LOVE BY THE WAY)

    2. KayDay

      My strategy is to ask when it’s really a question (e.g. vacation, or an appointment far in advance) and to tell when it’s not. I think your exact phrasing may have been a little bit… off-putting? (I probably would have said, “I have an appointment the morning of X, is that okay?”)

      But honestly, she’s your manager. If it’s a problem, she should say so, regardless of your phrasing. How you phrase things should have no impact on her ability to manage. And also, since you have “leave slips” for sick leave, doesn’t bringing the leave slip to her imply that you are seeking permission?? (We only use leave slips for vaca, not sick leave).

      1. Anonymous

        This is what I do. I mean, if I’m sick, I need to take a sick day, there’s no way around it — but I still phrase it nicely like “I am not feeling well and taking today as a sick day, I’ll check email occasionally if you need anything.” But when it’s something planned in advance, I ask for it to be approved, i.e. “I would like to take next Friday as PTO for an appointment/vacation/whatever, is that alright?/please let me know if this isn’t alright.”

        I get not wanting to say something like “Can I please have Monday off for an appointment?” but there’s lots of places in between that and “I’m taking tomorrow off, sign this.”

    3. Sereba

      My guess is that her real issue was likely with your tone (I’m assuming you were more than a bit curt, since you said you weren’t feeling chipper and self-described the statement as “rude”?) and didn’t know how to indicate that. And to a certain extent, I can understand the feeling of entitlement to your own earned sick/leave time — though plenty of people would argue that it’s still a privilege (rather than a right) a that’s ultimately up to your employer (and legally, that’s what it is for sure).

      When it comes down to it, though, I think you should pick your battles. How often are you actually going to doctor’s appointments? If it’s an average amount, then is it really worth it to make the request vs statement vs stated request issue a point of contention between you and your manager? I would assume you otherwise have a good relationship, so you wouldn’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill (since now she’d see it as blatantly ignoring something she specifically asked for and would potentially take it as hostility)

      And if you ARE going to appointments more than average, you need all the goodwill you can muster from your manager, since she’s much more likely to be accommodating/understanding if you demonstrably recognize that it can be an imposition to be out regularly, even if only for a few hours at a time.

    4. Anon2

      The way I see it, if it’s a doctor’s appointment, I always make the appointment but run it past my supervisor to make sure that I’m not needed in the office at that time. You can always reschedule a doctor’s appointment if needed. You don’t need to ask to use it when you are actually sick, since that can’t be rescheduled. But it’s absolutely reasonable, especially if you are booking it in advance, to run it past your supervisor in this way: “I’ve made an appointment for a doctor’s appointment on X day. I’ll need to be out all day for it. Is that ok with the schedule, or do I need to reschedule it?” Your sick and vacation leave are your own, but it is up to your supervisor to work with you to have the best coverage in the office. I’ve rescheduled doctor appointments because they didn’t work with the office schedule.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Yep. I’m a supervisor and this is how I prefer to be notified.

        “I have a medical appointment scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. Are there any issues with that?”

        Because it might be that I was about to ask you to go to a meeting that day and I might respond “actually, Tuesday is a little tight here, is there a different day next week you could do it?” At least, in theory. But the reality is that I’ve never denied a leave request. But I do have that option.

        By checking to make sure it works with the schedule, you’re showing respect for the job and the team.

        1. Emma

          Thank you, everyone. I was getting stuck in the weeds over the stating vs. asking vs. stated request. Like a few others, I had been advised early on not to ask but tell because asking can be seen as subservient. I’ll adopt a more moderate tone, for sure, and perhaps pre-empt verbal requests with e-mail so I can ensure the tone is cordial regardless of how I’m actually feeling.

          1. Lore

            If your doctors are particularly difficult to schedule, you could also try, “I need to make a medical appointment; are there are any days in the next week/month/interval where you think it would be a problem?” And then you’ll know to try to avoid any obstacles before you confirm the hard-to-reschedule appointment. (Of course, if it’s something that needs to be done six months in advance, that won’t entirely be practical.)

            1. Elizabeth West

              Ooh thanks, I was wondering about that while reading these answers. That’s good phrasing. My doctor can be a bit difficult to get in to see. They did squeeze me in today, but that’s because I had gotten hurt. Regular appointments are a real bear and I wasn’t sure how to ask.

    5. doreen

      I would never ask someone to phrase it as a request because it would be awkward to say “no”. I have no problem saying “no” if I need to. What I have had a problem with is people who are astonished when I do say “no” because on some level they believe that I am required to approve their leave because they informed me, regardless of the effect it has on operations. It’s happened to me too many times, for everything from doctor’s appointments to two week vacations I was informed of two days before the beginning of the planned leave . I therefore tend to remind people that unless they are calling in sick because they are too sick to work that day, it is a request, it can be disapproved and that it’s not a good idea to book non-refundable hotels and flights before the leave has been approved. I wonder if your manager has a similar reason, but doesn’t want to be that direct.

      1. Lindsay

        Yes. At my last job we had specific days classified as “blackout days” which were essentially days that we needed to have all hands on deck. If you really needed off for one of these days, you needed to find someone to agree to work a double for you (shift work). These days were explained to you when you were hired, listed on all our operating calenders, and were listed on the bottom of the time off request paperwork.

        So many people got upset when they put in a time off request for one of those days and I did not approve it and explained why. Just because you request a day off does not mean that you will automatically get it (and like I said, if you really needed that day because you were going out of town or whatever you could get it off you just needed to get someone to agree to work a double in your stead).

        On the other hand, I used to hate my one job that would grant me time off for doctor’s appointments and then on that day call and try to guilt trip me to come in. Yeah, I’m sorry that one of your notoriously unreliable people no-showed again. I still have my doctor’s appointment. Maybe if you begin actually attaching consequences to attendance issues you’ll wind up with a staff of people who show up for their shifts.

  50. Jess

    Anyone have any suggestions for NYC temp agencies? I have a little bit of admin/office type experience but most of my experience is in customer service (waiting tables, retail, etc) and I really want to get into more professional work. I think the best way to go may be temping but I’m not sure where to start on that. Advice/thoughts/suggestions? Thanks. :)

    1. Kara

      I got pretty consistent work from Clarity when I needed it. Website is claritystaffing.com. The key to temping is availability – I would call first thing in the morning and say, basically, “I’ll do it. I don’t care what or where ‘it’ is.” And as always, work begets work, so as I developed a reputation as someone who showed up on time and got shit done, they started calling me first. Good luck!

    2. Sydney Bristow

      I temped through Career Group for awhile. Dress nicely when you go in to interview (I wore a suit, but even slacks or skirt and a nice top would have been better than many of the people I saw waiting to interview). Also, they’ll want you to do a little testing on Microsoft Office, so its worth poking around on the programs a bit if you don’t use them regularly now.

      I totally agree with Kara too that the key is availability. Career Group loved that I was willing to be “on call” for last minute assignments.

  51. KayDay

    Any advice for how to deal with (B-to-B) telemarketers at work? In particular, when you aren’t sure if they are a legit company or a scam?

    I keep getting calls from someone claiming to be with our phone company (it’s a big national company, I’ll call it “F-tel” for now). The one time I asked for a call back number, I googled it and it seems that it’s another company that is mis-representing them selves as F-tel. They keep saying that they are sending us a new quote for a lower bill. They even sent a fax after I specifically asked them not to, that had F-tel’s logo on it. I’m assuming it’s a scam, since if it really was F-tel, why wouldn’t they just add the discount to our monthly bill? When I try to tell them know, they get indignant and ask why I don’t want to save money. I’m also scared that one day they are going to call and out of frustration I’ll tell them to F-off and I will end up accidentally cancelling our phone service!

        1. some1

          Then I would ask to be removed from their list the next time they call. I agree that this isn’t really your phone company.

    1. Ann O'Nemity

      We had a similar problem with an alleged supply company. Their initial sales pitches were very misleading, as they were misrepresenting that we’d done business with them in the past. According to our internal records, we’d never ordered from them. We just kept asking to be taken off their list, over and over and over again.

    2. K

      Do you or the person responsible for dealing with the phone company have a contact person? If you can call that contact person and make sure your company isn’t trying to contact you (and ask them to stop the shady calls if they are), you can then tell these people to F off with impunity.

      1. KayDay

        I tried to tell the real F-tel about it. It’s a huge national company, and when I called to report the fraudulent call, “yeah, that happens sometimes.” The last time the suspected fake F-tel called, they had an unnerving amount of information about our most recent bill =\. I’ll keep being more forceful and say specifically to “take us off your list”. It’s really annoying.

        Any thoughts on whether or not calling them out on it and saying “I know you aren’t who you say you are” would do more harm than good?

    3. Not So NewReader

      Can you call the provider yourself and ask how to tell the phonies from the real provider?

      OR

      My fav: “Send me something in writing. I will review it and get back to you if I am interested. Good-bye.”

  52. RJ

    My boss, with whom I have a warm professional relationship, is getting married in 2 weeks. It will be a small family ceremony, so I’m not attending. While I know the prohibition on “gifting up”, I think there’s an exception for events like weddings and babies. I want to get her a wedding gift. So 1) That is ok, right?

    If so, then we move on to question 2. She has a traditional registry, but with a small wedding, and an already established household, ALL of the handful of listed gifts are already fulfilled. She also has a honeymoon registry. So 2) Is it weird or inappropriate to give hersomething like an “$80 night out on the town” when she makes about 3x my salary?

    I sort of feel like that’s the equivalent of writing her a check, which I probably wouldn’t do based on our work relationship. I guess I could go off-registry and find a traditional gift anyway as another option.

    Thoughts? :)

    1. RetailManager

      1. Totally normal!
      2. If you are giving her a gift certificate to a restaurant she likes, or has shown interest in, your gift is thoughtful and useful, not boring.

    2. Jamie

      For wedding and babies I think it’s a lovely gesture – not mandatory but lovely.

      $80 way too much IMO and would make many uncomfortable. A pretty picture frame or album is great – Macy’s housewares often has them on clearance so you can get something really pretty for under $20.

      I’d keep it under $25 for sure. It’s a gesture, not helping them outfit their household which is what the registry is for,

      1. Rana

        +1 Picture frames – nice but neutral ones – are my go-to all-purpose wedding gift when I don’t know the recipient that well but want to give something.

    3. KayDay

      While I’m normally all for honeymoon registries and cash gifts for wedding, I don’t think it’s appropriate to give money up. You can definitely give her a card. Maybe something small–like a picture frame, or some fun but in expensive kitchen gadget–but I’m less sure about that.

    4. Kate

      I think a present is more appropriate for a coworker than a gift certificate or honeymoon registry contribution since it doesn’t immediately reveal how much you spent. I’d suggest looking at her registry, seeing what she received, and thinking about what accessories might go with those things. America’s Test Kitchen does a great cookbook for two.

    5. K

      I think gifts for co-workers at or above your level are less awkward when they’re a group gift. Are there any co-workers who are also giving who you could go in with? That way it’s not quite as clear how much everyone spent.

    6. Katie the Fed

      I would feel very awkward if one of my subordinates gave me a wedding gift, especially if they weren’t invited to my wedding.

      At most give her a card. If you really feel the need to give a gift, get the team together to do one.

    7. Ash

      My go-to gift for wedding is awesome: I know a person who owns a local art glass place. I take the couple’s wedding invitation to her, and have her create a custom frame for it. She matches the color of the glass and soldering to the invitation, and also any little decorations that might be on it. For example, I have a friend who had golden-colored invitation with a ribbon on it. The artist picked a beautiful brown, frost-patterned glass for the border, and used brass ribbons in the corners, and did a decorative, brass-colored solder border on the outside. She also builds in a little U-shaped hanging bit on the back. It costs me about $30 and she makes an amazing, thoughtful, and unique gift for me each time. There are a hit every time I give them too.

      I almost wanted to keep one though. My friend’s invite was white with shiny silver font, so the artist used this stunningly-beautiful silver, patterned glass. It looked like someone had crumpled up a mirror and then tried to smooth it out. It was so cool and my friend freaked out when she saw it, she loved it that much.

    8. RJ

      Thanks for the comments and advice. I think going off-registry for a small but thoughtful gift will work. :-)

  53. WorkIt

    When I am rejected from a job, I have been known to look up the successful candidate on LinkedIn or wherever to scope them out. Am I alone in this?

      1. Jen in RO

        You can disable that, but you won’t be able to see who checked out *your* profile either.

  54. Jubilance

    I’ve got a resume question:

    I started in my current position about 6 months ago & I’m feeling like it’s time to add it to my resume. However, I haven’t accomplished a lot yet since I’ve only been here 6 months, and most of that time has been spent getting up to speed on a totally new industry & role, building relationships, digging into the data to get an understanding, etc. I’ve completed a few small projects, but nothing on the order of the accomplishments for my previous roles which are all on resume. For clarification, its things like successfully managing a year-long project & bringing it to a close on-time & under budget; hiring & training technicians; stuff like that.

    I did recently have my performance review (which went well) but a large part of it was simply on-boarding type stuff. How do I translate what I have done so far, which is a lot of “soft” stuff to my resume?

    1. Joey

      You don’t. When I look at a résumé Im going to assume the job involved getting up to speed early on. Stating it sounds like unnecessary filler.

    2. Malissa

      I would put it on there for now with a framework of the responsibilities. You can always replace those with accomplishments later. It’s not you are using this resume for job searching in the near future, right?

      1. Jubilance

        I’m not, but I have had instances where people have asked for my resume even when I wasn’t looking. I’m trying to keep it as up to date as possible, and I figure 6 months in the new position is long enough to include it on my resume.

  55. Reeya

    Whoa, so many comments! If anyone is still reading, I have a nitpicky resume formatting question. On my resume, I have my job title listed first, then my company name, as follows:

    Chocolate Teapot Manager, September 2007 – November 2012
    Chocolate Teapots R Us, Anytown, NY

    I seem to come across a lot of resumes that are formatted doing the opposite, like so:

    Chocolate Teapots R Us, September 2007 – November 2012
    Chocolate Teapot Manager

    And I’m wondering if I shouldn’t flip it to list the company name first as well. Is this a standard that I’ve only now just become aware of? Thoughts welcome. Thanks!

    1. Jamie

      I think I have title – hyphen – company name same line. Maybe it’s the reverse…but when I’ve read resumes it wouldn’t matter to me. Maybe others more nitpicky than I (ha) have better advice.

      1. Reeya

        My thinking thus far has always been that I want my job title to be the focus, which is why I would put it first. However, I’m running into a quandry because I’m trying to keep my resume from going over 2 pages. Two jobs were at the same company – I started as a temp, and then the job changed to perm. I used to list them as two distinct sections, but now in order to tighten things up I want to combine them. If I switch to listing the company name first, I can just list the two job titles underneath it pretty elegantly, kinda like this:

        Chocolate Teapots R Us, September 2007 – November 2012
        Chocolate Teapot Manager, October 2008 – November 2012
        Chocolate Teapot Temp, September 2007 – October 2008

        But if I stick to my earlier formatting, I don’t know how to combine the two positions elegantly. Sigh.

    2. Anonymous

      I think people flip it for reasons like the one mentioned above – Teapots Temp Agency, 2000-2013
      * Job
      * Job
      * Job

      But if you only held one job at a given company, then it doesn’t really matter IMO.

      1. KayDay

        Yeah, that’s how I feel. In theory, I like the title on top. However, since I had two positions at one job, it makes sens to put employer on top.

  56. Shuvon

    Hello, all. I have a group interview question. I’ll be on the conducting side.

    Our company is currently hiring, and our manager would like to bring in a candidate next week to meet the team for their second interview. We’ll be conducting a group interview/chat with this person.

    What are some questions we can ask to determine fit? Any advice on how to run this smoothly?

    1. Julie

      I remember AAM covering this kind of question before. I don’t remember exactly when it was, but I think you could search the site for “interview questions” and probably come up with some helpful information. Also, check out the “Free guide to preparing for an interview” – it’s on the AAM main page. Also on the main page, under the Categories section, you can click on “interviewing.” I hope this is helpful.

  57. Long time reader, first time poster

    So, I had the “non-interview” from hell yesterday. On Tues, I applied for an “office assistant” position at an “ad firm” through my alma mater’s website. An HR screener e-mailed me the following day, offering me the choice of almost 2 dozen (!) interview slots in the next few days. I choose one for the following day. I was told to print and fill out a paper application, and bring it along to my interview – seemed weird for a company that specializes in “online ad sales,” but whatever. (and they asked for references too upfront, which I hate) Also, the screener referred to the position as an “sales associate,” which I thought was strange, but brushed it off as maybe a mistake, or the job had two different titles – the position description sounded a little sales-y, but didn’t require sales experience.

    Yesterday afternoon, I came to the office before the appointed meeting time, and had to sign a non-disclosure agreement before being allowed to meet the HR manager. (again, seemed weird, but whatever, beggars can’t be choosers right?) Called into her office, manager seems friendly at first. She looks at my materials (resume, application, NDA), and asks me why I want this job. Admittedly I got a little tongue-tied (one of my biggest interview weaknesses) but tried to explain about seeing the job on my alma mater’s website, that I thought it would be a good fit. She muttered under her breath that she thought she had deleted that listing (it’s still up there, by the way) and that the only positions available where sales associates, which was a completely different position. I asked if I could compare the position descriptions and apply to the sales one, she said no because my resume “had no sales experience” (despite the fact I have lots of experience doing political calling, which isn’t *that* different) She also accused me of trying to pull a fast one on her, that I was a liar, and I should have followed up with her assistant and pointed out her mistakes. (um no, I’m not her screener’s boss)

    Needless to say, the experience left me completely shaken up and angry for hours, not to mention reinforcing the “awful hr stereotype” in my mind (I’ve been doing post-grad searching for a few months, and I’m already beyond frustrated, I can’t even get an volunteer administrative assistant job) Yes, I know – why would one want to work for a company so disorganized/with rude employees? Plus, on glassdoor, I read an interview review of an applicant that they tried to hire to do high-level accounting work for $10/hr. Yep, great company indeed.

    1. some1

      “I was told to print and fill out a paper application, and bring it along to my interview – seemed weird for a company that specializes in “online ad sales,” but whatever.”

      This really isn’t all that unusual.

      “Also, the screener referred to the position as an “sales associate,” which I thought was strange, but brushed it off as maybe a mistake, or the job had two different titles – the position description sounded a little sales-y, but didn’t require sales experience.”

      At this point, you should have clarified. Sales Assistant and Office Assistant are very different.

      “Yesterday afternoon, I came to the office before the appointed meeting time, and had to sign a non-disclosure agreement before being allowed to meet the HR manager.”

      Ok, that’s wierd.

      “I asked if I could compare the position descriptions and apply to the sales one, she said no because my resume “had no sales experience” (despite the fact I have lots of experience doing political calling, which isn’t *that* different)”

      Actually it is really different. It’s a totally different mindset involved whether I decide to give my personal money to a candidate, than spend my company’s money at Dell or Apple. And she is allowed to have specific experience in mind.

      “She also accused me of trying to pull a fast one on her, that I was a liar, and I should have followed up with her assistant and pointed out her mistakes. (um no, I’m not her screener’s boss)”

      The first two point were really rude, but I think she is right that you should have pointed out that you weren’t applying for the Sales job to the screener. Presumably her boss wasn’t on the phone call, so how else was the screener supposed to know unless you told her? You will run into many, many work situations where you will need to correct colleagues so mistakes aren’t made &/or time & money are not wasted, whether you supervise them or not.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Hmmm, I don’t think we can blame the commenter for not asking. Job hunting is stressful, there are power dynamics, and correcting a prospective employer is not the same as correcting a colleague! It sounds like this interviewer was awful (accusing her of lying!) so I’m not at all surprised that this was an organization that didn’t make it feel safe/easy for her to ask about the position title (although I agree that would have been ideal).

        1. some1

          But Long Time Reader said she had no rudeness issues with the Phone Screener, so why would she have “not felt comfortable” about saying, “I’m sorry, but is the Sales Assistant position the same as ‘Office Assistant’ position on the ABC College Alumni website? That’s what I’d like to apply to.” The interviewer, who she talked to a day later was the rude one.

          1. Anonymous

            Well, when I apply for a job, I assume the calls I get are related to that job. It’s easy to get it go in the moment and only later realize that you should’ve clarified.

        2. Long time reader, first time poster

          Thank you Allison.

          I came across the listing that she was referring to on LinkedIn, which was posted 2 days ago. I cross-referenced it with the one from the school website (which has been open since last month, with a closing date towards the end of June)

          The job titles are different (office assistant vs. sales associate), but the position descriptions are EXACTLY THE SAME. So, either they are trying to bait and switch, or goofed and tried to pass the blame on me (which I feel the interviewer was trying to do) Plus, the descriptions were very vague – to me, a “great phone demeanor” and “sales savvy a plus” do not translate into something like “x years of sales experience with a proven track record to generating leads and closing on sales of chocolate teapots”

          Oh well, who would want to work there anyway?

      2. Long time reader, first time poster

        Actually, you’re wrong – political calls and sales calls are similar, it’s just the product that’s different. I wasn’t soliciting for donations (that’s fundraising, which is also completely different that cold sales calls) I was “phone-banking” for various candidates/causes, which might be more difficult because most people don’t care about making a decision about who they vote for and actually going out and voting for them because they don’t perceive getting a tangible return on that type of action. (which definitely isn’t true, who represents you does effect you, but that’s more of an voter ideology question which is way off topic for this blog)

        1. The gold digger

          Oh man. The phone bank. I have made political calls last fall when my husband was running for office and I have been in sales and I would take sales over political calls any day.

          I just rolled my eyes at the Parks and Recreation episode where they did a phone bank fundraiser for Leslie and raised a couple thousand dollars in ONE NIGHT for AN UNKNOWN CANDIDATE for CITY COUNCIL. Obviously, none of the writers have ever worked on a campaign.

    2. perrik

      Did you post an interview review on Glassdoor? This is the sort of thing I’d want to know when researching a company. The rude interviewer could be an anomaly (either she was having a rotten day and taking it out on you – which was unprofessional – or is just that sort of person), but the NDA was just a bit weird. I’d expect that if I were doing a second interview for a higher-level position where more strategic stuff would be discussed, but for a first interview at a non-strategic position, that’s odd.

      Frankly, in your position I would be annoyed enough to contact my alma mater’s career center to tell them that (1) the position is apparently closed and (2) the hiring manager was thoroughly unpleasant about it.

      The paper application might seem weird, but it’s not. It’s a handy signed record of what you claim as your experience and education. Makes it easy to fire someone who lied about her credentials. “On your signed job application you claimed to have a master’s in chocolate tempering from Teapot University. We have just learned that you only attended Teapot U for one semester before dropping out, and never completed an MBA from anywhere. You are terminated for falsifying your application, effective immediately.”

      1. Long time reader, first time poster

        Honestly, the NDA seemed weird, but it sounded like they did a lot of testing-on-the-spot in interviews (which the screener also failed to mention) See my reply to Allison – they really screwed up on this in the end.

  58. Jane Doe

    Early next week, I have an interview at a college located about an hour away from me. My car is an old beater that isn’t up for making the trip, and so my boyfriend offered to drive me. I’m leaning towards renting a car because I’m not sure how this would be perceived – the college is very conservative, I definitely don’t want to bring up car troubles because I would be making an hour long commute if I got the job, and I’m not not sure it comes across as professional. However, if I can save myself some much needed $$ by getting a ride, I’d like to do that. What do you guys think?

    1. Malissa

      I don’t think they’d know if it was your boyfriend, brother or cousin that drove you. They may not even know that you got a ride. But what will you do if you get this job?

      1. Jane Doe

        I think I’m mostly worried about looking unprofessional. If I got the job, I will definitely need to get a more reliable used car, which I’ve already thought about. I’m just not sure what to do in this situation about getting to the interview.

        1. some1

          I would not worry about it too much. Just make sure you don’t give your BF a huge smooch when he drops you off, and make sure your BF has somewhere to go (library, cafe) while you interview so it doesn’t seem like he’s lurking around. He should not go into the interview or interview waiting area with you.

        2. COT

          Can you drive your boyfriend’s car yourself? Or could your boyfriend drop you off a block away?

          I just can’t imagine that people will really notice whether or not someone else drove you, but that might depend on the parking lot layout, front desk placement, etc.

        3. Colette

          As long as they don’t see him- I.e. he drops you off and goes for coffee or something – it shouldn’t be a problem.

    2. Anonymous

      It’s actually lucky for you that it’s a college! It’s almost guaranteed to have public parking and a coffee shop on campus for your boyfriend to go to after dropping you off near the where you’re interviewing.

    3. danr

      Take the offer of the ride. Find out where the library is or another place to hang out and split up there. Or he drops you off and you call him when the interview is over. No one needs to know the details of how you got there.
      If the college is conservative, your boy friend might want to dress on the good casual side so he fits in with the general folks on campus.
      Good luck in the interview.

  59. Jaclyn

    Throwing it out to the group – should a good manager generally work at least as many hours as their team does?

    So, I’ve always felt that it’s an implicit rule of being a good manager in a professional setting that – in general – you work as much or more than your team does. That’s what I’ve seen modeled by members of my family who manage others, what I’ve done when I had a team of student employees back in college, and what my managers to date have done. If there’s a big project that your team is working late on, you stay late too and pitch in where you can, or at least work on removing other projects/road blocks from your team so that they can focus on this project.

    My current manager is great in all regards *except* for this issue. He regularly comes in at 9 and leaves at 4:30 or 5 on the dot, while I and other members of my group are regularly working 10 hour days to get all our shit done. He doesn’t have a blackberry or laptop to take home, and from chats with him I know that when he’s out of the office he mentally checks out of work.

    Honestly, there’s not a lot of my work that could easily be passed back up to him – but it’s just really demoralizing to have him breeze out of the office at five when I know I’m going to be there for two or three more hours trying to get things out the door. I’m not really sure how to bring this up though – I feel like “I don’t think you work enough” probably wouldn’t go down all that well, even though we have a great working relationship otherwise.

    1. Jamie

      A manager can have a different or more flexible schedule, so not being in the office same hours doesn’t always equal working less…but in your case? I’d have issues and I wouldn’t be able to set that tone as a manager. I’m always willing to work longer/harder than I would expect from anyone else.

      But, huge but, often managers are working from home and offsite and for most out of the office doesn’t mean the office is out of mind.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      It’s also true that the more valuable your skill set, the more you can get away with working, for instance, family-friendly hours. Sometimes that’s a perk of a higher-level position, if you can negotiate it. (Of course, many other times, higher-level positions mean that you’re constantly on-call and working. It just depends.)

    3. Katie the Fed

      Hmm. It sounds like the issue is more that you have too much work to do and not the hours your manager is working. This is something you need to discuss with him – does he realize how much you’re doing or how many hours you’re working?

      I used to have a manager who left several hours before me every day because I was doing a lot of his work, and he really didn’t realize how much I was doing. He commented once that I seemed tired and should put in fewer hours and I responded with something snarky like “you realize the magical work fairies don’t come in at night to get this done, right? It’s me.” I don’t recommend that approach.

      But there’s not necessary a need for him to be there if you’re in late to finish a rare project. I have employees who have to stay late sometimes to put something to bed, but there is literally nothing I could do to help at that point and I would only get in the way, so I’ll stay a while and ask if they need anything else and then leave. There’s no point in staying if I’m not any value added.

    4. JR

      I don’t know know that I agree with this philosophy. Managers have a different job than you- managing. As you said, not a lot of your work could easily be passed up to him. He probably needs to hire more employees to help lighten your workload, rather than stay late. That would be the sensible solution.

    5. glennis

      I had a manager who would arrive at work sometime between 11 am and 1 pm, and would then work alone in the office sometimes until 9 or 10 pm – our office operated from 8:30 am – 5 pm.

      She would usually call in around 10 am, and chat separately with each employee (“Is L in? Can you transfer me to him?”) and then promise to be in “in about a half hour” and then really show up about 2 hours later. Then sometimes she’d go right into her office and close the door.

      We’d get strings of emailed instructions in our Inboxes the following morning, and if we had any questions or needed additional info, we’d have to wait hours before being able to actually talk with her. I began to wonder if she was a vampire or something.

  60. Sabrina

    Any advice for career changers? Or really starting a career when before you only had jobs? I finish school at the end of the summer (hopefully) after going back to finish my bachelor’s degree. I have ~15 years working experience, but most of it was in support (admin asst/data entry/customer service) roles and my major is in eMarketing. I’ve never worked in any kind of marketing department, company, anything. So I’m really not sure how to ‘fix’ my resume to show I’m qualified outside of having a degree. I’ve considered volunteering to prepare, but I really do not have time between work and school and I can’t afford to intern now or after I graduate.

    1. Maria

      Career changer here. I fought working unpaid…for a year and half, finally bit the bullet and did it, and it worked. Still not the dream position, but good enough for now after a long search. It is tough to transition right now with a few years of experience and/or connections. If you really can’t intern (maybe even for credit while you’re still in school?) try to find networking groups and meet people in the industry you want to work in. I’ve learned who you know really goes a long way when you’re job searching.

  61. The Dowager Crawley

    Not sure why I’m going anon for this, except its not hypothetical but something that’s really been bothering me and I don’t know if it should or I’m just being pissy.

    Part of my job involves troubleshooting user issues and I require email from the user with basic, cogent, information on the problem. I.e. a file is broken is bad. I tried to open a file and got this error message (screen shot attached) is excellent. So not requiring highly tech info – basic emails.

    My boss has a problem with people doing drive bys with me and not following procedure – because he sees that I can’t manage my time properly if I’m interrupted.

    The boss has said there should be no exceptions, and I’m supposed to push back…but for be person. It’s unspoken but there is one employee who is lowed to derail me whenever/wherever. Even when the owners have to follow the rules. This person has a high position in the engineering department, but is not over me nor does he outrank me, and English isn’t his first language. I’ve never received an Emil from him more than a couple of words. I doubt he had the ability to communicate in write form in English beyond the most rudimentary – but it’s a dont ask/don’t tell thing.

    Ownership thinks very highly of him. One of the owners joked more than once if the company was on fire they would save him and me and then they could start anywhere.

    I guess what bothers me is that someone is firmly ensconced in management without the ability to send emails, read policies, follow written procedures. He gets by because he’s brilliant and gets things once explained verbally and he’s VERY good at a niche engineering skill. He also speaks the native language of most of engineering who aren’t all bilingual.

    It bothers me that this is some unspoken thing, I have to give him policy to approve when I know who will really be doing it. He has carte balance to interrupt me whenever he thinks of something instead of emailing like everyone else. He’s followed me not the ladies room because he “remembers” something he needs when he sees me (I put a stop to that).

    I was going to write to Alison but its just whining since I know the culture and nothing will change. I just bothers me – its an inconvenience for more than me, why not just call it like it is and hire a an assistant for him to answer his email instead of making everyone else compensate.

    FYI this is not a racial thing – I have no problem with immigrants. My father was one and my mothers family came over on the Mayflower…I run the gambit of the American experience within my genetic memory.

    It’s about my being pissy about favoritism and some people being excepted from the rules and it the elephant in the room being offli,its as a topic. You can’t fix what you can’t address.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      What would management do if you refused to play along, saying that you weren’t willing to continue to have your work interrupted unnecessarily, that it’s become a quality of life issue for you, and that you’re going to tell him to stop? I wouldn’t suggest that except that you said they value you as highly as they do him (or at least would save you both first), so I suspect you have some capital to spend pushing back on this, if you decide you want to use it that way.

      1. The Dowager Crawley

        Funny, I have pushed back and he goes directly to our boss (we both report to one of the owners) and he will drop by and tell me he knows I’m busy but could I take are of X because we know how he can be – small laugh.

        The other owner tells me to hold my own and not to cater to him…but she’s not involved in the department stuff and on occasions it’s urgent I won’t hold up work to make a point. When its not urgent, I do but I know I’m making more work for other people including my boss and frankly – I think we’re the last two people he needs being pissy with each other. To be fair as often as he’s come to me to out X at the front of the line he’s just as often told X that I was busy and he’d have to wait.

        And tbh I’m not going t quit over it, it’s an eyerolling when no one is looking problem, not a throw down the phone and credit card and quit with a a scathing speech problem. I just don’t understand why it’s better to pretend we don’t know why this is happening the to address it with either assigning help or classes or whatever.

        Part of it is just petty whining when I don’t understand how you can be so successful in every way that would matter to me professionally without the ability to write a simple email. I know, life isn’t fair.

        1. COT

          It sounds like neither you nor your boss is being consistent with this guy. Maybe it would help if you were both on the same page and enforced your boundaries 100% of the time.

          Alternately, could you give him a limited window of time each day in which he could come to you in person? Say, he needs to wait until 2-3 pm to ask you a question if he’s not going to follow procedure. If it’s a true emergency at another time he can go straight to your boss and your boss can determine whether or not it’s actually urgent.

          1. The Dowager Crawley

            Totally true, consistancy has been an issue for me because sometimes I have the time and do it, sometimes its the path of least resistance and I do it and resent it…sometimes I enforce policy. Totally right.

            I think it’s one of those things where personal resentment takes hold and the answer is simple, but I still resent it even being necessary. I think I’ve just been crabby lately and tbh I’m probably kind of jealous. I’ve done well for myself, I think anyway, but I also have a technical job but my communication skills are necessary and not optional. So like a little kid I want to know why the teacher is being unfair and making me do things that X doesn’t have to do! I’m just being petulant – and sometimes jealous of what seems like an easier path to the same end….but I wouldn’t trade lots with him so I should remember that.

            1. Rana

              Yeah, this may be a mindset problem, rather than a behavioral problem. Either stand firm in defense of your own boundaries, or cultivate an attitude of “this is how it is”. Expecting him to change just because isn’t going to work – as you’ve already seen – so thing only things you can change are your own behaviors and your own attitude.

              And, yes, I know how hard and sucky that can be.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Since it seems like nothing else works can you tell him something like: “Stop back at 3pm. Your emailing lessons begin today at 3pm sharp.”
      And, uh, you’re not teaching him to email. You’re actually teaching him how to write a full sentence in English. It sounds like he can’t compose a written sentence at all- or thinks he can’t. English is a terrible language to have to learn. Take examples from your current day. “Remember at 10 AM you asked me x, y, z? Well here is how to phrase that ….”

  62. Katie the Fed

    I’ll throw this one out.

    I love being a manager. I love my team. They’re all so dedicated and hardworking.

    Being a federal employee is hard right now though. We’re going to get furloughed this year if congress doesn’t start doing its job, we haven’t had cost-of-living raises in three years, and other routine things like step increases and travel have been delayed or cut. Basically, it’s no fun right now to be a federal employee.

    What are some fun/nice things I can do for/with my team to keep morale up as we get into furloughs. I’m trying to let them schedule their furlough days flexibly so they get 3-day weekends. What else can I do? What are good morale-building things that don’t cost money or seem like mandatory fun? I could probably afford a paintballing outing on a weekend, and everyone seems interested.

    What else? Give me some ideas here.

      1. Katie the Fed

        We’ve been talking about picketing with signs that say “Will support the security of the United States for food”

    1. Colette

      When I worked for a bug high tech company with money issues, one if the things we did was run an amazing race at lunch one day a week. Teams signed up (we allowed subs if necessary) and every week they’d get two or three challenges and then the last team finished would be eliminated.

      I think we staggered their starting times by 30 seconds (based on when they finished the week before).

      We charged each group $20 to enter and used half for supplies and half for a prize for the winners.

      1. Lexy

        That sounds really fun!

        When I worked in gov’t we did a bocci ball tournament over 4 or 6 weeks in the summer (same thing, subs were allowed) and went out on the lawn around our building (in the state capital mall) and played bocci… it was only for bragging rights I think… but still really fun, got people out of the office and enjoying the beautiful weather we have in Oregon in the summer and got people talking/socializing who normally wouldn’t work together.

        And of course it was 100% optional.

    2. Anonymous

      Pot luck lunch with a theme – preferably off site. On the chosen day, you all leave work for a longish picnic lunch (maybe at a nearby park if the weather is good). Have everyone bring something related to the theme (maybe eggs for easter, favorite childhood dish / family recipe, favorite comfort food, dish from another country, etc.). You don’t have to plan for a full potluck meal – if you’re sharing desserts in February, everyone can bring their own sandwich – as long as you have the important elements covered.

      Those are – eating together, being away from the office, and sharing as a team (even the explanation of why your childhood dish is Kraft macaroni and cheese!).

      1. Rana

        I agree that events with food would be comforting.

        And, speaking as someone who once worked a poorly paid job as a sometimes literally hungry – if not starving – grad student, where they had weekly “burrito nights” for us, sometimes knowing that you’re going to get at least one solid meal a week on someone else’s dime can get you through otherwise difficult times. (My supervisors at that place were amazing; not only did they do the burrito thing – and left the leftovers in the fridge for us to eat – but they regularly scheduled other food-based bonding events. So appreciated!)

        1. Anon

          I agree with this in theory, but now that I have discovered I’m allergic to wheat, often I can only eat what I bring. It’s not anyone’s fault, but it’s disappointing to not be able to join in and try the food that everyone else has brought. And even when people are being careful and inclusive with what they bring, they generally think of vegetarian or vegan dishes, which do not preclude wheat. So I completely appreciate their efforts, but, like I said, it can be disappointing.

    3. littlemoose

      Your idea about flexible furlough scheduling will surely be appreciated by your employees. And it’s great that you recognize the frustration of being a federal employee right now (though I’m sure you feel it too). I like the potluck idea above. We’ve done a few crafting projects/workshops in our office, with voluntary participation and low-cost materials, but that I realize that may not appeal to everyone. Really, I think food goes a long way to help people feel appreciated.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Yeah, I’ll get furloughed too. But I can weather it a lot better – I bought my house when I was a wee GS-13 Step 1, so now that I’m a 14 I can just reduce my spending to previous levels if need be. It’s going to be a lot harder on my GS9s and 10s.

  63. Grumpy Cat

    Is a summary section at the top of the resume/CV something hiring managers want to see? If yes, then should it be prose or bullet points?

    I was recently told I ought to add such a thing to my CV by someone else in my field (academic administration). But in the past I was told this information belongs in the cover letter.

  64. Anon the Don

    Just had a second interview with a candidate that we are moving forward to hire. Really like the person and should be a good fit both in culture and experience.

    However, there are some things that needed some polish. Some are personal pet peeves and other are presentation skills. How and at what point should I convey this to the candidate once hired? When I see it happen again? At review time? As an aside during the first couple weeks? I’m sure the eye contact was a nervousness thing as was the outrageous umm-ing. The candidate didn’t seem to be aware how much they were talking during the interview.

    1. Diane

      In the first few weeks, evaluate the candidates skills and comfort level in critical areas. Early on, you can address big-picture expectations. So, if presentation skills and public speaking are important (and you’ve already made this clear before hiring), you’re clear up front about what good performance looks like, what resources are available to help people improve and remain strong, and how you’ll measure results. Please don’t wait until review time to tell someone they’ve been doing something irritating or worse for months.

    2. Malissa

      Give it a week or two to make sure it wasn’t just a case of the nerves. Most of what you mention should go away as confidence in the new role increases. If it doesn’t then you know it really is a problem.

    3. LMW

      Does the eye-contact thing or the umming have anything to do with the actual job? Because, if not, why mention it at all? You’ll just make someone feel really self-conscious about something they might not be able to control.

  65. DC

    I work in a very small office for a large company. In this office, I supervise operations and have two direct reports. I have a colleague who works in sales, and we both report to a manager.

    My manager recently delegated my colleague’s time card to me. The position was converted from exempt to non-exempt, and my manager’s reasoning is that I already manage two non-exempt time cards, so what’s one more.

    I have a few concerns/issues with this.

    The first is that I can now privy to all of my colleague’s salary, raises and vacation benefits, which I’m not sure is OK, since we are directed through HR to not disclose that information to each other. I’m currently my manager’s backup for the time cards when he’s on PTO, but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate on a permanent basis.

    The second is that although my colleague is non-exempt, we keep different hours since she has a sales position and needs to make sales calls outside the office and occasionally needs to stay late for conference calls. My direct reports and I keep regular business hours, but my manager wants to ensure that my colleague is recording an accurate time card. I don’t really see how I could verify that. When I told him that, he said that I still need to keep a close eye on her time and that I shouldn’t let personal bias get in the way.

    Which brings me to the last thing. I would consider myself friends with my colleague, and my manager told me that as a supervisor, I should not have a personal relationship with her because it can create favoritism. I’m not her direct supervisor and she has a completely different job function from my direct reports and me. This is also not a company policy, it’s my manager’s personal policy.

    I realize this is his prerogative as our manager, but does anyone have any ideas on how I can address my concerns? He’s not very open to discussion about his decisions.

    1. LMW

      I don’t really have any advice for how to approach it with the manager, but it kind of sounds like he is looking for problems with her or wants to find an excuse to let her go. If that’s the case, I think that makes the whole situation a lot more delicate.

    2. Lindsay

      I don’t see any problem with you being able to access her salary information, etc.

      As a supervisor I was able to edit people’s punches (if they forgot their time card or forgot to swipe in or out) and as a result could access everybody’s wages in the same system. I just treated it as confidential information – I didn’t look up people’s payrates for fun and I wouldn’t share the knowledge of people’s payrates that I had with anyone else. I also would not have used them to try and negotiate a raise for myself (ie I wouldn’t say “Well I know Wakeem makes $15 an hour and I have more responsibility than her so I should be paid accordingly,”).

      The rest of it is problematic. Have you directly asked your manager how you are supposed to “keep a close eye on her time” when you are not even necessarily there at the same time?

      The needing to make sure you keep a close eye on her time “don’t let personal bias get it the way” bits are odd. I agree with LMW that the manager seems to be looking for problems with her.

      It’s also odd that he seems to be classifying you as her supervisor when from your description you two are on the same level. I could understand the whole “no personal relationships thing” if she was lower than you on the org chart, even if you were not her direct supervisor since there can still be issues (issues I’m intimately familiar with at this point). However, since you both report to a manager directly, I would say you were the same level even if your job description includes direct reports and hers does not and thus there should be no conflict of interest in you two being friends.

      I would just go the route of seeking clarification I guess. Seek clarification as to how you are supposed to babysit her hours when you aren’t there. Seek clarification as to why he seems to be considering her your subordinate when as far as you know coworker and you are on the same level.

      On a side note, is it possible your manager demoted your coworker? Usually you wouldn’t just change a position from exempt to non-exempt – there are specific reasons why a position is categorized as such, (exempt employees must be making a certain amount, be performing management work or work critical to business operations, and be working independently and able to exercise their own discretion when making business decisions). I believe technically a company can decide to move somebody from exempt to non-exempt (but they can’t do the opposite unless the above criteria are met) but since they can get away with not paying overtime to the exempt employees I can’t see why it would benefit them to change her back unless that criteria no longer fit her. It would also fit in to the cautioning you about being close with her since you are a supervisor, and the comment about needing to keep a close eye on her.

      Idk the whole situation does seem weird and delicate.

  66. Joey

    Alright, here’s a tough one.

    What is considered physical violence in the workplace.

    Obviously it includes bringing weapons, punches, fighting, threats, etc. But does it include saying things like “I could kill you. You screwed up that report so bad.” Or saying something like “you know if I wanted to I could kick your ass.” Obviously context is involved, but where’s the line for you?

    1. Katie the Fed

      I think it totally depends on the people, the environment, and the tone. Not sure I could make a blanket rule.

    2. Jamie

      Anything in the realm of threat – a joking “if you make one more edit ill kill you” with a laugh is fine….anything where someone threatens to harm someone even with I know where you live…no one should feel unsafe.

      And physically – the second you touch someone in anger. I don’t care if its a shove, a punch, or grabbing an arm so someone doesn’t walk away. hands to yourself. Where it gets tricky is what about the victim? If Joey punches me and I hit him back – am I gone too? Differentiating self-defense from retaliation is tough.

      1. Joey

        Or a joke from a non joke. If no one finds it funny is it a joke? What if I push you jokingly? I know guys do this sometimes, what if we’re horsing around and we jokingly punch each other? It sounds easy at first, but its really difficult to draw the line.

        1. fposte

          And that’s why I think joking pushes can’t be okay either. They don’t have to be treated as battery, but there’s no gain and too much room for trouble there. Verbal has room for more nuance, but no forceful touching, period.

    3. RLS

      Maybe not physical violence, but if it’s not handled well could definitely become a harassment issue, I think.

    4. The IT Manager

      Threatening physical violence is not physical violence. But it would be possible to have rules against threats of physical violence.

    5. Not So NewReader

      I think you can find much in the law about this and case law.

      I have had people say “I could kill you…” and I knew it was just an expression of frustration. I never feared for my safety.

      Other times I have had a coworker throw something (away from my direction) and I became concerned for my own well-being.

      I am big on eye contact- no eye contact or intense eye contact send off red flag warnings in my brain. If a person maintains fairly normal eye contact while expressing frustration- I tend to feel I can continue talking with them and matters will calm down.

      In my first example the person retained eye contact and responded in a logical manner to what I was saying.

      In my second example the person did not have any eye contact and seemed oblivious to the fact that I was talking or even standing near him. I reported the second person to my boss.

      1. Lindsay

        Interesting because I had not considered eye contact, but I think eye contact is a large part of my implied context below. In any of the expressions of frustration that include physical violence, eye contact was being made, and the person was speaking directly to me so I could hear, and were part of a conversation, and those things I think helped make it clear that the threat was not an actual threat.

        If the same thing had been muttered under their breath while walking away, or otherwise said in a context where it was clear I was not meant to hear and/or be able to respond I probably would have felt differently about what was being said.

    6. Lindsay

      Depends on the environment I think. What is acceptable in one workplace is not in another. In general I feel like restaurants etc are much more permissive about this type of thing (and seem to rely on yelling and personal dominance more in general – at least based on the places I have worked and shows like kitchen nightmare) than professional office environments.

      My old boss jokingly told me he was going to shoot me and stab me in the neck on different occasions if I screwed up something, neither of which I minded because clearly he was not serious.

      So the “I could kill you” or even “I’m going to kill you” for messing up a report doesn’t bother me. I take them as an expression of annoyance or anger and nothing else.

      However the “You know if I wanted to I could kick your ass,” bothers me more because it sounds more like an attempt at personal intimidation or an actual threat of violence, rather than just an expression of annoyance. There’s a lot of semantic analysis and assumed context going on here because again, “I’m going to kick your ass for f-ing that up so badly” doesn’t bother me in the same way as “You know if I wanted to I could kick your ass” does.

  67. Maria

    I tried for 2 years to transition from law into higher ed, and finally got a job in higher ed/HR office…as a secretary. Any advice for how best to set myself up to move up from there, so I’m not stuck as a career secretary? I hear mixed things about the success other secretaries at the school have had trying to move up the ladder.
    Also, any good books, blogs, etc. to follow for HR industry? Thank you!

    1. Anonymous

      You’re trying to strike a bit of an odd balance here. You need to present yourself as capable of doing the work of those in the positions to which you aspire without either being presumptuous (“Just let me do your job for you”) or appearing to consider yourself above the secretarial work you were hired to do.

      My general guidance is be friendly and helpful to everyone (including other secretaries) and make sure the work in your proper secretarial job scope is done flawlessly. Ask questions when there is an opportunity, and learn everything you can. See what industry references are used by the other professionals in your office.

      If you’re doing this, you can ask to (or may be invited to) help out with other project work that you can fit around your main job duties. But you need to walk a very careful line here – secretaries have more power than people new to the work world generally realize. They see everything (learning opportunity, btw) and the good ones have the ear of those at the top. Any hint of a superior attitude can sink you. Finding a mentor in the field but not in your office may help.

      Good luck.

    2. Anonymous

      Just in case you are still reading this… one of my coworkers did something similar in that she moved from being a paralegal to an entry-level position in higher ed. In my case, my first job out of college was as an administrative assistant in a higher ed office.

      My advice is kind of simple, actually – be a stellar employee and take advantage of the opportunities to become involved. I hated the job I started in within a few months, for a variety of reasons, and tried finding a way out. After about four years, a vice provost (not a person who was in our chain of command, and someone I’d only met maybe a dozen times, when he’d stop by our office) called me and said he wanted me to move to one of his offices in a non-admin assistant role. When he asked me to come speak with him, he said he’d wanted me to come over because his interactions with me showed I was knowledgeable, bright and kind to the students I was constantly in contact with. It hasn’t even been two years since I’ve moved; I was promoted within a year and my job satisfaction has grown exponentially. This VP did similar moves with many of the others in my office now too.

      My point is – you may not know who is paying attention to you and when an opportunity with that person/department may arise. Be sure to watch for new job openings, of course, if you’re interested in other units at your institution. Lastly, take advantages of other opportunities to get to know people. Sometimes when I think like this I feel cold and calculating, in that I’m thinking primarily of how it can help me in the future, but at my university there are lots of ways to get involved: as a staff advisor for a student group; helping judge student competitions; participating in the student judicial committee, retention committee, or other committee openings as they come up; helping during student move-in/welcome week; helping with student orientation, preview days, open houses, graduation, etc. You never know who you may bump elbows with and make a good impression on!

  68. New Reader

    I’d like to use this opportunity to say thank you AAM for all your wonderful advice and insights. I found your blog while looking for advice on resume writing and have since been addicted to reading it every day! I am not a professional (I was hired just this week as a grocery store cashier to train for front-end supervisor)and even though a lot of the posts on your blog did not apply to my job search, I’m sure that much of what I have learned here, if not useful to me now, will help me later on in my career, or just in life generally. I’ve learned things that I didn’t know and also confirmed some things that I felt myself were right, but was advised differently (such as to remove objective from my resume and not to do walk-in resume drops at offices). I think reading the posts here helped me feel more confident with my job search and interview.
    Also want the thank the person (sorry I can’t remember your name) who suggested the ‘sock bun’. I just tried it today and am thrilled about being able to wear my hair up! I think it will now be my standard for work at my new job. Thanks!

    1. New Reader

      And now I realize that I use the word ‘just’ too much. I’m sure there are other terrible grammar/spelling mistakes I hope you will all forgive.

    2. Lindsay

      Yes. I’m not what you would consider a professional either. I was a supervisor in an amusement park for years, and now I am a photographer/sales person at an old time photo place.

      However, I have still found the blog immensely helpful; a lot of it is how to be good at communicating with people, which will help you in life no matter what. There is also a lot of how to be a good manager/leader – and again the basics are still the same whether your direct reports are doing IT or accounting work, or running a cash register. Problems in performance still need to be addressed, and addressing them constructively is important. Personal issues still need to be navigated. I find a lot of what is discussed relevant even if I am not working the same types of jobs as the other commenters.

  69. TheSnarkyB

    BUSY Friday at work, so I can’t read all the comments so far. I hope I’m not being redundant.
    We’ve discussed these things here before, but can I get the final word on:
    1. Cover letters: Body of the email or attachment?
    2. Cover letters NOT for posted jobs (I’m cold-applying to internships at mental health centers) – What would you like to see in a subject like for this if you were taking applicants?

    1. TheSnarkyB

      I’d also appreciate comments on length of cover letter when it’s in the body vs. attached

        1. TheSnarkyB

          Yeah, I was more looking for multiple opinions (thus comments) without reading through the plethora of old posts. I also think some opinions may have shifted or have added caveats since the recent PDF discussion.

    2. danr

      1. Yes and No. I pay attention to the job ad, and many of them specify how they want the cover letter. If I add the cover letter as an attachment, I add full business addressing to it, including my email address. You can find the full range of “How people want things” in an interesting blog in the library field called “Hiring Librarians” http://hiringlibrarians.com/ . I’m sure many of the attitudes of “how applications should be done” carry over to other fields.

      1. TheSnarkyB

        Thanks for the hiringlibrarians link :)
        Re: your first piece of advice: Nothing I’m applying for has a posting, thus no instructions, (and that’ll be the case for me for a while) so I’m just looking to get a sense of average preference of the trusted commentariat. Looks like I tried to jump in too late in the day :(

  70. some1

    I’m an admin in a large dept (200+ people). There are only two admins in the dept (my position was created due to growth). My former counterpart transferred to another position in the company in January, and they hired a temp while searching for a permanent replacement.

    The first temp found another job, so they hired a second temp. They hired the permanent admin, and she was trained by the second temp.

    The second temp basically dropped the ball on a lot of things and kept me out of the loop on things I needed to know. She also tried to boss me around. I basically let it go since I knew she was leaving soon, but is there a good (professional) way to say to the new admin, “Forget everything Jane taught you & do this instead”? The new admin seemed to like the temp a lot.

    1. RLS

      I have done A LOT of training in my life…a lot, in varying degrees of complexity and time consumption. One of the most frustrating things is dealing with consistency. Most of the training I’ve done has been safety-sensitive, and I was always the authority and expert on the issue.

      When there was a conflict in that kind of training, I handled it so that the focus was on the objective, not the person who did the different training. I would say something like, “I understand Jane taught you this and this practice. While it’s practical for [reasons], it’s [better reasons] to do it this way, because [magic logic here, boss says so, I say so, etc]. Could you try it that way for me?”

      1. some1

        This is a really good suggestion! Was trying to figure out a way to do this without seeming like I was just bad-mouthing the temp.

  71. Jennifer

    I need some advice. I’ve been at my job for about six months now. My boss was on vacation and an incident occurred in our office regarding another coworker. The president of the company asked me to write a news release for the media.

    My boss came in the next day and was mad. He said it seems like the president and I have things covered, and he didn’t want to discuss the next steps with the situation. He kept saying “you seem to have this covered.”

    I could tell he was upset. I said that I would feel better if he spoke with the president and they formulate a plan. He said no that the president and I have it covered. He was visibly upset with me.

    When the president asked me to write something up I asked if he would call my boss in and he said no. He said that this is time sensitive and I need to do it ASAP. He said he would call him once we got the release written.

    I don’t know what to do. I like my job but I’m upset over my boss’ reaction. I was just following the direction of the president and my boss was on vacation. I’m afraid I’m going to get fired over this.

    1. Anon the Don

      President trumps boss but doesn’t make your situation any less uncomfortable. I would go to boss and say, “in the future, how would you like me to handle this?” Ultimately even boss understands that when the Big Boss says jump you ask how high after you are well into the air. But it will give you an idea of when vacation lines can be crossed with your boss.

      My rule with my staff is, don’t call me on vacay unless you are dead or the building burned down. And at that, call me once the flames are put out.

  72. Ask a Manager Post author

    So I’m spending most of the day cleaning out closets, because my fiance is moving in here shortly and apparently wants a closet. This place is three stories with tons of closet space, and somehow in three years of living here, I have expanded into ALL OF THEM. The amount of clothes alone is horrifying.

    I am about to tackle the guest room closets, where I keep everything I don’t wear and I really should donate most it. Who has tips for being ruthless in going through this stuff? I want to end up with most of it gone, but my brain is screaming “you will love to wear that some day,” even though I haven’t worn most of it in over a year. Make me more ruthless, please!

    1. some1

      I had to do this when I moved. If I couldn’t remember when I wore it last, it got tossed.

    2. Emily, admin extraordinaire

      Get the book “Organizing from the Inside Out.” It has great tips on how to make decisions on what to keep, sell, or toss.

    3. Jamie

      Omg finally I can help you!! I’m a relentless purger.

      Stages. Don’t linger over stuff – make two piles: things you’ve worn in the last year and things you haven’t. If you have a hard time getting rid of stuff bag the over a year stuff immediately and put it sk e where out of sight for a day. Try to remember what’s in it. If there is nothing you recall, specifically that you must rescue then get rid of it without opening the bag.

      Stuff within the year: 3 piles. Things you love and WEAR and would replace if ruined. Things that look good on the hangar and/or were spendy but you feel unsure or uncomfortable when wearing.

      The third pile – keep the classics and basics as supplements for regular wardrobe. Pareto principle comes into play – most people 20% of your clothes are worn 80% of the time. Keep the top 20% toss the bottom 30% and the middle 50% determine based on actual use.

      1. FD

        “Keep the top 20% toss the bottom 30% and the middle 50% determine based on actual use.”

        Oooh, I love that model! I’ll have to keep that in mind.

    4. Jessa

      Exactly. If you can’t remember when you’ve worn it. If you haven’t worn it for a year and it’s not some special thing like your academic garb for speaking at commencements, then toss same.

      If it doesn’t fit well, toss same or have it altered (seriously, even if you’re losing or gaining weight, depending on your health needs and desires, unless it’s the garment you’re keeping for your personal boost – I can’t wait til I can fit this one special marvelous power suit,) get rid of it.

      If it doesn’t match a lot of your stuff, that’s a good cue too. You want the smallest wardrobe that is A: comfortable, B: does what you need it to, with fun extras that you adore, and C: fits decently.

      Obviously you divide everything by season and do this for each group so you don’t manage to toss all your winter stuff because this year was warmer and you didn’t wear a lot of it.

      1. Rana

        Those are great rules of thumb. Another one: don’t keep anything that doesn’t make you look and/or feel good. So your favorite fluffy pajamas that are dorky get to stay, because they’re soft and comforting, and that fab suit that makes you feel powerful and confident, and that shirt that gets you all the compliments. What gets tossed are things like the shirt you wear when you have no clean clothes (or even the one you wear only when all your favorites are dirty), that skirt that looked good a few years ago but is now horribly unfashionable, the pants that are great except for that one weird button you’re always meaning to replace, and so on.

        You should be able to reach into your drawer or closet, pull something out, and be happy with your pick, whatever it is. If you want to put it back and take something else out, and it’s not just because you’re not in the mood for purple today, there’s no reason to keep it.

        And if you keep junky clothes around for dirty projects, designate one set, and everything else goes. No keeping potential “painting shirts” around.

    5. FD

      My general rule is, “If I haven’t worn it in two months, it needs to go,” unless it’s seasonal clothing. If it’s seasonal, if I didn’t wear it during the last season it would have been weather appropriate, it needs to go.

    6. Diane

      Recruit a ruthlessly honest friend with good taste. Open wine. Put on music. Your friend’s job is to tell you to toss anything that is unflattering or stupid. It works, it’s fun, and you end up with clothes you know you’ll wear.

      1. LMW

        I just did this when I moved. I tried every single thing on, and if I didn’t like how it looked at that moment (regardless of how well it might have fit in the past), I tossed it. If it was something I liked, but couldn’t wear to the new job (more conservative than old job), I put it in a separate pile and then chose just a few things to keep. If it was something I like, but I never wear (such as a turtleneck sweater that it’s never actually cold enough to wear, or a halter top that I never wear because there’s never a day when I feel like wearing a strapless bra), I just reasoned that it can fulfill it’s pretty clothing destiny better with someone else. And then there were somethings that I just own a ton of that I tossed. Do I wear all 20 pairs of blue jeans? No, I only wear maybe five of them. Toss. (And by toss, I mean donate, which was actually awesome timing, because a local department store has an annual Goodwill Sale, where you get a coupon for every item you donate).

    7. Ask a Manager Post author

      These are all good tips! Thank you!

      I am the queen of keeping things because they look good on the hanger but not on me, and also keeping thing that no longer fit. I’m about to be ruthless about both those groups, and it’s very exciting!

      1. danr

        My wife has been doing this for awhile… Keep classics that can be altered if they no longer fit. Keep a couple of sentimental favorites even if you’ll never wear them again. Keep warm stuff to wear around the house, since you’ll start cutting back on heating to save money. (grin).
        Donate clothing in good condition to organizations so you can deduct something from your taxes. Toss the rest.
        The worst thing about this… now it’s *my* turn.

      2. fposte

        Things that help me: with stuff that no longer fits, I remind myself that it had its time, and I don’t buy clothes to keep them forever. I also focus on how the kickass level of my wardrobe will be so much higher when I get rid of the deadwood and the dubious, and how nice it is to be greeted by a row of stuff that I really like without the pity garments.

    8. KayDay

      (I say this as someone whose problem is hoarding too many clothes as opposed to buying too many clothes)

      First, ego through the closet with a bag and get rid of all the obvious I-wont-wear-’ems. Don’t think, just bag. Personally, I find it helps to pick a day when you are feeling kinda grumpy (and hence, ruthless).

      For the tough stuff, (assuming it’s in season) I hang the item on front of my closet door for 2 weeks. If I can’t find a reason to wear it with it right there in front of me, it needs to go. And I don’t feel guilty because I really did give it one last chance.

      I do hang on to a few special occasion things as long as they fit–because that stuff I do legitimately wear once every year or two.

    9. Anonymous

      Use the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy rule: If you haven’t worn it in 6 months, toss it. I did that when cleaning out drawers and closets and I had like 7 garbage bags full of clothes and shoes that I donated to charity.

      1. Jamie

        I think 6 months works in a temperate climate. In Chicago we have half our wardrobes put away for parts of the year. If you’re in a very seasonal climate you may need more time.

      2. Katie the Fed

        My big problem is I’ve been everything from a size 16 to a size 4. I have trouble parting with the skinny clothes because I dream of being that size again. I have trouble parting with the fat clothes because I’ll probably gain weight again. Damned thyroid.

        1. Jessica (the celt)

          I have a similar issue due to health reasons, and I’ve finally decided that if I haven’t fit into it in over a year, I’m going to donate it. Part of the reason is trying to get over the shame of staring at those clothes I can’t wear right now (and may never again) and part of it is that I realized that my style is ever-evolving and I probably won’t even want to wear it should I actually get to that weight again.

    10. MP

      I’m pretty ruthless with tossing stuff because I’ve moved 8 times in the last 14 years. I’ve learned to not be emotionally attached to anything. It’s just clothes. I can replace ’em. Don’t give it too much thought….just check the pockets for personal stuff, toss into a bag and take the lot of it to a donation centre right away.

      I keep the classics – black dress pants, blazers, other stuff that doesn’t go out of style quickly. The rest is either donated or tossed if I haven’t worn it in 6-12 months.

      I don’t tend to do this very often, but every once n’ awhile I’ll find an item that I’ve forgotten about with the price tag still on it. I usually donate that stuff. If I didn’t care enough to remove the tag and remember to wear it, I must not have needed it very badly. Someone else probably needs it more.

      I think the overall trick to ruthlessly gutting your closets is to not think too much about it. Give yourself 10 seconds to decide the fate of an item and move on to the next thing.

    11. Job seeker

      Alison, Be strong. I hate to clean closets too but you will be so happy when you do. Divide what you want to keep between what you do not wear. We give ours to Goodwill. Hey just think that gives you a reason to go shopping for some new spring clothes.

    12. Ask a Manager Post author

      I just took eight huge trash bags of clothes and shoes to Good Will! And I’m not done yet. This is fantastic.

      (I do feel disgusting about my apparent consumerism, however.)

      1. Jessa

        Rather than Goodwill… Considering a lot of us on this blog are/were career people, I know for instance our State (ohio) Unemployment Office has attached a charity clothing store that specialises in outfits for people who need them for interviews/jobs at a very cheap rate (in fact I believe that if you are on unemployment they will give you one gratis to get out and interview.) Maybe there are places like this available where you are?

        I just, I read a lot about Goodwill in the news and they just seem to me to come over…well as a non profit they seem to be pretty profit driven. I know compared to every other thrift store I’ve ever been in their prices are outrageously high and they seem to spend an awful lot of money on pretty buildings in mid to upscale areas. They don’t seem visually welcoming to people who really need their services in their stores (not talking about their job centres here.)

        1. Elizabeth West

          Ooh, yes, this!! I had to go to the charity store while I was job hunting. I literally had nothing for interviews that fit / was in good shape–I had been wearing company shirts for so long. They were very nice and didn’t make me feel like a poor grubbing pathetic mess, even though I felt that way. And I got a very nice blouse and some pretty jewelry.

          I’m going to pay that forward someday, even if I have to buy something for it.

        2. doreen

          I don’t donate my clothing to Goodwill ( I donate it to other charities) , but I do want to point out that Goodwill’s mission is to provide job training not clothing. The thrift shops are a means of funding and possibly providing that training, not a service to provide clothing to the needy. Similarly , there are reputable auto donation programs that use the donated vehicles to teach auto repair and then sell them to fund other services. In either case, the non-profits may provide vouchers to clients to shop in the thrift store or give a repaired car to a person in need , but that’s not the mission of the agency.

        3. Katie the Fed

          If you’re in the DC area (which I think you are), you can donate your professional clothes to Dress for Success, which helps women joining or returning to the professional workforce find appropriate attire. Their donation hours are a bit of a pain, but it’s a good organization. I’m bringing a pile of stuff there next week.

        4. Anon

          Because of a move and other reasons, our household is having to really cut down on expenses. However, all of my jeans (all three pairs!) were getting large holes in them, and I only had cotton sweaters, so I went to Goodwill, and I got three just-like-new pairs of jeans and six or seven wool sweaters for $60. I felt like I had hit the jackpot, and those clothes have gotten me through the winter in a much colder climate than I’m used to.

      2. Kristi

        In addition to your favorite thrift store, there may be non-profit geared towards providing professional clothing for unemployed who need to “suit up” for an interview. I try to keep this in mind when clearing out my closets.

      1. Katie the Fed

        I agree! AAM shouldn’t enjoy any happiness or positive life changes. She’s here to provide free advice but I swear if she has good things happen to her, that is just NOT ok.

    13. Elizabeth West

      If you haven’t worn/used/touched it in over a year, it goes. Make a donate pile for things that are in good shape and a toss pile for garbage.

      You can always buy new stuff, and if you haven’t used it in that long, you’re probably not going to. This rule has helped me a lot–I have pack rat tendencies, and Hoarders scares me every time I watch it.

    14. Not So NewReader

      One thing that I did not see written above here– get rid of anything that is a downer- whether it makes you sad, tense, upset or any negative emotion.

      I use this for my household items as well as my clothes. That expensive suit that did not work out- is such a downer. Every time I looked at it I think “where was my head at when I bought THIS??” Get rid of it.
      Don’t keep things out of a sense of obligation, keep it because you like it, it’s your style, etc.
      Dare I say? This goes for momentos and keepsakes and heirlooms. If you keep it for no other reason but you feel obliged to keep it- then let go of it. It’s not a joy, it’s an encumbrance.

      I did sell some stuff. I took the proceeds from that stuff and paid for repairs on some of my antiques that I knew I would be keeping. That was kind of neat because that the stuff I got rid of served me one last time by fixing something I am keeping.

      1. Katie the Fed

        I tossed all my yearbooks last year for the same reason. What a downer. Hated high school – why would I keep memories of it?

        1. Jamie

          When my mom died we were cleaning out her basement and I wasn’t around and my sister asked my ex-husband to go through my old boxes. My yearbooks, old letters, my poms jacket…all gone. Including my leather bracelet with my name stamped that I made at camp. A collection of feathered roach clips..

          And it’s not like I’d use any of them now, but still makes me sad. I am a mercurial purger but I have some room for sentiment. Proof being I’ve dragged a piano through 8 moves that no one plays because my mom loved it. And jewelry I will never wear that was passed down. Glassware from Germany whose only purpose is to sit in my breakfront.

          Now I’m all sentimental and inspired by you guys to clean and purge. Perfect day for my husband to paint the inside of our closets….he will be SO glad you guys inspired me!

          Two kind of related thoughts. Did anyone see the most recent epi of the Big Bang Theory? How amazing was Bernadette and Howard’s closet? That thing was huge for a small apartment – I don’t have anything near that big. I can’t tell if they made it like that as plot device or if it was an oddly placed second bedroom?

          Also, does anyone have recommendations for websites about interior design stuff? Nothing fancy, but I cannot for the life of me figure out the best way to arrange furniture in my bedroom and living room and everyday I try looked wrong. Is there like a formula for that? I need math.

          1. Jamie

            I don’t know what word I intended to type when autocorrect gave me mercurial…but that wasn’t it.

          2. Job seeker

            Jamie, I am very sentimental too. I have boxes of letters and cards from the almost 31 years I have been married now on a shelf in my closet. Some of the letters my husband wrote me when we were engaged and he lived in Maryland and I lived in the South. Some cards were from friends through the years from different places we have lived. I have congratulations of your marriage cards from friends, baby shower cards, old Christmas cards. Some of the people who send these are no longer here.

            I have a large teddy bear my husband gave me a few years ago at Valentines and a doll that he gave me under the Christmas tree. The doll had a new wedding band attached to her when my husband upgraded my ring a few years ago. I have a pillow my grandmother made and a pillow my sister-law made for me. The pillow from my sister-in-law was a wedding present with my husband’s and my name on love birds and the date of our wedding on it.

            I don’t know what your taste is but there are so many decorating magazines out. I love Traditional Homes and I use to get Beautiful Home too. I like the special interest ones Country French, Beautiful Southern Homes, Southern Living. Go to their websites they have a lot of ideas especially Traditional Homes.

          3. Not So NewReader

            Jamie- about arranging furniture. NO math from me, sorry. But there are a few rules I use.
            Long items should run parallel to the longer walls in the room. This assumes the room is a rectangle not a square. So this means things like beds, dining room tables and couches should parallel the longer walls.
            This give you more usable space in the room. (No I am not a pack rat…ok, not really bad…) And it also makes the room look larger.

            I feel that drawers and doors should have enough clearance to open. There should be walk around space – sitting on the couch should not entail banging your shins on the coffee table. All doors and windows should be accessible and in working order.
            These are the goals I set for each room. No magazine photo shots will EVER happen at my home. But ease of use and safety are my top priorities.

            I love to look at these magazines of homes with beautiful rooms. What I am doing is analyzing the room. One photo showed a couch no one could ever sit at- the coffee table was against the couch. Another photo showed a lovely living room with all kinds of good color coordination. No one could ever sit in the chairs because there was at least ten pillows in each chair.
            I love the pictures of white living rooms and a dog sleeping on the floor. OH YEAH- that is practical. Then there was that really cool CD holder that was part of the decor. I looked at it closely and realized the owner could never buy another CD- the holder was FULL.
            And the saddest thing- People buying books simply because the binding color coordinates with the room. oh my. I have a thing for books….

            When I started getting rid of stuff with the negative emotional pull, my house started shaping up into more like some I want.
            Am sorry to hear of your stuff that got tossed out- no one should ever make that decision for another person.

          4. Jessica (the celt)

            I’m having this issue. There are things that I put a lot of emotional significance on that probably shouldn’t have that significance (sometimes just because one of my parents gave it to me or something like that…and it could be something as “insignificant” as a toothbrush holder). One thing is the only good memory I have of my sister, so even though we’re quite thoroughly on the outs, I want to keep it as a reminder of a time when things were like this (that, strangely enough, is the toothbrush holder that I don’t even use). I also have three of my HS yearbooks and sometimes I just want to throw them away — not because I hated high school. On the contrary, I loved it. I just don’t want to be reminded of the person I was then or what my family was going through or who I was dating. But should those books have all of those feelings put on them…?

        2. Jessa

          @Katie, about the yearbooks? I would have called the school and asked if they wanted them for their historical collection in the school library. There’s a lot of history in yearbooks and so many people just dispose of them so they disappear. Also sometimes a school will get a call from someone who lost theirs and really would like a replacement because they no longer have pictures of x person who has since passed away. Having an extra means the school can accommodate. Even if it is written all over to you.

          1. Not So NewReader

            I think there are websites that will buy yearbooks- I don’t know if that is a scam or not.

    15. Katie the Fed

      I accumulate a lot of stuff too, especially clothes. And I’m trying to pare down as well because my significant other will probably be living here by the end of the year.

      Whenever I need to clean, I watch an episode or two of Hoarders. Seriously, I get so skeeved out I just start filling trash bags.

    16. Jessica (the celt)

      I do this type of cleaning (always) when I’m in a “all this stuff has got to go!” kind of mood. I find that the things I would normally waver on, I get rid of without sentimentality, while I still keep things that either mean something to me or have a purpose in my life. If I do it on a so-so day, I keep at least 3x more things than I would on my “too much crap! Ahh!” days.

    17. Anonymous

      Here’s something I did last year that worked out well, it might not work for several closet’s worth, but might help you pare down that last round of clothes that is slightly too large:

      For things stored in drawers etc, make sure everything you have is clean and then put them all in a specific box. When you need a shirt, go to the box and pick out a shirt. Do the same the next day. When you do laundry, you can put those clothes back in the drawers. After that, you should only go to the box when you can’t find what you need in the drawers. (And you can be flexible with yourself – if you find yourself thinking “Man, I really want to wear purple today, and I know there’s that awesome purple shirt in the box” – go get it, the purple shirt is obviously something you want to keep!)

      Do this for however long you think is reasonable and/or until you haven’t been back to the box in many weeks. Get rid the box.

      You can do the same thing for clothes that hang up by turning all the hangers to face the awkward direction. When you wear something, put it back with the hanger in the normal direction. At the end of six weeks, or a season, or whatever, get rid of anything that is still hanging in the awkward direction.

      It’s a little draconian, but it helped me finally get a picture of what I was actually wearing!

      Obviously, don’t include things like the suit you only wear for interviews in this process, and depending on your climate you might want to do a round for summer and a round for winter.

    18. bo bessi

      This won’t help you immediately but may in the future. I have a system that I use yearly. At the beginning of the year, I hang all of my hangars backward in the closet. When I wear and replace an item, I hang it back the right way. Anything left backward at the end of the year (meaning I didn’t wear it) gets donated. It’s harder to trick myself into thinking I’ll wear it eventually if I haven’t in the last year.

      1. Jamie

        This backward hanging hangar thing is sheer genius. I cannot believe I never thought of that – but it’s really perfect!

  73. Forrest

    I don’t know if people visit the Linkedin group often – but I put my resume there for judgement. I would love people’s feedback!

    1. Jamie

      I don’t think I managed the résumé subforum very well. That such a useful function…we should revisit how to make it more user friendly.

  74. Cassie

    Has anyone tried to take on the office bully and how did it go? We have a toxic manager who is the admin head of the office. I am not one of the targets (I’ve heard she criticizes me behind my back, but otherwise she leaves me alone) but I have observed and overheard her behavior, plus a couple of other coworkers have confided in me.

    I really hate this – it’s been going on for a few years now. I finally talked to my boss a couple of weeks ago (his position has authority over the admin head position). None of what I told him was a surprise, although maybe he thought they were just isolated incidents. He said he would talk to her, but he also wants to speak to other staff members to get more feedback. The problem is that understandably, some of the coworkers are afraid of retaliation, or they don’t want to get involved. There’s doubt my boss can do anything (aside from talking to her and we all know she will react very badly) – I’m 99.9% sure she will not be let go (either firing or being asked to resign).

    It’s just really frustrating because I feel that people shouldn’t have to work under a constant cloud of fear or be routinely bullied.

    1. The Dowager Crawley

      I agree. And there are different kinds of bullies. Some deliberate with targets and some petulant children who tantrum when they don’t get their way.

      I’ve never been the target of the first kind and only occasionally in the line of fire for the second over the years. I do not engage and refuse to raise my voice. These instances I would go to my boss and explain what happened and how I will not be spoken to like that. I’ve said that I am more than willing to have any conversation related to the business, no matter how unpleasant, and its business…if they want to fire me that’s a business discussion and within their rights…but it’s not within any employers rights to be verbally abusive or raise their voice. “I shouldn’t have to sacrifice my dignity in order to earn a living. And I won’t.”

      And I know how pompous that sounds but I get very pompous when trying not to cry and when embarassed I come off somewhat haughty. I’m not recommending it, but my tolerance meter is set very low for this kind of thing and I have enough credibility with tptb to make this point.

      1. Cassie

        I don’t think it sounds pompous – it’s just a reminder that we should be able to speak up and shouldn’t have to suffer abuse. In our office, we’re just so used to sucking it up.

        I hope that if I were in the situation, I’d be able to hold back tears long enough to say “we will continue this discussion later when we (you) have cooled off” or something like that… I just wish my coworkers would feel safe enough to do the same.

        1. Jamie

          I almost wonder if this is a function of age. I didn’t get my first “real” job until I was 37 and moved into management rather quickly. I would have been far less sure of myself with bullies in my 20s just out of school. By the time I had my first job life had taught me that taking shit was unnecessary and having a good amount of self -confidence maybe the late start had something to do with my lack of reticence to demand civility and professional courtesy.

          I have heard people say its happened to them at job after job and if that is the case I think revisiting how one responds can help. Not that it’s ever the victims fault or should anyone have to figure out how not to be bullied…but I think the bullies get some kind of emotional payoff from some people,they don’t get for others.

          Bullies should just grow the hell up, IMO.

    2. Malissa

      I make them explain their position. ‘I’m sorry, but why can’t I have a pad of sticky notes?”
      “I’m confused, I do work on A and B. That sounds like X work that fits nicely with the Y work that you do.”
      “I hear you saying that you don’t like X, but can we focus back on Y here?”
      “I’m sorry I think I misunderstood you. could you please say that again?”
      “Wow”
      All things that I’ve actually said to various office bullies/temper tantrum throwing workers. The key is to not let on that you are annoyed and to give them a chance to cool their jets and say what they really mean. Often they will back down off of drama mountain.

    3. Yup

      Depends entirely on the type of bully and what they’re actually doing to people. Some bullies are extremely insecure and get really aggressive as a way to fight off their own worries about being taken seriously, keeping their job, etc. With these types, a calm but firm direction from their boss can do the trick. At the peer level, it helps to convey that you’re not a threat to them — you’re asking where the darn file is because you need to do your work, not because you’re undermining their authority or trying to get them fired.

      Other bullies just like the charge that comes from making people cower, to make themselves feel powerful. You can deal with them at the peer level by being unafraid and pushing right back. Bully is yelling at you? “Chris, lower your voice. I have the order details right here, but I’m not going to be shouted at.” If one or two people calmly stand their ground publicly, others can get on board by following their example. It helps to remember that, at the end of the day, what can the bully really do you? Sure, they can be ragey and scary and demoralizing, but beyond that — what? Punch you? Set fire to your desk? Put gum in your hair? They’re just jerks with a power complex who like to step on people.

      Either way, good luck to you in dealing with this. It sucks to have to deal with this person, but don’t let it exert too much influence over your work life. Keep your focus on how it affects work getting done, rather than what a general jerk they are, so that they don’t continue to get free rent in your head space. :)

  75. LMW

    So…this thread may have already run its course today, but I’ll see if anyone has any advice for our current awkward situation. Any suggestions for what to do when you have a new coworker in a support position who you don’t trust to support you? We have a new admin, and I think she must be doing at least okay in supporting our manager, but she dropped the ball on the one thing I asked her to help with. She’s been defensive with the person training her, and, in general, just doesn’t seem to be really proactive or have great attention to detail. Our boss wants us to use her more, to free up some of our time to concentrate on more specialized tasks, but frankly, no one wants to. If she does something wrong, it will take more time to fix than it saved me in the first place. I think we’re all using “oh, she’s just not up to speed enough to help with that” as an excuse when the boss mentions it. I guess the question is: Do you think you can teach so one to be pro-active and have attention to detail, or do you think someone needs to tell the boss that no one actually wants to rely on her. I think right now we’re all just hoping that the boss will notice on her own, since we’re all separately saying the same thing. Is six weeks to early to even start evaluating her on this type of thing? Should I just mind my own business?

    1. Malissa

      You can teach it, but it has to be done in a very non-confrontational way. It also requires the patience of a saint and a lot of positive reinforcement.
      That said you really need to take the issue to the boss. If she’s not clicking it’s better to replace her sooner rather than later.

      1. LMW

        “It also requires the patience of a saint and a lot of positive reinforcement.”
        I think we have the exact opposite of that situation here. The person training her is very direct and hates having to repeat herself. In fact, everyone here is very direct and expects that they don’t have to repeat themselves. So this might just be a really bad fit.

        1. Diane

          But the way humans learn, especially adults, is through repetition and demonstration in multiple ways. It’s not realistic to expect someone to understand what you want after only one fly-by instruction. And if your new person is hesitant for fear of making mistakes, that might explain the lack of initiative. That said, if everyone else in similar roles did manage to figure it out and jump in, you may have an issue of lacking skills or bad fit.

    2. Cassie

      I don’t know how much you can teach someone to be pro-active or detailed (it’s a bit of a “state of mind”) but I think while you may not be able to change personality, people should be able to alter behavior. If they really want to, that is.

      I think it is important to be direct and explicit (in a professional way) when addressing performance issues. Like my friend wanted a support staffer to offer to help when others were working on a major project, but my friend never told the staffer that. She (my friend) just seethed that the staffer wasn’t a team player and didn’t offer to help. In your situation, I would suggest being specific when asking the staffer to do something (it might be because she’s newish and not familiar with the ways of the office). The proactive part may not be your problem to fix, but I’d start with specific incidents or instances first. If it turns out to be a continuous problem, then go to the boss.

      1. Jamie

        This. I think attention to detail and being a proactive self starter should be hired for, because IMO they are inherent traits, but behavior can indeed be taught. You can teach someone to need to proof 3 times before Turing in because it matters to them, but you can teach them to do it because its policy. And if they try it should be able to be done well.

        However, you can’t teach a thing to someone who does t want to learn it.

        1. K

          I agree that people have to want to learn, but I think it is possible, sometimes, to an extent, to teach both detail-orientedness and caring about detail-orientedness (for lack of a better term). We hire paralegals straight out of college, who come to work for our firm for a couple of years usually while deciding whether they want to go to grad school. The work we have them do – much of it checking and formatting citations – is extraordinarily detail oriented in a way they’ve never really had to care about before. Part of training them has to be not only where the comma goes in a citation but why they need to care that the commas are in the right place in every single citation.

          Some of them never get it, but most of them do; you can kind of see the light bulb go on in their head at a certain point. I think understanding why something is being done, not just how, is a key part of that. Granted, we’re talking about young people who haven’t been in the (full time) working world before, so they’re perhaps a bit more malleable than adults, but at least it’s possible to a degree.

    3. Elizabeth West

      I don’t know; six weeks isn’t very long. Is the field and are the responsibilities completely new to her? The defensiveness sounds to me like she’s overwhelmed. If the boss and new coworkers are pushing, that can freak people out.

      I’m not blaming you; it just seems like there needs to be a check-in on what her progress is and if she needs to back up and solidify things before moving forward. I actually had to do this at NewJob–I had to say “Hey, I’m still shaky on this, can we wait until I have X down before we move to Y?” Coworker was agreeable and now I’m much more solid on X, and even did a bit of Z yesterday. I think that was just what I needed to get comfortable with Y.

    4. LMW

      Thanks everyone. This was really helpful. I’ve been trying to be really patient with her because she is still pretty new. I think the point about making sure we explain the why and being really specific about stuff being assigned to her is valuable. Maybe after she nods, and we think she’s accepted the assignment, we need to explicitly say “Great. I’m expecting you to run with this and get it done and come to me if you have questions or need info to get started.”

  76. Anon

    A job just came up on my job alerts that I have applied to at least 3 times and possibly more; I didn’t start keeping good records of jobs I applied to until a couple years ago. This is the *exact* same job, with the same job description, etc.

    I have no way of knowing if it wasn’t filled and then pulled, or was filled and this is turn-over. Considering the spacing of the job getting posted, I suspect it was filled.

    Should I take this as a warning sign about this job and not apply again? If they really can’t keep a person, that’s worrying.

  77. Miss Displaced

    When Your Boss Treats Vendors Badly

    Ok, my boss and owner of the company is a real scumbag. His typical M.O. when dealing with a vendor goes something like this:

    1. Lie to vendor and overstate how much money their company is going to make in future when it “takes off” and how much work he will want to give them
    2. Get what he wants from them in payment terms or even partial work done in advance
    3. He will be extremely difficult to work with, making many changes due to his indecision and insistence on everything needing to be a rush job
    4. He will complain about the work, and call them incompetent
    5. Based on #4, he will then refuse to pay them what they are due, or insist they not charge for all the changes he has caused
    6. Things end badly. He bad-mouths vendor to everybody who will listen in an effort to gain sympathy from some poor unsuspecting new vendor he will hire to take over the project.

    I’ve been here two years and seen this scenario play out about a dozen times. When I see a potential new vendor I want to warn them to steer clear, but I don’t dare say anything or risk losing my job. The complete and utter lack of ethics bothers me, and worse, I often get caught in the middle, as I have to work with some of these vendors.

    I mentioned this to someone the other day, and they said that I was being silly and naïve, and that my boss was merely “Doing business the American way, by telling these companies what they want to hear,” and that this is the norm just about everywhere.

    Seriously? Has the business world sunk so low?

    1. Anonymous

      No, this is not normal. And it’ll bite him in the butt in the long run. Just like employers who are jerks either can’t get or can’t retain top employees, businesses who treat vendors like this can’t get or retain top vendors. And just like top employees have choices, top vendors have choices too.

      Truthfully, I’d say it’s time to look for a new job.

      1. Miss Displaced

        Oh, I’ve been looking for sure. I just hate being caught in the middle sometimes. I’m often asked to be the “go-between” when tensions get high and it really sucks.

      2. Miss Displaced

        I should also add that he does more or less the same in regards to former employees. Constantly bad-mouths them and says how many mistakes they made.

        I know if/when I leave he will do the same to me and there is no way I would ever get any kind of recommendation from him.

  78. Steve G

    Can you force a manager to give you your review? We had ours late Feb the past few years. It’s still sitting. I am my job, but at the same time, if I’m not gonna get a raise, well, I’m leaving. There is a cool job (and I am specialized so jobs I qualify for aren’t common) I want to apply for if I’m not getting a raise. My philosohphy is give me at least a cost of living increase or I go.

    Has anyone ever given a boss an ultimatum to give them a review?

    1. Anonymous

      I suppose you can take the initiative and ask when a review will be taking place and then follow up. It wouldn’t hurt to suggest a date, or timeframe, ie. ask to meet in the next 2 weeks. But 86 the ultimatum, you can’t force a manager to give you a review, and usually ultimatums rarely work in the world of business. Good luck!

    2. fposte

      So you don’t want a review anyway; what you want is a raise.

      Personally, it sounds to me like you’ve got one foot out the door anyway. If there’s nothing to keep you there aside from a small financial bump that’s only running a month or so late, you’re not really attached there.

    3. TheSnarkyB

      Apply for the job, Steve G. The hiring process is slow enough that you may wait another month for both the review and an answer on the new job – you can always turn them down if you need to.

  79. Anonymous

    Wow! Huge thread! Well, here is my question for viewing audience. After a 1 year break, I began the job hunting process, it was a rollercoaster ride and at times, very discouraging. After 8 months of countless interviews that did not result in a job offer, I finally landed a great job. I’ve been here one year, the process involved a phone interview with the recruiter, then a peer interview with 4 other people who actually do the job. No manager, no HR, no weird irrelevant questions, just a conversation. I would be working closely with this group and they liked me, believed I could do the job, and recommended me for hire. I went through the backchecks and all. And that was it, I got an offer a few days later. That’s how this company operates, it allows your peers to meet you and if you’re a good fit, you’re recommended for hire. This company also has a low turnover rate and the staff are very well qualified. I have been to interviews where there was a peer in the room,but it always involved multiple HR people and managers. I’ve come to dislike HR people, they ask useless irrelevant questions, and in most cases, have never done the job. Even hiring managers, same thing. It was refreshing to be interviewed by peers who actually asked relevant questions specific to the job. Why don’t more companies rely on the judgement of the people who do the work to actually make a hirng recommendation?

    1. Elizabeth West

      Yay!
      I don’t know; as the receptionist at past jobs, I was occasionally asked what my impressions of someone were, but it was hardly ever taken into account most of the time.

      1. Jessica (the celt)

        I am part of a team of staff that are usually involved in interviews, but none of us feel our feedback is listened to. We take a half hour at a time out of our day for three to five interviews over the course of a week or two. The higher ups ask us to fill out forms and sometimes come in to talk to us about our impressions of the candidates. Our group often discusses the candidates after we’ve met them all and we usually agree on our top pick or at least the top two out of the group. The funny thing is that the higher ups always, always, always go with our last-place choice within the pool of those we’ve interviewed. It’s gotten to the point that most don’t even want to go to the interviews anymore when we know that they’ll just hire the person we feel is least qualified and least likely to stick around (or to fit into our company’s culture).

  80. Eva

    Alison, since you’re happy to answer questions about your job, I’d love to hear about how you manage your time and also how you schedule your breaks and time off. Here are a couple of questions (but really I want to know EVERYTHING; no such thing as TMI! :)):

    (1) Do you set out to work for a particular number of hours each day and then stop, or do you decide what you want to do each day and then stop when it’s done – or do you wait and see how the day develops?

    (2) I’ve followed your blog for several years and never found that you were “missing” in the comments. Are you always around for some number of hours after publishing a post (except when you specifically state that you are traveling or whatever that day)?

    (3) Do you ever find that the comments explode to the point where you have trouble keeping up just with the volume?

    Basically I’d like to know how you manage to stay sane with a job requiring you to be ‘on’ practically all the time!

    (4) Oh, and this question is not related to time management, but since you always seem so calm and composed and, well, professional, I’m curious to hear whether you always feel like that or whether there are times when you are feeling more strongly or are more confused than you let on?

    (5) Oh, I can keep going forever, I realize… But this will be the final one. What have you learned from your readers?

    If I don’t reply immediately it will be because I have gone to bed (I’m in Europe), but I so look forward to any reply!

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      1. For the work I do for clients, I devote a set number of hours each week, although I’m not as structured about a daily schedule I was when I was in a more traditional job. But for Ask a Manager stuff, I usually just do what I want as I feel like it, with the goal of making sure I’m posting at least a couple of things each day. Sometimes I get on a roll with that and I write stuff for the next day(s) too. I’ve recently started writing the weekend’s posts in advance, which lets me have the weekend “off,” which is nice.

      I’ve managed to arrange my work in a way that lets me have a huge amount of downtime, which is fantastic because I am very, very much about lounging about. However, when I’m lounging about, I usually have my laptop open, so it’s pseudo downtime, I guess.

      2. Because all my work is done from home, I’m always on my laptop throughout the day, and I love reading the comments as they come in, so it’s easy to pop in and out of the comments throughout the day (with some occasional exceptions, like if I have to appear in person at a meeting).

      3. The only time I’ve ever had trouble keeping up with the volume of comments is with open threads. Other than those, I read every comment, for the most part. I actually feel a little unsettled when I don’t — it feels like I don’t know what’s going on in my own house.

      4. Ha! There are loads of times when I’m not feeling calm and composed at all! I get confused, riled up, irritated, and flustered with at least the same regularity as everyone else, if not more! It’s just easier to hide it from behind a screen. (It’s nice to know that it’s coming across as composed though!)

      5. I like this question. I’ve learned a ton from readers! One immediate one that comes to mind is that I’ve become much more sensitive to the candidate side of the job hunting experience, for instance — and often find myself saying to colleagues about some hiring related thing, “Trust me, people HATE this.” But oh, there’s been so much else too! I think I learn something here every day, actually.

      1. Eva

        Thank you for replying! It’s good to find reassurance in your answers that you’re probably not going to burn out anytime soon so we’ll have you for a long time. :)

        Nope, never caught you coming across as flustered or anything approaching it! And I love how your blog makes you appreciate both sides of the employment story.

        Thanks again!

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yes, when I write posts in advance, I usually set them to auto-publish at some point in the future so that I can just go off and do other things and the blog just runs itself in the background, which is really nice (especially when I’m traveling).

      2. Erica

        If YOU have trouble keeping up with comments, think about poor us :( I love open threads (although I’m usually too late to contribute) but they’re so long that I tend to just scroll through. Sometimes I skip them altogether, which is sad because in this case I would have missed this exciting discussion of “behind the scenes Alison” AND the discussion of the hoarding officemate. Who knows what else I missed?

        Would you consider doing a “highlights reel” or even cherry picking some questions to be featured in their own posts?

        1. Christine

          Agreed! I think this particular Open Thread hits the record for # of comments…my goodness, so much to absorb! I too am sometimes too late to contribute.

  81. Becca

    I hope there are still people on to respond but I am pretty new to the ‘real world’ and I have a devil boss. She is the owner of the company and can go from ‘sweet and caring’ to downright evil. In a meeting the other day my co-worker made a mistake. She snatched the paper from him, tore it up and said “If you were me, you’d shoot you.”

    She yells a lot and demeans us. I’m torn because I haven’t been here very long (under a year) so I don’t want to look like a job hopper but…I also don’t think this behavior is healthy for me either.
    1. What’s a reasonable amount of time to stay? One year? two years?
    2. How can I find out in future interviews if the managing style is “violent and yelling”. I don’t want to say “I left my job because the owner was mean” but I definitely do not want to be in this situation again.

    Any advice?

    1. Diane

      As long as you have no other short hops, stick it out for year. Job searches take awhile, so if you start now, you’ll be fine. Just keep telling yourself that you’re learning tons from this evil boss — like how not to manage, and how to remain calm and sane in the face of a difficult situation. It will help you down the road.

      As for next time . . . you can ask about culture, management style, and communication style. Think about how you want to frame your questions so you get good information without griping. For example, at one interview I was asked how I liked to be managed, and I said I didn’t care for micromanagement–just give me direction and parameters and be there for questions. The hiring manger (who hired me) sighed with relief. So, good fit in that sense. Also, you can ask how potential managers and coworkers deal with stress, with examples of difficult and stressful situations they typically face. Watch body language too. When I asked what a typical workweek was like, everyone looked furtive and mumbled about occasional long days. What I’d already seen showed me they didn’t manage time well, so I’d bet occasional meant constant.

  82. Blinx

    Open thread! I’ve been waiting for this so I could express my extreme gratitude for the awesomeness that is Cookie Butter!!!!!! Finally got to Trader Joe’s and happened upon it, and remembered someone on here raving about it. Then when I was checking out, I noticed another display, and they had Crunchy Cookie Butter — I’ll get that next time. Right now I’m enjoying it on top of buttered toast. Yummmmmm!

    1. Katie the Fed

      Oh god, cookie butter.

      There are supposedly 27 servings in a jar. HA! The first time I bought a jar I sat there with a spoon and noticed in horror that I had half a jar left. I threw it out and took out the trash because I couldn’t control myself.

      The boyfriend and I just bought a jar. Last night we were sitting here with two spoons in the jar. That stuff is the devil.

  83. Grace

    What’s the best strategy to notice and evaluate “red flags” in a job interview? I was recently hired for a (paralegal) job in a small law office. Within 24-hours of my hire the creepy older receptionist (man in his 60s) started stalking me and harassing me. I asked him to stop and he wouldn’t. I reported him to the office manager, who blew me off because she was drunk. I’d go look for my boss to discuss projects and I couldn’t find him. He’d be gone for long stretches and would come back reeking of pot. Since he wasn’t clean and sober, I couldn’t discuss my work with him. I was fired for not attending a going-away lunch with my boss, other employees, and the co-worker who has been stalking me (including to the ladies’
    restroom, parking lot, photocopier, staring at me for long stretches of time, coming up within 1″ of my body and standing behind me, and creeping me out.). I would have never taken this job if I’d known about any of these problems. I actually show up to my job, on time, to do work. I’m clean and sober and I’m not
    used to people not being clean and sober on the job. Finally, there
    was no money for payroll. Please give me your best ideas for avoiding this kind of insanity again. Thank you.

    1. Miss Displaced

      @Grace
      I wish I knew too ! I’m still stuck in a similar situation with a bully boss after an almost 2 year stint of unemployment.
      My boss was nice as could be during the whole interview process. I only figured out he was nutters about 1-2 weeks into the job and had no way to see it coming.

      1. Grace

        @MissDisplaced:
        Well we’ll just have to polish our resumes, our connections,
        and try, try again!
        I’m going to make a chart and note “red flags” on it after interviews and run it by a couple of close trusted friends with good business sense. In hindsight, there was one red flag that I ignored during the interview process. While interviewing with the attorney/boss and the office manager (a woman) about the details of the job, clients, etc. this little thought came across my mind like a shooting star: “Wow, she has really rough skin for a woman [the office manager]. I wonder if she has drinker’s skin?” I’m kicking myself now…because indeed the whole environment was addicted, including her!

  84. AmyNYC

    Awhile ago there was a post about the time of day you email a resume/application, but what about day of the week? Right now I’m applying after work, and I aim for emails to be received Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday morning and try not to submit things for Mondays or Fridays. My assumption being that emails at the beginning and end of a week are more likely to be put aside and forgotten. Is this reasonable or just one more job hunting thing I’m over thinking?

    1. Derek

      You may be over thinking this one! I am not certain on this, but I would imagine most employers look at resumes in groups or blocks of resumes.

      Good Luck Amy!

  85. Grace

    Does anyone have advice about what to do about a job application question that asks if you’ve ever used drugs, and if so, the details? I don’t think I should be obligated to disclose trying pot once in Hugh school, but I don’t want to lie.

    1. Katie the Fed

      Does the job involve a security clearance? If it does – do not lie. Ever, ever, ever. It WILL come back to bite you. The drug use won’t keep you from getting the clearance, but the lying will.

      If it’s not a job involving a clearance, then I can’t imagine it’ll come back to haunt you.

      1. Grace

        No, it doesn’t involve a security clearance, but what if I apply for a job that does in the future? If there was a discrepancy in my answers, would that bite me in the a**?

        1. The IT Manager

          It seems unlikely that a job application you fill out now will be pulled out by employers in your future. If you’re worried, though, just tell the truth. As Kate said even admitting it won’t disqualify from government jobs, but getting caught lying will.

          It didn’t disqualify Bill Clinton from the presidency.

        2. Chinook

          Only if the future security clearance includes a polygraph (which can happen with the higher clearances that also include investigating family members). And then, as, ong as you admit to it in the polygraph, it shouldn’t be a problem.

    2. Jamie

      If employers are going to start ruling out everyone who ever did anything ever…well it will become a candidates market because there will be VERY few of them left and employers will be competing with each other for them.

      And a lot of us will have to turn to prostitution or illegal goat farming just to feed our families.

    3. Jazzy Red

      I think almost everyone in the world has tried pot once. I would not consider that relevant, and I would say “no” to that question.

      1. Chinook

        While I have no issue with not including trying pot once many years earlier in a security clearance form, I do have an issue with the thinking that everyone has tried it so it is no big deal. I have never tried pot and neither has my husband. I also didn’t drink until I was legal (unless you count the time I accidentally grabbed someone’s wine glass at dinner when I was 8). I hate that, when I say that, people assume I am lying and coax me into telling the truth.

        1. The IT Manager

          +1 I’m annoyed by Jazzy Red’s assumption that “almost everyone in the world has tried pot once.” I haven’t, and I prefer to think that that doesn’t make me some kind of outlier. I’m not a particularly conservative in the grand scheme of things, and I think this assumption of Jazzy Red’s actually is a sign of the kind of people she’s surrounded by than by the reality. Especially “in the world” part of her belief.

          * BTW although I have never had to give it much thought (or been asked my opinion), I do think I’d support the legalization of marijuana.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          It’s actually roughly half the U.S. adult population. (About 106 million Americans say they’ve tried marijuana at least once — an awful lot of people to incarcerate.) But I think Jazzy Red was just using hyperbole to make the point that it’s so commonplace that most people don’t think it’s a big deal.

  86. Derek

    I asked one of my current co-workers to give me a reference. The same day a prospective employer called him first and didn’t even bother to check my other references. The hiring manager gave me a call two days later with a job offer at the high end of my salary range requested and mentioned that my references were great!

    This is going to be a great job for me, and an excellent pay bump. I am grateful to my co-worker for the great reference. Is it common to thank someone above and beyond the common “thank you”, when giving you a reference? I was thinking about giving him a card along with a $50.00 gift card to his favorite resteraunt that he likes to go to with his wife. Is this sufficient, too much, not enough?

    1. Miss Displaced

      I think taking your co-worker out to lunch or the gift card to a restaurant/Starbucks etc. would be a nice thank you. As to the amount, I guess it depends how well you know them, but $25-$50 seems about right.