{ 919 comments… read them below }

  1. Rob Bird

    If you were interviewing someone for a job, and you could only ask them 5 questions, what would they be?

    1. Coelura

      1 – What are your skills & experience that demonstrate that you will be successful in this role?
      2 – Why do you want this position?
      3 – What culture are you most comfortable operating in and what do you want most in a manager?
      4 – How many grocery stores are in a 50 mile radius of Big Ben in London? (I ask this question not for the answer – who knows – but because I want to see how they respond to a question from left field. I am hiring folks that have to handle weird & unusual, but very important questions. I don’t expect them to have the answer, but want them to be able to say that they would need to research and come back with an answer.)
      5 – What questions do you have about the position, the company, the team, and the manager of the position?

        1. Coelura

          It it too important to know how the candidate will respond to questions that are not easily answered. A candidate who answers with a number will cause me untold issues. A candidate who answers by telling how they would find the answer is someone I’m interested in. This is a skill set and approach that is required for the job I’m hiring for and this is essentially a simulation question. A simulation should not be insulting to a candidate.

          1. Kerry

            But that question doesn’t tell you ‘how the candidate will respond to questions that are not easily answered’ as a part of their job. If you want to know that, you could ask something like,

            “In the course of this role you may have to answer complex questions that require some research – do you have experience with this? How would you go about it?”

            1. Kimberlee, Esq.

              But especially with research, a specific question is much more useful than “So how do you research things?” General questions select for good bullshitters as much as they select for people with good research skills. It’s not an ideal question, but I can’t see being insulted by it.

          2. Colette

            Could you ask a more job-related question? That one sounds so unrelated that I don’t think it will give you a good view of the candidate’s thought process. You could, however, say something like: “A major client asks you . How do you handle it?”

          3. Corporate Drone

            You can ascertain that by having a real conversation with the candidate. Asking oddball questions that put someone on the spot are a waste of everyone’s time.

          4. Anonymous

            I’d find that useful as a candidate – it would help me self-select out of the job! And if you want people to be able to answer ‘weird & unusual, but very important questions’ – wouldn’t it be better to actually ask one? That’s not a question which is in any way important, even if you are thinking of setting up a grocery store within a 50 mile radius of Big Ben, since 50 miles takes you to the outskirts of several other cities (although to be honest, that’s probably the least of the reasons that makes it a daft question).

            1. Ralish

              I agree with other commenters– you can get a better answer if you make the question more relevant to the job. Once, I helped hire an Executive Assistant who would assist a smart but scatterbrained senior executive who had a tendency to lose… well, everything. We asked questions like, “Imagine that the boss came to you and told you he had broken his cell phone. He has 2 hours before he’s supposed to be on a plane. What would you do?” I think that by using real-life situations (this had happened more than once!) we got to see how the person would think through a problem like this, and the candidates got a better sense of some of the odd demands of the job.

          5. mas

            I promise you, with that Big Ben question, your best candidates are leaving the interview thinking you are an incompetent interviewer and will probably be a pain to work with. I’m sure you mean well, but this is how most of us are going to think of it.

            1. Cat

              I don’t think this is always true. It’s completely standard in some fields; and if you’re going to walk into an interview for, say, a management consulting job without being prepared to run through your thought process on stuff like this, you shouldn’t get the job. That doesn’t mean you should ask similar questions to someone interviewing for just any position, but sometimes it’s a fairly established and not ridiculous way to get a sense of how someone thinks.

              I think I’ve mentioned this here before, but we do similar things when interviewing entry-level law students. I tend to ask them hypotheticals based on their writing samples (when I get them ahead of time, which I don’t always for on-campus screening interviews), but I have a co-worker who asks them whether or not a burrito is a sandwich. Honestly, I think it’s a good question; yeah, in practice you’d look at the contract you’re interpreting as the source of the word “sandwich” and you’d look at relevant caselaw and all sorts of other stuff. But I still don’t want to hire someone as a lawyer who can’t stake out an intelligent position on that one and mount a reasonable defense of it without a lot of time to think. And the hypotheticals I’m asking them based on their writing sample are basically the same; the candidate might be more familiar with the general subject matter, but they’re not getting time to research and think about it thoroughly and nor should they. (Those are, of course, also important skills but we assess them in different ways.)

              1. Consultant Liz

                I work for one the top management consulting firms in the world and have extensive experience in interviewing. We would never ask the Big Ben grocery store. We test logical structuring / analytical thinking through case study scenarios and questions. That question is at best useless and at worst unproffessional.

                1. Corporate Drone

                  I worked for one of the (now) Big 4 firms as well, and was never asked something so oddball, nor did I ever hear of anyone else being asked a question like this. That said, the stupidest line f questioning ever came from a small boutique firm (read: unknown) that asked what song best describes me and if I could communicate my management style through a gesture.

            2. Lanya

              I can tell you from experience that I *did* reject a job offer because the interviewer asked me off-the-wall questions. I felt like my intelligence was being insulted.

            3. Victoria Nonprofit

              Totally depends on the industry. These kinds of “mini-case” questions are standard in consulting (as are full case questions, where you walk through an actual business problem using the same decision-making structure you use in a mini-case).

          6. AdAgencyChick

            But why not ask a question more like something they might encounter in the course of the job?

            Because I, as a candidate, hearing the Big Ben question, would probably think, “She expects me to lateral-think my way to a number, and telling her ‘I don’t know, but I’d use research tools to figure it out’ would probably go over like a fart in church.” I’d probably give the most reasonable-sounding number I could and then think, “This job is probably not for me.”

            1. the gold digger

              I actually answered, “I don’t know but I could find out” to that kind of question from a consulting company and they told me I didn’t have “enough problem-solving ability.”

              Oh well. If they want someone who can make stuff up on the fly, I am not the person for them. I like to do some solid research before I commit myself.

            2. Darcie

              Agreed, I’d spend the first few seconds after being asked that question wondering what the interviewer was trying to get out of it.

          7. Kay

            A better way to get that information is to ask the candidate to tell you about a time when a customer asked a question to which s/he did not know the answer.

            The trouble with the Big Ben question as written is that it may lead good candidates to infer negative things about your management style. Asking that particular question suggests you would be the kind of manager who does not clearly communicate expectations or deal with problems directly. Keep in mind, the best candidates are using the opportunity to learn about you too.

            1. Cat

              I don’t know whether this particular question is getting the kind of information the person asking it needs for their particular job. My experience has been that some of those types of questions work better than others; it highly depends on the job and your personal style; and you get a feel for it when you interview regularly.

              However, “tell me about what you did when a customer asked a question to which you didn’t know the answer” isn’t going to get you the same type of answer. That’s going to get a description of how the candidate researched something, and also how they dealt with a customer. That is going to be extremely important for a lot of jobs and is something you should ask. But it’s different than asking something that is going to assess their problem solving skills on the spot which is also important for some jobs.

              I think it helps – particularly with candidates you suspect haven’t had a lot of similar interviews – to preface it with something like “I’m not looking for an exact answer, of course; I want to know how you’d go about attacking the problem, what variables you think are important, and what your best guess of the answer is just given the information you know – spell out all your assumptions for me.”

              1. Kay

                Cat,

                The type of information it sounded lik Coelura was seeking is exactly what you said my question would answer. That you and I interpreted her or his intentions differently further illustrates my point that it isn’t a good question as written. If Coelura is interested in the techniques the candidate would use to solve the problem, I agree that the question you proposed is better.

                1. Cat

                  Well, as I said I don’t know whether it’s getting useful information or not (and it’s not the type of thing that would even theoretically elicit useful information for positions I interview for so I will probably never know). But she also said that she knows that if the candidate just answers with a number that’s a problem, and if that happens with any regularity, that actually does seem like a useful screening function to me. I do think that just throwing oddball questions at people with no context isn’t useful, but one oddball question, with some context given, in a longer interview that asks a wide variety of questions doesn’t necessarily seem useless or insulting to me.

          8. nyxalinth

            I don’t find this question insulting. At least you aren’t asking someone what kind of tree they would be.

            1. OneoftheMichelles

              I choose the tree: amboyna. Let’s see ’em attribute a pre-labelled personality type to that one.

          9. danr

            I’ve been reading the responses, and if the position is for someone who needs to think outside the box while doing research… it’s a good one. I assume that the person is applying for some sort of researcher position, so the question is not as out-of-the-ballpark as some of the others have assumed. I read that question and instantly thought of five or six ways to start looking for the answer.

          10. Dan

            For the Big Ben question:

            If I don’t know the answer off the top of my head, or it’s not easily googable, here’s the three questions I need before answering any question like that:

            1. Why do you want to know?
            2. How good of an answer do you need?
            3. How much time do I have to solve the problem?
            4. What’s your budget to solve the problem?

            For something a bit more domain related:

            5. Does your definition of a “grocery store” include a corner market and a Wal-mart superstore?

          11. W.W.A.

            I once had a horrible job interview that consisted of 6 consecutive interviews with various people who ALL asked me questions like that. How many taxicabs are there in Manhattan? How many dentists are there in Canada? Are there more dogs in Boston than in Seattle? It was incredibly demoralizing and made me think this prestigious company was run by lunatics.

        2. CAndy

          I think the Big Ben question is fine to ask, as long as you frame it properly.

          “You might think this is a bit out there… I’m throwing this in to see how you think on your feet… it’s maybe a bit outside your comfort zone and the reason I’m asking this is because this role involves reacting quickly to changing situations. Write stuff down if you want, I’m just interested in a logical and well thought out answer So, my question is…”

            1. TheSnarkyB

              Pretty sure CAndy is giving multiple options for how to preface it, not saying to use all of the above phrasings.

      1. The Other Meg

        I’m with Corporate Drone. Questions like that are annoying (at best). If you need them to be able to say that they will research and come back to you, then just tell them that during their interview or on the first day on the job.

        1. Zahra

          Yeah, I had a question on how to get an answer to a question in a recent interview. It went like this “Imagine you’re alone at your computer and you need to know something. What do you do?”

          My answer: “It depends. If it’s information that is particular to the company, I’ll snoop around in the shared servers and see if there is a database or file that can answer my question. If it’s an “how do I do [whatever function in specific software]?” I’ll go see my bestest friend Google and try to find an answer that way.”

          1. Jamie

            “Imagine you’re alone at your computer and you need to know something. What do you do?”

            Lovingly caress one of the monitors while I ask the computer for what I need in my most dulcet tones. I will then know the heretofore unknowable because my computer and I are one and we don’t need keyboards to communicate.

            And then someone would take away my car keys and call a guardian to pick me up.

            I’m punch – I’m 8 minutes away from starting my weekend (half-day off – YAY!) which I will spend helping my baby pick up his tux for prom.

            This is a prom he wasn’t going to. He decided yesterday to go. Prom is today. He is lucky I am good at crunch time…and I am good.

            1. Jane Doe

              Now I’m picturing something like the scene in The Voyage Home where Scotty is trying to ask a 1980s computer to do something for him.

              1. KellyK

                I love that scene! (And quote it frequently, whenever my computer freezes up or isn’t responding. “Computer? Hello, computer?”)

          2. VictoriaHR

            “Imagine you’re alone at your computer and you need to know something. What do you do?”

            “Sacrifice a chicken to Jobu who will answer in all of his wisdom. And help me hit a home run.”

            1. Chinook - Chocolate Teapot Social Coordinator

              Just remember – computer blood sacrifices go NEXT to the computer NEVER ON the computer. Explaining the scorch marks and blood residue is always an awkward conversation.

      2. Corporate Cowgirl

        HATE that Big Ben question. That’s a trick question and trick questions don’t belong in an interview and are unfair to the candidate.

        1. Cat

          It’s not a trick question, is it, though? It’s a question without a known answer to which the candidate isn’t going to be able to respond precisely, but that doesn’t make it a trick.

          (Unless the right answer is “London has zoning regulations banning grocery stores around Big Ben” and I’m just not aware of that?)

          1. Kay

            Yes, it is a trick question. The interviewer asked “How many?” That question asks for a number, but the interviewer has implied that s/he isn’t interested in candidates that answer with a number.

            Again, my problem with the Big Ben question isn’t the idea behind it, but that the interviewer is asking one question when s/he really means to ask a completely different question. All that is required to change this from a bad interview question to a useful question is context. For example, if it were an interview for a public librarian, s/he could ask, “How would you respond to a patron at the Reference Desk who asked you how many grocery stores there were within a 50 mile radius of Big Ben?” Now the question is asking for job-related skills rather than a number. Good candidates will try to answer the questions they are asked. It is unfair for an interviewer to ask one question and expect the candidate to provide the answer to a different question. Hiring managers who do this send red flags about their communications skills to potential candidates.

            1. Cat

              Okay, then I don’t disagree. The question should be accompanied by some context. I do think in some places this is common enough that the context – that they want your thought process regarding how to get to the answer rather than a random number – is pretty built in. But that’s not true everywhere and you should make sure to include context when you’re not in one of those specific places. (In actuality, this will be come pretty clear quickly if you’re at all observant; it’s usually exceedingly clear when an interview question is eliciting useful info – good or bad – about a candidate and when it’s just not really landing with any candidate, regardless of their merits. Though, I guess given the horror stories on this site, there are plenty of interviewers who aren’t observant at all.)

            2. Anonymous

              … not interested in candidates who answer with a number – unless they’re a dark-haired guy with pointed ears who is wearing a blue shirt.

            3. bearing

              No kidding — I’m trained as an engineer, and if someone asked me that question in an interview I would immediately think, “Ah, this is an exercise in estimation,” and start thinking out loud: “Well, in the city where I live there are around ten grocery stores within a 1-mile radius of my house, and London is denser overall and more people rely on public transit, so let’s say there might be 15 grocery stores in any one-mile radius, and the area of a circle that’s 50 miles in radius is 2500 times the size of the one-mile circle, so let’s say 2500 times fifteen, and that’s going to be about thirty-eight thousand?

            4. Jessica

              This, exactly. You beat me to it– I was going to weigh in and say that I would absolutely use the Big Ben question, but I also hire Reference Librarians for a public library. Asking a candidate how they would go about locating this information for a patron gives me insight into their research skills, and this type of question would be both appropriate and expected in my industry. However, I am the exception and not the rule. If this question was used in an interview for an architecture or finance job, I would find it bizarre and inappropriate, and it would also raise a serious red flag about the employer.

        2. Kelly O

          I disagree, Cat. I think it’s one of those gimmicky things that sounds like you read it in “The Legitimate Businessman’s Interview Guide – Top 200 Questions to Ask the Plebes Who Want to Work for You – 2010 Edition.”

          I am all for looking at problems from different perspectives and coming up with new ways to deal with information, but I’m sorry. I’m American, I’ve never been to London, and the most recent piece of information I have about Big Ben is that it didn’t chime during Mrs. Thatcher’s funeral.

          If you want to find out if I can think critically, ask a question about difficult things I’ve faced, or present a situation that might happen in the course of the job. Heck, ask me something about current events if you want, but don’t make me feel like you’re trying to catch me being some doofus not smart enough to work at Google, or whatever.

      3. Anonymous

        Question 4 is easily answered:

        “I don’t know. I could get a rough estimate with some time online and a little time to think about it. Why do you ask?”

        1. Hooptie

          I agree. I would say:

          Grocery Stores is a broad category. Are you looking for numbers of mainstream supermarkets only, or do you wish to include food co-ops and convenience stores?
          *gets the answer*
          Great, I’ll do some research and have an answer to you by the end of the day. Do you want a call back or shall I email it to you?

          I don’t ask this question, but I just might from here on out. It would show that when faced with a customer request, my assoicates would be able to confidently qualify the question and follow up appropriately.

          1. Kimberlee, Esq.

            And surely everyone can see the difference between Hooptie’s answer and the Anonymous answer above. One is an answer that gives a real idea of how detail oriented a person is, how they think on their feet, and how they deal with requests for information they don’t have. One is a cop-out that doesn’t tell me anything about the candidate.

      4. Lily in NYC

        Ugh, on #4. Just do a case study instead if you want to see a thought-process. Just because google asks these types of questions doesn’t make it less maddening.

        1. Chris

          You’re the captain of a pirate ship…

          …and your crew gets to vote on how the gold is divided up. If fewer than half of the pirates agree with you, you die. How do you recommend apportioning the gold in such a way that you get a good share of the booty, but still survive?

          Mwah.

      5. Vicki

        Coelura – Find some other way to determine creativity. FInd some other way to determine how a candidate will respond to questions that aren’t easily answered. Ask questions that probe. As questions that fit the job.

        I may be a great candidate, but if you ask me a stupid puzzle question, you’ll never know because I am interviewing _you_ as well… and you just blew the interview.

        1. Anonymous

          But then you wouldn’t be a great candidate for them as well, which is fine. It’s all about both parties finding the best possible fit.

          I’m actually thinking of adapting the Big Ben question to my own organization. We get off-the-wall, huh, where did that come from inquiries all the time. (It’s the nature of the public) Seeing how a candidate reacts to receiving a stupid puzzle question would help me with fit. I would follow up the question with an explanation.

          So I would guess that we would not be a good fit for you – and that’s OK!

      6. Gallerina

        4) The answer is Zero, because we don’t have “Grocery Stores” in the UK.

        Would that get me through to the next round?

      7. Jessa

        Regarding the Big Ben question, if the job was for a tour guide or local reference librarian, maybe. If someone was doing the Knowledge maybe that’d work as a question.

        But if it’s not and you want to know how someone thinks in your field, I’d suggest actually asking a job-relevant question.

    2. Malissa

      Good idea! I’ll be watching this as I will be interviewing soon and can always use good questions.

    3. Runon

      What engages you about your current job?

      (This isn’t 5 it is just one that I’m surprised more people don’t ask. I want people who work for me to be engaged and interested in the work. I think it can also tell you a lot about them, will they focus on the micro details, do they like to solve puzzles, do they enjoy the people part of the work, do they like to write, etc…)

      1. Jamie

        I totally read that as “enrages you” which would make for really interesting and awesome – if not professional – answers.

        1. twentymilehike

          I totally read that as “enrages you” which would make for really interesting and awesome – if not professional – answers.

          This might be more appropriate … I don’t know about you but, I would rather leave an “enraging” job than an “engaging” one LOL

        2. Runon

          That’s a great question too. Sort of the opposite but similar to what I was thinking, but insightful.

      2. Kerry

        Totally agree! If it’s a creative designer role and someone’s eyes light up when she talks about her spreadsheet organisation, that’s a red flag. If, however, it’s an accounting position…

        1. Runon

          Exactly. And if you have a position that has many different parts and they light up at something that is a tiny bit of the job it is worth asking them or finding out if they would be satisfied doing the exciting part 5% of the time.

    4. Kerry

      1. (Something specific to them + the role: why are they looking for a new role if they’re employed, why are they applying for a non-management job if they’ve been managing people for the past six years, etc)
      2. How do you see this role fitting into your career path?
      3. In the jobs you’ve held in the past, which aspects have interested you the most?
      4. What aspects of your current job do you have difficulty with?
      5. In this role, you’ll have to do [important difficult part of the role]. How have you handled this in the past?

      1. twentymilehike

        2. How do you see this role fitting into your career path?

        I actually despise this question. I’m not sure if I’m alone in this, but I hate when this comes up and you don’t know if you should answer, “I want to be HERE in This Role forEVER!” Or if you should say that you make more money, or leave in two years, or whatever. What if you don’t have any clue where you want to be in so many years? Are you penalized for that? It really helps to know what the interviewer is expecting from the person who will fill that particular role, but to me it plays out like a trick question.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.

          I have a whole separate rant about this, but I really dislike that so many people interpret this as a trick question. I ask that question because I want to know if this position will be a good fit for the candidate. I’m not asking it trying to get the secret right answer. I’m asking a question because I want to know the answer, and that answer is very relevant to whether or not the candidate is a good selection for the job. I should be allowed, as an interviewer, to ask questions that meet those criteria.

            1. twentymilehike

              I really dislike that so many people interpret this as a trick question

              I think so many people do that because it is so wildly unclear how the answers will be interpereted. Maybe it doesn’t seem that way if you are the interviewer and you know exactly why you ask that question, but not to the “so many people” who are not in your shoes. I am really eager to read your column, Alison! And feel free to post any links to past articles that you think will help people answer this!

              Personally, I have no answer to this because I really don’t have a career path other than Be Happy and Make Enough Money to Have Fun Outside of Work. I mean, I’m an office manger … it’s not like I have an empire to climb. I realize that’s my personal issue, but I think it’s reality for a whole lot of people, and I don’t think it makes us less desireable as employees. Or maybe I’m just completely on the wrong page …

          1. Judari

            I think it comes down to just being more specific as the interviewer in your question asking. I don’t think its necessarily a trick question but I think its very open ended which can harm the interviewer as well. Perhaps good though in a sense because then they haven’t led the interviewee into how to answer the question. But also bad because it leaves too much room for it to be taken negatively also leads to more generic cookie cutter answers (people tend to answer neutrally if they want to make a good impression). I think on this one the interviewer should just bite the bullet because it leads to less confusion and problems later when it comes to the job.

            Such as if you are concerned with how interested the person would be in doing this exact work in the long-term rather than using it as a foot in the door for a different department, or if you want someone who will not job hop, or someone who is okay with staying in this position without a bump in status, etc. Ask that question directly.

            Of course you may get a cookie cutter answer to please you as well but at least by addressing your concern you put out your expectations into the universe and the interviewee knows that leaving in a month, trying to switch depts, etc. will not be okay at this company. Not saying either that you still wont get those who will accept the job and try to do those things anyway but at least by being direct you have made your expectations clear. I’m sure there are a lot of people who once they realized they couldn’t move up, wouldn’t get a good reference if they left sooner, etc. would probably move on and consider different positions (if they didn’t really need the job). On the flip side by not addressing those issues and asking the big general question you have not made your expectations clear and the interviewee might still give a cookie cutter answer on top of now thinking they can still do those things mentioned if they got the position.

            1. twentymilehike

              Such as if you are concerned with how interested the person would be in doing this exact work in the long-term rather than using it as a foot in the door for a different department, or if you want someone who will not job hop, or someone who is okay with staying in this position without a bump in status, etc. Ask that question directly.

              This exactly. Knowing if it is normal for a personl to leave the position after x amount of years, or if they want someone full-time are going to influence my answer, as well as my desire for the job. I could go either way depending on many factors. I could be interested in staying long-term if the fit is great, or I could be intereted in using the position as a stepping stone, if that’s where it leads. It just feels like the only way to answer the questions when phrased this way is, “it depends.” That’s such a neutral answer that it really doesn’t give the interviewer any real useful information, IMO.

            2. OneoftheMichelles

              It’s an unfair question. It needs to reciprocate.

              Instead of the interviewer telling a candidate what is needed in the role, the open ended phrasing keeps that a secret while asking for full disclosure from the candidate.

              I don’t feel like I can talk openly about the future possibilities on my mind without sounding like I’m just there to use/take unfair advantage of the company I’m applying to. So I give a wishy-washy, positive answer. Why ask me this?

              If you really want to know if my goals are in sync with yours, tell me what you’re looking for…I’d probably feel pressure to show openess/some matching up of plans, but I’m too honest to accept the job without giving you a fair heads up. Sure dishonest people will lie either way, but you’re scaring me away by not being frank.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                It’s not an unfair question. If I’m interviewing someone, I’m trying to get a fuller understanding of who they are and what they want, career-wise. This is totally reasonable. Not sure why you guys find it so adversarial.

              2. Kerry

                Right, but the candidate already knows what’s required for the role, and what sort of person I’m looking for, because of the clear and comprehensive job description I’ve posted and they’ve responded to.

        2. Lindsay

          I prefer this one though, to “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I feel like both questions are aiming at the same thing (and the honest truth is that I don’t really have a career path and so I don’t really know the answer).

          However, I’d rather answer “How do you see this role fitting into your career path?” because I can answer that I will be able to cultivate my customer service skills, or that I hope to perfect my skills in an assistant manager position and then move up to store manager and that ultimately my goal is to become district manager. With the “5 years” question I feel like it’s more tricky, because what if I say that in 5 years I would like to be store manager when there is only one store manager role and it is held by the person interviewing me and they know they don’t plan on going anywhere? And I also can’t play off anything about building my skills if it is not a role I plan on being in for an extended period of time.

          And from the other side of the desk I would rather know what a person’s plans are. Especially for the positions I usually staff, the role can be anything from, “Well I just needed a job from June when I graduate to the middle of August when I move away to college,” to “I plan on working in this position for a good, long time – the hours are perfect for my needs and it’s a way to supplement my household’s income” to “I want to work my way up to management quickly and I know this company has a strong reputation from promoting from the inside.” All of these answers are fine for my needs, but it helps me frame the person’s candidacy in a way I find helpful.

          This is also information that helps me once a person is in a role. If the person plans on staying for only a few months I am not going to devote the same amount of time developing them as I would somebody who will be around long term. If somebody has no interest in moving up in the company (or outside of the company for that matter) then I won’t delegate management-like tasks to them. However, if somebody makes it known that they are interested in moving up I will keep a close eye on how they are doing, and when I feel they are ready help them find tasks they can work on to develop the skills they need to move up.

    5. Shuvon

      1. When did you get your first computer? [icebreaker, no correct answer]
      2. Describe the work environment or culture in which you are most productive and happy. When you do feel most satisfied at work?
      3. When you work with a team, describe the role that you are most likely to play on the team.
      4. Priorities often change in this job. How do you schedule your time and handle multi-tasking? How do you organize for a major, long-range project?
      5. Based on the job description, why are you the ideal candidate for this job?

      And, of course: Do you have any questions for us?

          1. Jessa

            Yeh, I learnt to keypunch before I could write so I was working on computers when I was 6. It was a room sized Univac. In High School we said Kaddish for the school’s old Univac as well. I’ve worked in punch cards, punch tape, reel tape, giant floppies, mini floppies. etc. My first computer language was COBOL.

            I’ve owned a Trash 80, I’ve owned a Commodore 64. That question completely dates me. And could be a clue that leads to refusal to hire due to protected class (my age.)

            1. Waerloga

              Much like Jessa save that we actually got a home computer, an apple II. Took it from 2k memory to 16k.
              We were told that it was a waste, because _nobody_ had tat big of a program size.

              1. Jessa

                I remember building a windows box and being told that I was an idiot for wanting to include a 14.4 modem. As “nobody would ever be able to use that speed.” hah.

      1. Josh S

        I remember our family getting a custom-made desktop computer when I was 5 or 6. We had to be really gentle driving it home so that the platters on the hard drive wouldn’t scratch. The thing ran DOS with an optional GUI for frequently-used programs (prior to Windows 3.x), though most of the things I did were done via DOS…playing SpaceQuest and typing school projects and learning to code basic .bat files.

        Yes, I *was* coding DOS at the age of 6. Why do you ask? (And why the crap did I never keep up with coding languages beyond programming my TI-83 in high school?!)

        1. Chinook

          Josh, I had the same experience with our Radio Shack CoCo Computer. I used to reprogram the typing program at school with different sentences and my teacher would force me to change it back because he didn’t know how I did it. I wish now that I had continued comptuer programming way back in the 80’s but I honestly never thought about is a job to pursue (not because I was a girl but because I didn’t know you could get paid to do it. after all, engineers are the people who drive trains, right?).

          Now, 25 years later, that is the only choice I ever regret. If I had continued down that path, I could be working with/for Jamie instead of wishing I was her AA and planning her staff building events. *evil grin*

          1. LPBB

            I fooled around with learning computer programming in the 80’s but as a kid I just didn’t realize how overwhemingly important it would end up being. So so so very frustrating now, since my lack of technical skills is definitely contributing to my inability to find a real job.

        2. Shuvon

          Actually, I work at a software company, so this question is not about age but interest and enthusiasm. Josh’s answer is exactly what this question is designed for. Someone who says, “I don’t care about home computers” would not be a good fit. For my group, this question has turned out to be a good icebreaker.

          For the record, mine was an IBM XT with 5.25″ floppy drives. I learned to program BASIC on it and played a lot of Zork.

          1. Anonymous

            It seems like the contentious issues are mostly related to the “when” part of the question. Could you elicit the same ice-breaking effect you want by asking “Tell me about your earliest experiences with a computer”?

            1. Jessa

              I guess my issue with that question unless I lie, the answer is still “well I learnt to keypunch before I could write legibly.” Which ABSOLUTELY dates me. My earliest experiences with computers were room sized machines with racks and racks and racks of punch cards. And I’ve been involved with every iteration of the machinery since. Except for the fact that I’ve only used a handful of Mac products and am not very facile on them. Although my sister just gave me a Macbook so that’s kind of changing as we speak.

              Now something like “do you own a computer? What are the kinds of things you like to do on it?” Maybe better. You find out if I game, or do music, or write books. That might give you some information about my personality.

        3. Jessa

          You know what? It also skews to money. The answer might be “I never owned a computer we are too poor.”

      2. Vicki

        These days, “Describe the work environment or culture in which you are most productive and happy. When you do feel most satisfied at work?” is a really difficult question for me. I can’t answer honestly and I don’t like to lie.

        Honest answer: I’m an HSP introvert. I need quiet. (“If you can hear someone talking while you’re reading or writing, your productivity dips by up to 66%.” http://t.co/S0EFwhDeTB). I can’t stand “open plan ” offices. I prefer to work from home 2-3 days a week (mini9mum). I want hands-off managers. I work 40-45 hours/week (productivity drops after that).

        And yet, none of that is something I can answer in an interview because too many people wont like those answers.

        1. Runon

          When do you feel most satisfied at work doesn’t seem like it is about silent coworkers or working from home. I’d answer that with something like, when I’ve got a really complex problem and the tools I need to figure out the root and implement the solution.

      3. danr

        1… my first was a Sinclair ZX81. The hard part in using it was figuring out what ‘newline’ meant. I should have figured out what was in store in my future computer purchases since I also bought the 16k ram pack.

    6. Oso

      I was recently interviewed by an extremely large worldwide company and all the interview questions were situation oriented. All related to how to handle a manager/associate situation and none were skill knowledge based. I could not believe that I could hardley get anything thing about how my skills related to the actual job.

    7. Ask a Manager Post author

      Most of the interview questions people are suggesting here are abstract ones. Those are nice, but they’re not going to get you super useful information that will tell you how someone will actually perform on the job. You need to dig — deeply — into what they’ve done in the past and how they’ve done it. Ask what their biggest accomplishment has been and then probe into how they achieved it. Get them to tell you how they approached real-life problems. Etc.

    8. W.W.A.

      I just wanted to add one that I don’t think I already saw: if I asked your last manager what your greatest strength is, what would he say? What would he say is your biggest weakness?

      I’ve always found this to be an effective way to phrase that old obnoxious question, and to make them think a bit more about how they performed in their last job.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yes, he’s the boy! Twice the size of the girl, but he’s like a large Ghandi while she is a small Kim Jong Il.

      Also, please note that if you click on the picture, you can see a larger version of his handsomeness.

              1. Jamie

                Thank goodness, if comment typos get held against us I’m going to go very silent around here.

                And can I just say I was running around yesterday so I deliberately saved the open thread for today. Saturday morning, fresh coffee, hundreds and hundreds of open thread comments, snugly kitties next to me while I read….life is very good today.

    2. Blinx

      I’m going to go out on a limb and say it is a boy. For some reason, a huge majority (almost all?) of orange tabbies are male. And super friendly!

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        He is aggressively affectionate. My girl kitty is also orange, but interestingly she looks quite feminine and he looks (I think) quite masculine.

          1. Blinx

            Me too! Years ago when I moved into a house, I had doors and windows open, and an orange tabby walked right in! He would visit me from time to time. I wondered if he was friends with the former owner.

          2. OliviaNOPE

            We have an orange tabby but he has big, beautiful bright blue eyes. He is the sweetest!

        1. Kerry

          He looks so calm, but I can totally picture him snapping into action and meowing to be petted. Man I miss having a kitty.

        2. Andrea

          Yes, he has a very masculine cat face and build. I love the girl/boy differences between cats. Our male is social, agressive and emotionally needy. Our girl is terrified of strangers and only wants affection on her terms. IMHO, male cats are a lot like dogs.

          Thanks for sharing! More cat photos, please!

          1. Lizabeth

            How about a photo of both of them? He is now in my photo slideshow for my computer screen :)

              1. Christine

                Awwww! Beautiful cats, Alison.

                FYI – Can’t click on the second picture from the right.

              2. nyxalinth

                Yay, kitties! So cute. I have a calico who runs from everyone but me. She’s also very loud, chatty and bossy, and loves to play fetch. Also important is “helping” me play games, send off my resume, and post replies here :D Also, she’s an outstanding alarm clock.

                1. Elizabeth West

                  Aww. I have a tortoiseshell who runs too. Sometimes she even runs from me.
                  She won’t come in the house, but she has a pretty tricked-out doghouse to hang out in and some toys and a pillow in the shed and a little box to eat in when it’s cold so she’s out of the wind. :)

                  Alison–the neighbor had an orange tabby who had been a stray. He was the most mellow kitty ever. Sadly, he died of distemper last summer. :'( RIP Garfield. My kitty was sort of sad for a while; she would sit and look over into his yard and mew. When I see an orange kitty, I think of him. :)

              3. Alicia

                Cats (especially orange!) make my day. Also, the size difference is hilarious. Is she just petite, or is he gigantic? (No judgement, we have a tabby that I am pretty certain has broken my sternum when laying/walking on me)

              4. JessA

                I’m really not a cat person, (I’m really more of a dog person) but your kitties are beautiful. I loved the photos.

      2. VictoriaHR

        I once read that all orange tabbies were male and all calicos were female. Not sure if it was true or not. I’ve seen orange females but they didn’t have stripes, therefore not tabbies. Never seen a calico male.

        1. Kaz

          Gender has nothing to do with orangeness, but it is true that calicos are 99% of the time female. The gene that creates the calico pattern is recessive and on the X chromosome. So most male calicos have a completely different genetic typo than female calicos.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Did anyone read a book called “While Mrs. Coverlet Was Away” as a kid? It was awesome in general, but I always think of it when this subject comes up because it’s where I learned that male tortoiseshells are exceptionally rare.

            1. businesslady

              oh my gosh, yes!!! I had no memory of that book until this moment, but the title sounded so familiar & (after looking it up on Amazon) I definitely remember the cover. but of course I haven’t thought about it in years–thanks for the unexpected bit of nostalgia.

            2. Anony1234

              I have a female calico-tabby mix. She is a mix of grey, white, and orange. In some of the grey area, she has stripes. On one leg, she has orange stripes. Her beautiful coloring is what made her stand out at the shelter; unfortunately, she is scared of everything and still has an issue with being picked up.

              1. Anna

                Was she feral before the shelter got her? My sweetie was a street rescue and she still hides behind mom’s bed whenever the doorbell rings. She did warm up to us eventually, but it took months of her being an only cat.

                1. Anony1234

                  Yes, she was. I think they found her and her litter mates, although I don’t recall seeing them at the shelter. She was about 2-3 months old when they found her, and I got her 7 months later. My mother came with me to see the cats, and my mom spotted her. The cats with “issues,” as the special dot sticker indicated on her cage’s tag, were kept in a different room. The adoption facilitator tried to reach in to pet her; the cat backed away. My mom tried; same result. I reached in, and the cat turned her head into my hand so I could scratch the back of her head. The adoption facilitator was surprised to see that reaction, and she allowed the adoption to take place. My cat still doesn’t like to be picked up after all these years, but she’s become quite the talker, especially when I give them their food. Plus she gives kisses! I have two others, and they get along famously. My other girl was a mama when the shelter took her and her kittens in, and my boy was given up by his previous family.

          2. TL

            Uh – not quite.

            Calico cats are created when the two X chromosomes in female cats have different color genes on them (one for white, and one for orange, i.e.). In every cell, one of the X chromosomes is inactivated, meaning it’s completely ignored by the cell. However, the one to be inactivated is picked completely at random by every cell. So in the hind legs, if it’s mostly the X chromosome saying “orange” that’s inactivated, the hind legs will be white. But the front legs, by chance, have inactivated the X chromosome saying “white”, so they’re orange.

            Calico males are very rare and generally have a genetic disorder where they have an extra X chromosome, meaning that they’re XXY.

            (Feeding my need to spread accurate scientific information everywhere!)

        2. ThursdaysGeek

          Nope, I had a ginger tabby, Fido, who was a girl. Ok, she was an it, but she started out as a her.

        3. Elizabeth West

          Friend has an orange girl tabby named o.OWafflesO.o You have to write her name like that–one eye is bigger than the other and that’s what he calls her LOL.

      3. Ash

        It’s genetics. Just like all tortoiseshell and calico cats are female, 9 times out of 10 orange tabbies are male.

    3. Kelly O

      I am such a kitty person.

      (Makes me want to run to the shelter and grab a few. We are waiting for potty training to end before we find another furbaby.)

  2. Clerk I

    Has anyone ever done an internship and worked either two part time jobs or a full time job at the same time? My degree program requires an internship, I’m studying psych/substance abuse counseling, but I can’t afford not to work. I barely make ends meet as it is, and I have no family to help me out. I’m just wondering if this can be done. I’m hoping I can somehow satisfy this requirement and still work. My school isn’t really being too helpful, and my advisor basically is just having me push it off as long as I can.

    1. AmyNYC

      I worked two part-time internships one summer, figuring part-time + part-time = full-time, but it felt like much much more.
      As a college student, is it possible to get involved with Residential Life on campus? Some colleges cover housing costs for RAs and it would involves some counseling/mediating which would be inline with your major. If that can take care of some financial burden, you have more freedom with an internship.
      Good luck!

    2. Coelura

      I am doing the same thing and am doing my first round of internship this summer while working full time at an intensive job. I am using my vacation time to take one day off per week and am interning that full day plus one evening each week. I’m hoping this will work! I’m lucky that I have two weeks vacation to use this way.

    3. T

      I did that when I was in undergrad. I got a job on campus working in the gym while interning 20 hours. This on-campus job was great because super flexible hours, minimum wage but I could work 12 hours over the weekend, and the work was just sitting a desk to greet customers/clean the workout equipment, so I could do homework at the same time. Try to find an on-campus job or a shift based job that employs a lot of students. I loved working in gyms, even privately owned ones, because the work is easy and the hours can be good.

    4. Lexy

      At one point in school I was working two part time internships (both paid) and a part time job. The two internships were VERY flexible (ie, there was no office, I just met with my bosses periodically over coffee and worked remotely on projects) and the job was slightly less so (at a school district) but still very accommodating. So… yes… but none of the jobs were strict scheduling jobs (like retail) I could customize my schedule week to week and just give my supervisor a heads up on what I was working on. I was making about $1,500 a month with this schedule (three years ago).

    5. Anonymous

      I worked an internship while I had what was basically a full-time job – generally about 35 hours a week, with four days in the office plus a little time at home. I was able to go to the internship one day a week plus do a little stuff for them online from home at night. Not ideal but useful. Being at the internship a couple days a week would have been much better, but I couldn’t swing that.

      Perhaps there are opportunities for counseling internships at nights or weekends with only a little time in the weekdays?

      1. HSTeacher

        Kind of the same thing, but I actually went back to get a masters with certification (faster than any other route) for teaching. I cut my FT hours back to 32 and worked as an athletic trainer for a clinic at a high school and student taught at the same high school. I’d been with my company and at that high school for 2 years. It was a rough 12 weeks but I also couldn’t afford to not work.

    6. LPBB

      My former manager did that as part of her social work degree. She taught middle school during the week and interned as a counseler during the evening and on Saturdays. She is an insanely well organized and almost supernaturally friendly and patient person, so she was able to do it without taking it out on her students or clients, but she told me she was pretty unhappy throughout.

      I worked full-time and did an internship, but the internship was virtual and I had a very flexible job.

    7. Christine

      I did this during my first-year internship in my MSW program. My paid job was full-time, but they accommodated my internship by allowing me to drop down to part-time during that school year. So I did 3 days at the job and 2 days at my internship. I wasn’t clear if you’re currently working now, but if so, maybe a similar arrangement to mine might work?

      FTR – I quit my job shortly after that school year because I was very unhappy, and I knew that the increased load of the upcoming school year would make having a job on top of that very difficult.

    8. Katherine

      When I was completing my Master’s degree (full time student), I was also working full time and worked at a practicum ~10 hours a week. It can be done. It’s busy, but possible.

    9. Darcie

      This is hard! I’ve worked through university (1 or 2 jobs and tutoring) and volunteered, etc. Working on campus was the way to go for me because even though it was less money, the reduced commute with worth it. A lot of students work at the bookstore or campus pub.

    10. Judari

      In college for about a month while they over lapped I had 2 internships (one about 4hrs a week of work the other 12hrs) and a part time job I worked 20hrs a week on top of school. I do think my grades suffered a bit but I got a 3.5 that quarter overall so not too shabby.

    11. Elizabeth West

      Ugh, I don’t know how I’m going to do this. I can’t afford to work part-time and I’m unable to work two jobs–it greatly affects my health. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I have to do one. Hopefully I can do stuff at work that will cover it (my program is tech writing and my company has a documentation department). Perhaps I could clean up some of the horribly written and unedited documents as my internship duties. I read a post on the company website this morning that was so bad it nearly made me cry.

      Maybe you can find a job somewhere that will work into your internship program? I wish I had a better suggestion.

    12. Anonymous

      Yep, I did 400 hours of fieldwork for grad school in one semester while working (almost) full-time. I talked to my boss and coworkers in advance to make sure they would be supportive of me rearranging my work schedule, which they were. I used up all of my saved vacation time and even took a few unpaid days. I also actively tried to create opportunities to do fieldwork hours outside of regular office hours, even if it meant working 8 hours, then driving to my internship site for an hour or 2 at night.

    13. TheSnarkyB

      Don’t have time to read all the responses, so sorry if this is repetitive. Honestly, if there’s any chance you can get loans for the semester or find some other way, I’d say do it. I have no family support for school either, but I don’t want o fck myself over by not getting enough out of it, not learning enough to succeed, etc. later. Based on the extreme amount that you need to learn in those internships, in addition to the emotional and psychological processing required to actually live and feel okay, do not do a full time job with the internship (aren’t yours 20 hrs a week too? not gonna work). DEFINITELY don’t do 2 part time jobs + internship. 1 part time, maybe if you have to, but try to give more weight to the decompression time you’ll need. It takes conscious effort for me to plan that time in because I did not grow up in an SES group that did things like that. You worked as hard as you had to and did as much as you could to make ends meet. And working hard did not include or mean sitting down at the end of the day to think about how you were feeling.

      1. TheSnarkyB

        Wait – it also makes a difference if you have to take classes as well. in my program, you take 3 classes + 20 hours/week of internship, so working a full time job would be absolutely impossible.

        What about looking at state regulations and seeing if you can get an internship that’s paid or with a stipend? They are so so few and far between though so I’d say give yourself a whole extra cycle to find it (which may mean networking for it more than a year in advance).

    14. Clerk I

      Thank you for your suggestions, everyone.

      I currently work two part time jobs at a Community College (not where I’m taking classes), and I don’t even make enough to be able to pay rent on an apartment. I am looking for full time work so that I don’t have to work 12+ hr days and not have enough money to make ends meet, as one position pays so little, and the other is on non-negotiable contract.

      I still have a few more months before I have to figure this out. I’m hoping I can use one of your many suggestions to help me in this.

  3. AmyNYC

    (I asked this under a different question, but it makes more sense here. Sorry for the double post!)
    The term “architect” is technically reserved for registered/licensed architects, but in practice people use “Junior Architect” for someone who is in the process of becoming licensed while doing the work of an architect, rather than “intern” (which NCARB would say is technically correct) because intern leads to confusion between a full-time professional and a part-time student .
    Any other architects want to weigh in?
    Un-licensed architects, what do you call yourself on a resume?

    1. Lizabeth

      Opps, wrong place for the above…

      BUT I did ask the SO (works in an architect firm) His comment was:
      Design Professional or Architectural Designer for someone that isn’t licensed. His firm uses Architectural Designer in their presentations to get work. And he uses that on his resume as well.

    2. Kim

      I am an Architect, and technically you aren’t supposed to anything with the word Architect in it, including Architectural designer. Technically, until you get liscensed, you are an Intern. And you can’t say Intern Architect either. Generally people will just use the word Designer. However, If sending a resume to another firm, you can just use the title of your role, such as Job Captain, or Project Manager, or Design Team member because we all know what it means.

  4. Good_Intentions

    Seeking opinions: Is it better to apply for jobs that you know you’re over-qualified for vs. those that you are under-qualified for?

    I’ve had two interviews this week. The first was for a position that focused on work where I have very little experience, and I was found to be wanting during the job interview. Meanwhile, the second is entry-level position that focuses on data entry and basic phone calls.

    During both meetings, I was given feedback indicating that my resume reflected too much or not enough experience in the required fields. So, I ask which situation is better?

    1. Corporate Drone

      If it’s a choice between the two, my vote is for the one where you do not meet all of the criteria. An employer is very skeptical of an overqualified candidate applying for a position. If you don’t meet all of the qualifications, you position yourself as being ready to take the next step in your career, learn new things, etc.

    2. Wilton Businessman

      It depends. I think the key is to not stretch too far on either end. In other words, don’t be looking for an entry-level job if you are clearly not entry-level.

      Personally, I believe that reaching up says a lot more about a person than reaching down.

      1. Runon

        I agree strongly with this. If someone was reaching up within reason that would seem to be they were interested in growing. Same with sideways. Reach sideways go for it. But reaching down I’d expect a good reason for. They are certainly out there, but I’d be more interested in the reason.

    3. LMW

      I think you’re better off aiming higher…or at least that was my recent experience. I sent off a bunch of resumes for a variety of positions. The one that were more of a lateral move or a step down, I felt like they made me jump through hoops, the pay was lower, etc. The ones that were a little bit a of a stretch, they acknowledged the stretch, but really seemed willing to consider that I was ready for the move. And I got a lot better response rate from the stretch jobs than the ones I was overqualified for.
      It might just depend on where you are in your career etc. Even two years ago I was in the no-man’s-land you described. Everyone thought I was over or under qualified and I couldn’t get anywhere. But in the most recent job search, there was definitely a switch (I just hit the 10-year mark as a post-college full time employee…I wonder if that’s the difference.)

      1. Good_Intentions

        LMW:

        Thanks for your comments.

        I am transitioning from a career in print journalism to nonprofit development. To date, I have done extensive event planning, community outreach, volunteer recruitment and begun volunteer grant writing.

        Additionally, I completed a seven-part grant writing program with the local United Way, earned a certification in nonprofit management and electronic marketing and am volunteering for a child literacy group and continuing to attend workshops and webinars on fundraising and grant writing and other nonprofit-oriented programs.

        All of these experiences are ignored for more entry-level positions and scrutinized by higher level positions.

        Interviews for higher-level positions usually end with me being told that I need more experience and that the organization lacks the time to allow me to grow into it.

        Sigh. “No man’s land” indeed! Hopefully, someone somewhere will hire me for something!

        1. Leah

          Have you thought about nonprofit marketing/communications? Depending on the organizational structure, sometimes these positions fall under development, and may still involve grant writing in addition to newsletters, annual reports and other communications roles.

          1. Good_Intentions

            Leah:

            My first choice is applying for marketing/communications with nonprofits. However, most orgs are seeking people who can help them secure funding either via grants– community, county, state and federal– or through appeals to individual donors.

            I continue to study public relations and I keep my writing skills sharp by blogging about nonprofit events. None of my interviews care about this though.

            Instead, the questions revolve around grant writing experience and fundraising asks.

            At this point, I am open to anything. I am continuing my education and applying for jobs via Simplyhired, United Way website, Idealist, Craigslist, the state website, CareerBuilder and even newspaper ads.

            It’s just a very competitive market, and good intentions alone are not enough for anyone to get a job. Sigh. I’ll keep plugging away and reading AAM, of course!

            1. LMW

              Have you considered moving into a short-term gateway job? Since you are currently in print journalism, you could move to corporate communications for two years and then move to non-profit. (In a lot of companies, CSR (corporate social responsibility) is a huge part of communications jobs. In my first job outside publishing, I spent a lot of time working on projects related to our CSR efforts. I could definitely see that type of role being a bridge.) I think your volunteer efforts will pay off in the end too…it just might be a matter of accumulating more time with them.

              1. Good_Intentions

                LMW:

                Thanks for the show of support!

                My journalism career ended four years ago, and I’ve been active with several nonprofits with varying missions since then.

                Most of my job application success has come from applying for development assistant, fundraising and grant writing positions. Unfortunately, I have not yet garnered enough experience to take on paid roles for most nonprofits. The executive directors with whom I interview want a portfolio full of writing samples for grant proposals and fundraising letters that brought in funds to the org.

                I refuse to give up, so it’s back to writing grants and looking for fundraising opportunities.

                Again, I appreciate your kind words and thoughtful suggestions. It’s really helpful after the trying week of job applications I’ve had.

                1. LMW

                  Well, I know how hard it is to change paths like this. It sounds like you are doing everything you can. Sometimes it just takes time. Hopefully not much more!

        2. COT

          You don’t live near Minneapolis, MN do you? My organization is looking for someone like you!

          Have you tried smaller organizations? Often times those roles require people to do more, so the breadth of your experience could give you an edge. Also, if you’d be open to being a volunteer coordinator try applying for that kind of role. Because there’s less of a clear-cut career/education path into that position, they’re often more open to hiring candidates new to the field or with a unique career path, as long as you have a modest amount of relevant experience (which you do). In many places volunteer managers are in the same department as development and communications, so doors could open that way.

          1. Good_Intentions

            COT:

            No, sorry I’m in another midwestern state.

            I will take up your suggestion in my ongoing search.

            Thanks!

      2. MJ

        This!!!! I’ve been applying for stretch jobs and I was a finalist for both. The person with “more direct experience” won out with both jobs but I felt that I was treated as a strong candidate because of personality, work ethic, etc.

        The jobs that were more lateral have been low balling salaries and doing unnecessary prying for my salary history.

        I HATE HATE HATE jobs that ask for my salary history… employers know how much they want to pay candidates. It shouldn’t be based on how much I made.

        1. Judari

          THIS!!!

          Same experience. I only have one year of experience out of college and was paid pretty well for that one year. Jobs that claim 0-1 year I have been getting lowballed for as well when its industry standard to pay what I was making before. Jobs with 2-3 years experience I have been a top candidate for.

    4. Christine

      I think aiming a bit higher shows a willingness to grow whereas many employers worry that those who aim low will quickly want to jump ship.

      1. Jamie

        When I was last looking I never got one reply for jobs at levels below where I was working – out of 100s of resumes. As soon as I started applying at things slightly above where I was I got call backs. Fwiw.

    5. EngineerGirl

      It is better to stretch up. But if you can’t do that then try to find an additional area where you can add value to the company. In short, do the low-level job “and”.

      The only time I can see stepping down would be if you are changing industries and there might be holes in your knowledge base.

    1. AdAgencyChick

      Let’s see…I didn’t witness this directly, but boy did I hear about it from others. This editor, when the team was in heavy crunch-time mode and was working a weekend, showed up high and swore loudly at other team members. When he was fired on the spot, he drop-kicked his laptop down the hall.

      And there was the account manager who would show up to work dressed like she was going to the club — V-necks down to there, five-inch spike-heeled gladiator sandals, fake-n-bake spray tan, everything skintight, the works. I think I’ve mentioned this in another thread somewhere, but one day we had “pajama day” at work where people were invited to wear their pajamas in the office if they wanted to. She decided an appropriate “pajamas” outfit was a caftan cut so low in front that I could see the band of her bra. Not the straps…the BAND.

    2. Sarah

      My coworker has stormed off twice in the 8 months that she has worked at my nonprofit. She threatens to quit (for silly reasons) and does not come into work for 2 days. Because of the lack of management, she still has a job and received no verbal or written reprimand.

      1. Lily

        I certainly agree that it is possible that a bad manager would ignore the issues, but how do you know? A good manager would keep the reprimand private and people don’t usually go around broadcasting that they have been reprimanded.

        1. Sarah

          For two reasons, our boss shares everything with the staff, including the frustrations with this staff member. Second, I have (unfortunately) become her confidant. She once even came to me about salary negotiations with my coworker (who is also a friend of mine outside of work)! It was extremely awkward.

          1. Sarah

            I’ll add that I never realized how much management matters! I’ve always had such good managers that I never noticed the difference a bad manager makes.

      2. Anonymous

        And I thought my situation was bad. I had a coworker who would regularly storm out of meetings and threaten to stop doing work if she didn’t like something. For example, there was the time that she announced that she would not learn the company’s new calendar system and therefore would not be taking any more appointments.

    3. Malissa

      I have a coworker in another department that applied for my position. Instead of addressing the cover letter to anybody in this department she addressed it to HR. Then when we flipped the position from internal to external (due to lack of good candidates) she flipped a gasket in the direction of the HR person. She also proceeded to email me to inform me she would be out of the office and wouldn’t be available for interviews this week.

    4. ThursdaysGeek

      Unfortunately, I think maybe he did have mental issues. He was a friend, someone my husband had worked with, and I recommended him for a job at my company. Then, when I got a referral bonus and took him out for lunch, he decided that the friendship was a sham and I had only referred him for the money. Things went downhill from there, and I was hauled into HR for smiling at him in the hall (I smile at everyone). He said it was because I was trying to be friends with him again, and I was told to not smile at him!

      He’s the only person I’ve wondered if he might bring a gun to work. I’ve lost track of him, but I really hope he has gotten help.

    5. Anonymous

      One of my former co-workers threatened to punch my boss in the face and then threatened to kill me. At the holiday party. When I was “the new girl.” I actually e-mailed Alison about it, but I don’t know if I ever got a response (made a fake name/e-mail address for anonymity sake and then forgot the password. So — sorry if you DID respond, Alison!)

      He ended up getting fired about a week later — not actually for getting rip-roaring drunk and threatening his co-workers at the party, but because a few nights later he brought his friends into our office building and trashed the CEO’s office in the middle of the night. And this was his third warning, because he had done the same thing before (only to another co-workers office) AND he had once pushed another co-worker of mine through a plate glass window at an offsite (but still office sanctioned) happy hour. It all made a lot more sense when I was cleaning out his office, I found about 20 bottles of vicodin and a half-finished handle of Jack Daniels.

      He clearly had some serious addiction issues. And my (still relatively new) job miiiiiiiight have a few management issues. Possibly.

        1. Anonymous

          Longtime friends with the owner. They’re one of those businesses that really prides themselves on being a “family” and they take it way more literally than the average business.

    6. Corporate Drone

      I have a coworker who was born and raised in California, but who chooses to speak using an affected Chinese accent. She doesn’t wear a bra, but she does like to wear an Anthony Keedis-style wool hat around the office. She recently lost about 50 lbs., but has yet to purchase any clothing in her new size. Instead, she uses a rope (yes, a rope) to secure her pants around her waist.

      She will also make it a point to tell you that the leather pouch she wears around her neck contains the cremated remains of her late dog.

    7. Corporate Drone

      About 15 years ago, I was working for a big international company at its big suburban campus. One day, the repo man showed up for one of the Big Important Director’s 7 series BMW. The spectacle in the parking lot was one to behold.

      1. The Other Meg

        I don’t generally enjoy laughing at someone’s public humiliation, but depending on how much of a jerk the director was, I might have enjoyed that quite a bit.

    8. kbeers0su

      I once had a male coworker who discussed the yeast infection that he had in his nether regions with his female assistant. He also liked to discuss who from within our department he could get in bed. He took his work computer home with him every night, supposedly for “security reasons” (I don’t want to know what that really means). And he used to leave in the middle of the day every day to go for a run. No, he was never fired.

    9. NBB

      I have two crazy interviewing stories!

      One lady we interviewed took off her shoes, and then sat crossed legged in the chair the whole time.

      Another lady dropped the f word during each stage of the interview, and with all the interviewers (manager and peers, senior manager, and CEO).

      1. EA

        After dropping an F bomb in an interview, how did they even get to the next stage of interviews?

    10. Windchime

      I posted separately about the co-worker who got caught with his pants down in a wiring closet (and didn’t get fired). The following story is about a different guy.

      Years ago, we used to have a network engineer who was definitely weird. He would wear weird outfits like red jeans and a gold lamé shirt to work(this was back in about 2001). One time he got called in at night to fix something network-related and he showed up in his pajamas. He must not have had brake lights on his car, because he got rear-ended 3 or 4 times during his short tenure and often had one of those big foam neck-braces on. He would fall asleep in his office chair due to painkillers from his neck injury. One time during a teleconference meeting, he laid down on the floor and started doing leg lifts and stretches because his back was hurting. On camera, in full view.

      He was a character. He had asked a woman out on a date to go to the Opera in Seattle, and was telling my co-worker about it. He was planning to wear a top hat and a cape to the opera. He never really quit his job or was fired; he just kind of quit showing up and finally we replaced him.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        “he got rear-ended 3 or 4 times during his short tenure and often had one of those big foam neck-braces on.”

        I don’t know why, but I can’t stop laughing at this.

      2. Chris

        To be fair, McCaw Hall is a really good opera house. Although, I feel it is best off just reading the plot, and then relaxing through the music. Trying to read the subtitles at the top while the actors sing gets straining.

        One of these days, I’ll get to watch the entire Ring cycle.
        Alas…that time is not now…

      3. Jamie

        One time he got called in at night to fix something network-related and he showed up in his pajamas.

        Nothing weird about this. Who are you to judge me?!

      4. Judari

        I thought this was really weird too and then you said Seattle and it wasn’t weird anymore, some Seattlites are just downright strange. (Living there for so long I can say that LOL).

    11. danr

      One of our programmers brought his boa constrictor to work. And it was not ‘take your pet to work day’…

      1. JessA

        If that had happened at my workplace, I would be making a case as to why I would like to work from home. I would prefer to not be anyone’s (or anything’s) breakfast. LOL!

    12. Unanimously Anonymous

      Eons ago before the earth cooled, I worked at a defense plant as an electronics technician in the engineering department. One of the design groups I worked with had a sleazy horn-dog male engineer, a real Leisure Suit Larry type. At one point, he fastened his intentions on the group’s admin, a very attractive 30ish lady named Shelley. At one point, he thought it a good idea to just come up to her desk and bluntly proposition her (the “F” word was an integral part of his approach). Shelley didn’t miss a beat…she smiled at him sweetly and said – just loud enough to be heard by ALL the guy’s co-workers – “No thanks, I already have one a**hole in my pants.”

  5. Sascha

    The paws!!! I want to touch his paws!!!!

    For those that do a lot of hiring…if you are hiring for a single position, what would you say the percentage of applications that are just flat-out wrong? Like the applicant just didn’t even look at the job title?

    I’m asking simply out of curiosity. I’m hiring for a position right now and out of about 30 applicants, 7 of them submitted an incorrect cover letter (wrong position or wrong company), which makes me wonder what went wrong. I know sometimes you can grab the wrong file, but this seems like a high amount. Or is that normal?

      1. AmyNYC

        I currently have a folder for each job and a file labeled “My Name_Resume” in that each folder; I can see grabbing the “My Name_Resume” from the wrong folder quite easily.
        Would it be off-putting to hiring managers to receive a file labeled “My Name_Resume_Your Company”?

        1. LouG

          After I apply to a job, I change the file name to “My Name_Cover Letter_Company” in my big folder of submitted cover letters. If I’m working on a new cover letter for a new application, I keep it as “My Name_Cover Letter” and this is how I always submit it. That way, when I go to attach the file, I know to always attach the file that just has my name and cover letter without the company name. Does that make sense? It’s something that’s worked for me!

          1. LouG

            Now that I’m reading yours again, it looks like you have a folder for each job you have applied to, where I just have one “Jobs” folder. Not sure if my trick will work for you!

            1. AmyNYC

              I like your trick, LouG!
              I feel like I’m over organizing – the folder for each job a pretty empty, just a screen shot of the posting, a working file and a PDF.

              1. LPBB

                I used to do it like LouG, but I’ve since switched over to something similar to your method, AmyNYC. I kind of feel like separate folders for each job is overkill, but my submitted jobs folder was just getting unwieldy and this adds a little more order to the chaos.

                I actually have it set up by employer and then I create another folder for each job. Largely that’s because my geographic area is saturated with federal contractors, so I have applied for multiple positions with the same “employer” over the past year.

                I usually save my resume and cover letter in each subfolder as Last Name_Position_Resume/Cover Letter. When I was doing it the other way, I kept having to come up with more complex file names to keep everything straight.

          2. twentymilehike

            This. I do this.

            Except I leave out the “My Name” part … because I know my name LOL Okay, joking aside, I usually do put “My Name Resume” and “My Name Cover Letter” when I email or upload my documents, but I save them with more descriptive terms on my computer for my own benefit. Sounds like a lot of work, but I think I rest better that way.

        2. Esra

          I always do My-Name_Resume_Your-Company. Then again, I’m only getting a 10% success rate for getting interviews, so I might not be the best choice to emulate!

        3. Judari

          I don’t see why it would to a reasonable hiring manager. They have to know they aren’t the only ones you are applying too if you are looking for work. If anything I would think seeing the company name in the cover letter or resume title would be a good thing. It would signify you took the time to customize your bid for candidacy for the specific company and position. That is something you are supposed to do anyway.

          I’ve never hired anyone but I would much rather read a CL that had my company name in the title and was customized to why the candidate would be a good fit for the company/position rather than a generic CL or even worse a CL that wasn’t even for the position!

        4. HR lady

          Sounds great to me – definitely a plus to know that you don’t just reuse the same exact cover letter & resume for each job. (Even if all you changed was the filename, still MUCH better than sending a resume labeled MyName.Resume.SomeOtherCompanyName

      2. Anonymous

        In the last position for which I was doing the hiring, a third of the applicants mis-read the job description and another third had little to no relevant experience (think lawyers applying to do specific sales) and/or did a poor job of explaining their interest and transferrable skills. The remaining third (from which we interviewed) had varying degrees of experience, and several of them had mistakes in their resumes/cover letters about job title/organization.

        So, par for the course from my admittedly limited experience.

    1. S.L. Albert

      My Company’s got about a 25% error rate. Our name is very misleading for our Company (indicates we are Chocolate Teapot Assemblers versus Chocolate Teapot Consulters), so it’s partially understandable, but on the other hand, our website spells out exactly what we do on the first page.

    2. Lisa M

      I’m hiring right now and out of 75 applicants only 13 were able to go on to phone screening — the rest literally had no experience in the area I am hiring for. I’d say 10 of them actually listed objectives for completely different roles.

      1. Sascha

        Thanks for your comments everyone, this is actually a quite new occurrence for this position. Of course, we always have people who don’t understand the job description (not completely their fault, the description is not that great), but these people are putting things like a completely different company and/or job title, which is clearly spelled out when going through the application, multiple times (I’ve been through this app system myself as an applicant). It makes sense to me that you might not change up the cover letter too much for a similar position at a different company (Chocolate Teapot Stylist vs. Chocolate Teapot Designer), but we’ve even gotten some people who are applying for stuff completely out of left field (Chocolate Teapot Stylist vs. International Sales Executive Director).

      2. Lynne

        Kind of blows my mind when people do that. I mean, why even bother applying when you’re going to make it so obvious that you barely glanced at the ad and are just sending out applications like they’re spam? A generic cover letter that goes on about how you want to work for our company doesn’t really go over so well when it’s addressed to a library…

        I guess they think quantity of applications means more than quality. At least it means less competition for the rest of us? :)

        1. Lindsay

          I feel like some people just apply for jobs just to apply. I don’t know if it has to do with unemployment benefits or what.

          When I got hired for my most recent position, I was told that the person hired directly before me worked one day and didn’t come back. The one before that didn’t show up for their orientation/filling out their new hire paperwork. Then this week we had another girl not show to fill out her new hire paperwork.

          It just boggles my mind. Why spend the time to fill out an application or submit a resume, interview with two people, tell them you accept the position, and then not actually show up for work (and not tell anybody that you don’t want the job anymore?)

    3. AP

      Pretty normal for me!

      Out of, lets say, 100 applicants, 50 of mine go straight into the “no” file for the obvious reasons: wrong job application, blatantly unqualified, didn’t write a cover letter or copy/pasted the same generic one, 1000 typos. 35 will go into a “maybe” file of people to re-look at when I feel like applications stop rolling in, and 15 will be potential “yeses.” When I have every categorized I’ll see if I can pick, like, 7 or 8for phone interviews and 3 for in-person. So I think you’re about average right now!

      I had one friend put up a job she thought would get hundreds of applicants, but she got 50-60 and of those, 45 of them were immediate no’s and all of the rest except one knocked themselves out of the running at phone screen stage for various reasons. She couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong – finally she sent the ad to recruiters she knew and even they were mystified. Luckily that one lone person worked out great!

    4. kbeers0su

      In hiring I’ve never gotten an incorrect resume/cover letter from a candidate. But I do often get cover letters with the name of the wrong organization on it (which lets me know where else they’re applying) and also quite a few resumes/cover letters from people who are in no way qualified and don’t even make an attempt to look like they might be. Like a guy who was licensed to repair boats applying for a position with us where he would be running a university residence hall. And he included no explanation as to how his skills/experience in boat repair might apply….

    5. perrik

      Sounds about right. When I was screening resumes, it felt like people looked at the job title and applied without looking at the description. We hired RNs in a specific non-clinical field (meaning they did not do hands-on patient care). It was entirely normal for us to have an applicant pool where half of the applicants were nursing aides or other health care aides (not RNs) and another quarter were RNs with zero experience in the specialty. So for every 20 applications, we’d get maybe 4 or 5 who met the minimum requirements – the rest just saw “Nurse” in the title and figured they were close enough.

      The real fun happened whenever we posted an opening for Nurse Manager. Apparently a lot of job seekers ran automatic searches for “manager” jobs and applied to all of them. Why yes, your experience as a Wendy’s shift manager looks very impressive, but “good with people” is not an adequate substitution for a master’s in nursing.

    6. Anonymous

      Yes, I’d agree that’s an usually high percentage with the wrong cover letter (I don’t know if it could have to do with your industry or the specific job?). But I would say I usually see well over 50% that are not qualified, didn’t even bother with the cover letter and are clearly just applying to every single job they see. Best example: a PhD in Biology with no work experience outside of a science research lab applying for a job as a psychological counselor.

    7. OR

      This could be the applicant tracking system’s fault. Our companies system only keeps the last file uploaded. So say the applicant applied for 5 jobs over the weekend… all the hiring managers would recieve the resume and cover letter for the last job they applied for… didn’t matter how much training I did on this, there were a few key managers that were offended because the applicant applied to multiple jobs and thought that meant that the applicant didnt care enough about *their* job or would email me and ask why I sent them the resume because it was obviosuly not for their open position.

  6. LT

    I recently heard (from our boss) that a colleague is about to be laid off and it got me thinking: given that it’s easier to find a job when you’ve already got one, how reasonable is it to ask that your company allow you to make it look like you’re still employed (on your resume) when you’re actually no longer on the payroll?

    1. Rob Bird

      I wouldn’t go that route. When we do reference checks we get the beginning/end dates of employment including (hopefully) your job performance.

      If you indicate to me that you are still employed and then I find out through the reference check that you were in fact let go prior to your interview, you have just lied to me and killed any any chance of me hiring you.

    2. Wilton Businessman

      Very unusual. Some companies structure their severance so you keep getting your paycheck for X periods and their employment records match the payroll. But that is rare.

      1. Corporate Drone

        When I was RIFed, my severance was paid out on the payroll cycle, but I was no longer on payroll, and The Work Number would verify that I was no longer an employee.

      2. Mike C.

        I know of companies who do this to comply with the WARN Act. Essentially their two months notice is given but they’re told not to come back to work.

    3. WorkIt

      Hijacking this to ask how terrible an idea it is to volunteer to be laid off first should the boss need to axe someone.

      1. Corporate Drone

        Depends on a lot of things. I volunteered for a layoff back in 2000. I was young, had no children, and the economy was red hot. Severance package for volunteers was more than generous, and I was only out of work for 2 1/2 months. My life circumstances now are such that I would not voluntarily leave a position without another one lined up.

      2. Lexy

        My mom did this when I was in high school (the ’90s) and the economy was SMOKING hot. Her company’s CEO got into some legal trouble that led to layoffs. They took volunteers for the first round and gave them a six month severance. My mom got a new job in less than a month. So it worked out great for her. Almost 20 years ago (OMG… that can’t be right… fuck getting oler)

      3. Ask a Manager Post author

        Be aware, though, that they won’t lay you off if your position is one they want to keep. If they want to cut your type of work anyway, this can work out well. But if they don’t, they won’t lay you off but you’ll have basically said you’d rather not be there, which generally doesn’t go down well. So you’ve got to know the lay of the land and how essential your job is considered to be.

        1. WorkIt

          There are four of us who do the same thing, but I could definitely see the higher ups wanting to trim the department one day, especially since they do seemingly random mass layoffs every few months. The company is wack.

      4. EngineerGirl

        Some friends are doing this, but they were planning to retire anyway. This way they get a severance package too. It still works out for the company though. The laid off people were on a pension plan so early retirement means a lower pension payout. Win/Win

  7. Jberry

    I’ve been in a few situations over the last year where I’ve been faced with the choice of correcting an interviewer and correcting my supervisors. Not correcting them leads to either the perception that I am incompetent, for the interview, or having a project go off the rails, for the supervisors. Any suggestions for when these situations come up in the future? (For the interview, I didn’t say anything, and for the project, I corrected by offering suggestions or saying things like, “it seems” or “I think for me” or “I was reading…” Ultimately, though, I just removed my supervisors from the opportunity to offer any substantive feedback on the project, since they didn’t know what they were talking about anyway. For non-technical issues, client relations, I kept them in the loop.)

    1. Wilton Businessman

      I like to use “maybe I misunderstood the context, but that’s not my understanding of how it works.”

  8. In Search of Etruscans

    Cute kitty.

    My question/problem is this. I was recently laid off from my manager position with a large international company, effective April 1. I am beginning to panic about the gaps in employment, because I know that many employers would rather see “I have a highly contagious flesh-eating bacteria” than multiple gaps on a resume.

    I was RIFed in 2002. I was pregnant at the time, and did not even bother looking for another job until my baby was 3 months old. It was very, very difficult to become reemployed with a 1 year gap on my resume. One year turned into two, and I finally went back to work full time in early 2004. As an aside, I was unable to enjoy my time home with my baby, as I was totally consumed by the need to get back to work. I deeply regret that.

    In late 2004, my husband died suddenly and unexpectedly. I was living out of state at the time, and I made the decision that I needed to relocate back to where my family and lifelong friends are. My company had an office in my home city, but the VP denied my request to work out of that office. I resigned after a year with that company.

    When I moved back, it took another year of a full time job search to secure my most recent position, where I had been for 7 years.

    So I now am unemployed, and have a resume with a 2 year gap, and a 1 year gap. Although I think the explanations are valid, I know that doesn’t come across when an employer (or Taleo) scans my resume. I am terrified that this bout of unemployment may also be protracted, resulting in yet another huge gap.

    I am not an irresponsible slacker, but I’m afraid that’s how it might look if you just saw me “on paper.”

    Advice is most welcome.

    1. Amanda

      I don’t have any advice, but I know how you feel. I have several year+ gaps in my resume, none due to firing/layoffs but due to the fact that I’ve never had a position that didn’t have a clear end date, and not being able to find a job after. I did recently land a job with my dream company, but again, it’s only temporarily and I’m terrified of not being able to find something long-term after the job ends.

      My sympathies as to the loss of your husband.

    2. Malissa

      7 years of recent employment negates the previous gaps. Especially because if asked you have very valid reasons.

      1. Wilton Businessman

        I agree, 7 years kind of trumps the other stuff. I would ask about the gaps, but I wouldn’t eliminate you from consideration because of them.

      2. AdAgencyChick

        Completely agree. I wouldn’t bat an eyelash at your previous gaps because of that — in fact, I might think “oh, maybe she did something unrelated and is only including relevant experience on her resume.” But I certainly wouldn’t question your ability or willingness to stay at a job after a seven-year stint, even if you were laid off, because…seven years!

    3. RB

      My deepest sympathies on the loss of your husband.

      I had a 5 year gap after my son was born. I decided to stay home until he was in school (this was in 2002). I explained the gap in my cover letter and it wasn’t a problem.

      Now with the economy still in the tank, I see gaps in resumes all the time. As an HR person and hiring manager, I understand the economy and family issues that come up. However, I would still want to know what the candidate has done during the gaps. Are your skills up to date, did you take classes or volunteer somewhere? That can make a big difference to me as opposed to someone who spent their time watching daytime tv. If it was a matter of relocating and getting settled, perfectly valid.

      My advice is to address these gaps in your cover letter and let them know what you have been doing during that time, especially to keep your skills current. You do have longevity in positions which is a total positive! Childcare and life issues are perfectly reasonable explanations.

      On a side note: One of my best hires, was a woman who had been unemployed a year and a half. During that time, she volunteered at a local food bank, picked up litter in her neighborhood daily and mentored kids after school to improve their reading skills. She’s now been with me 2 years and I’ve promoted her twice.

      Good luck to you!

      1. Corporate Drone

        Why would she want to address gaps in employment in her cover letter when the most recent gap is from over 7 years ago? I don’t see how that would behoove her in any way. Also, with a recent 7 year stint at the same company, I don’t think it matters what she was doing when she was unemployed in 2003.

        1. RB

          Because there are 2 of them and because if she doesn’t address them it can look worse than it really is, especially since she is unemployed again. All it takes is about 2 sentences in a cover letter.

    4. Kerry

      I am so, so sorry to hear about your loss.

      I agree that a 7-year stint of recent employment outweighs gaps, particularly ones that can be explained by things like maternity leave.

    5. twentymilehike

      I agree with the others about the 7 year stint trumping the gaps.

      But mostly I just wanted to say, UGH Taleo … I feel you’re pain. Good luck to you on your search!

      1. Josh S

        Screw Taleo. I have not yet had a good experience with that piece of software, and it’s to the point where I almost (not quite, but almost) refuse to apply to a company that uses it. Waste of time, IMO. I’ve never gotten a callback from a Taleo application (unless I first applied directly with a contact in the company).

        I am pretty sure the code looks something like:

        IF $user_Submit = True
        DEL $user_File
        ELSE DEL $user_File

        1. twentymilehike

          Waste of time, IMO. I’ve never gotten a callback from a Taleo application (unless I first applied directly with a contact in the company).

          AGREED. Once I spend probably an hour and a half filling out a WAAAAAY too detailed Taleo application, and immediately after submitting it, I received a message that said the position was no longer open. That was the last time I filled one out. So. Frustrating.

  9. Yup

    For the first time in my career, I’m in the position where lots of people are contacting me for career & job help. I work in a niche nonprofit field that happens to be especially appealing to new grads and people changing careers, for whatever reason. My very small company is one of few in the field in this region. As a result, I now encounter several requests a month (emails, texts, LinkedIn) for informational interviews, job leads, career advice, etc. from former colleagues and classmates, acquaintances, and even strangers.

    Does anyone have advice for managing this onrush thoughtfully, kindly, and in a way that’s truly helpful to the asker and my company? I really do want to help people out—especially as payback on all those who helped me forward in my own career—but as an introvert, I’m finding the influx exhausting. Especially the asks from people who are largely unqualified and seem more interested in the idea of the work, rather than the reality.

    1. Colette

      Can you respond and ask them what their specific questions are before you commit to spending too much time on the request? That should weed out those who just have a vague idea that they might be interested.

    2. Kate

      I completely agree about helping people out where possible. I wouldn’t have gotten my first job without people spending time with me on informational interviews, resume help, and introductions. Now I pay it forward when I can.

      That said, you don’t owe everyone everything. Figure out what kinds of help you can easily provide and what contexts are least exhausting for you. You can set the terms. Maybe a scheduled phone call would be easiest for you, or asking them to come by your office for a 20 minute discussion, or replying to emailed questions. If there are questions you frequently get, it could be easiest in the long run to put together a one page FAQ you can copy-and-paste from. If there are blogs or websites about your field you can direct people to, that’s helpful. Not a big time commitment for you, but it allows them to explore the field more. (And helps you gauge their seriousness by whether or not they actually follow your suggestions.)

      If you’re impressed by someone, then you can offer to spend more time on them, by reviewing their resume, connecting them with another person in your field, or sending them job leads.

      1. kbeers0su

        I like the idea of the FAQs. I think that would be an easy way to get your basic advice/insight to anyone who asks, without putting too much on you. For some folks, that might be more than they’re expecting. You could also include a quick “let me know if you have any specific questions I didn’t answer” at the end for those who do.

    3. Runon

      Depending on how you operate I’d have a standard something you are willing to do. For a while I was in a nonprofit and had a lot of things like informational interview requests etc. I would agree to meet for 15 minutes for coffee (at a local coffee shop across the street from my office). Anyone who didn’t show up didn’t get a second chance. Most people got what they needed in 15 minutes, I generally tried to put them on a list I had to send out job and informational resources that came across my desk.

      For me even as an extreme introvert the 15 minute face to face was easier than emails because I’d dread the next email. If you are going to do email I’d say that you can answer 3-5 questions and limit it to that and not create too much of a long term dialogue which can be more difficult.

      It might also be good to have some resources: try this professional association, join this linkedin group, sign up for this email list serve and give those out when you are too busy, or just unable to deal with the crop of excited young people who want to talk to you about the grand changes they could make to make the world a better place.

    4. Lexy

      Could you put together an information sheet? Like an FAQ or something that would address most people’s questions.

      I mean that kind of sounds like a lot of working, but if you could do it and address the questions of say 60-75% of the people contacting you, then you’d be free to have coffee with some of the other new entrants to your field.

      I would definitely work to make sure that you’re only spending time with thoughtful people who won’t waste your time… maybe email them a couple of questions to gauge their interest/how much effort they put in on their own before contacting you.

      1. Anonymous

        Reply to a couple requests with some good info in writing.

        Then look at what you’ve sent and generalize it into a standard response. Send it with “Thanks for your interest. Below is some general information I hope you’ll find useful.”

    5. Kaz

      Many of these people probably think they should be “networking” but don’t actually know what they want to know. I agree that saying you’ll answer a list of questions they send, or having a very short coffee, is about as much as you should offer. I imagine some of them are also just indirectly asking for a job lead without trying to be forward about it, and they may not actually have questions for you.

    6. AP

      I get a lot of these too – one thing thats nice (if having a personal benefit would make it easier to motivate yourself) is that at least some of these people go into my mental “farm team” of potential people to contact if an opening comes up or if I need a temp. So it’s pretty much just networking in the other direction from where you’ve been – and it’s realllllly helpful to be able to pull out 3 names of people who have impressed you when you need someone, rather than having to look on Idealist or Craigslist.

      My ground rules are: always over the phone or email (no in-person meetings if I can help it), I make my time constraints clear at the beginning (“Okay, fair warning, I have to be on another call in 30 minutes.”) and I always ask them to prepare 4-5 specific questions before the call. What’s great about that last part is that many times they ask things that I would have never thought to touch on in my canned “this is what we do” speech.

      Oh, and if someone is rude or pushy, I ignore them. Limits!

  10. Rachel

    Interview this afternoon! It’s the first one since I made some changes to my resume, and I’m kind of intrigued to see how they perceive me based on that version of my resume.

    In short, I’m unemployed right now, but I do have a major volunteer commitment that I’ve been able to expand beyond the originally planned evenings & weekends only to helping out in the office regularly during the week and taking on projects that my employed peers don’t have time for. It’s been nearly four months since I was laid off. I decided that I was going to eliminate the short “volunteer experience” section at the end of my resume and just list this at the top of my experience section, with the bullet points making it clear that this is part time/volunteer but allowing myself more space to expand on what I’m doing. Before this, the top item on my resume had dates that ended Dec 2012, and now I have a “XX – present” on top.

    Do you guys have thoughts on this? Obviously I’m going to roll with it for this interview, but I can still change it back later if I wanted to. I’m spending as much time on this volunteer commitment as I did on some part-time internships and jobs in college that are also on my resume, and I like that my resume no longer starts with something that ended four months ago. However, I do worry about whether it makes it look like I have a commitment that will delay my ability to start a job, when I’m basically available immediately- I would scale back to the evenings & weekends expectations that everyone else is doing.

      1. Rachel

        Would you believe that this is the 14th organization that I’m interviewing with, either phone or in person, in four months? I’m having absolutely no trouble getting interviews- I’m just not getting the jobs!

        1. Colette

          It sounds to me like you might want to look at your interview skills. It may just be bad luck, but it’s worth seeing if you have room to improve there.

    1. HSTeacher

      I write questions for national boards–volunteer position–but its listed in my experiences section. This position is heavily related to my career field. I do still have a volunteer section because I do volunteer with a few organizations but those aren’t listed in my experience section–i.e. I’m a pet foster mommy (love the cat above) so that’s in my volunteer section but isn’t directly related to my job.

  11. Oxford Comma

    Is it odd that when I watch TV shows like Mad Men that I think about what Alison might say? Last week’s episode made me wish that Harry or Joan had written in to her so I could hear her take on how a situation should have handled it.

      1. LMW

        Me too. Oxford commas rule.
        And thanks for making that vague enough to not spoil it for those of us who don’t have cable and just finished season four on Netflicks. :)

    1. Jennifer O

      Not odd at all. I often find myself doing this too.

      I remember a while ago (perhaps a few years ago?), there was talk amongst commenters that Alison should do exactly this sometimes for fun (e.g., Alison or commenters could write the “OP letter” from Harry or Joan, then Alison could weigh in).

      1. Anon right now

        I think there was at least one post involving a fictional character, although it was from a book. One of the more recent Sue Grafton novels.

      1. A Bug!

        I would love to see a series of posts with both questions and answers written by Alison, except the question is written from the point of view of a fictional character.

        It would make a really great, topical contest! Turn on 100% comment moderation so people can use the comment field to guess who the fictional character is, and a winner drawn from the correct answers. (And then all the incorrect answers pushed through moderation afterward so people can enjoy others’ thought processes.)

    2. Meg

      Joan doesn’t strike me as the type of person to ask someone else for advice :) Not that I don’t love her, obviously.

  12. Toya

    I am a fairly recent (Dec. 2011) college graduate who was fortunate enough to secure employment as a receptionist in this crazy economy right after graduation. I took my job knowing that I needed to be able to pay my bills, and the hope that I could advance within the company. However I have been here for a year now, and the office culture (in my dept.) is something I’m having a hard time dealing with. I deal with rude co-workers, a dysfunctional department, and a manager who won’t stand up to them, even with proof and HR telling him to!!! That is really discouraging to me because I work extremely hard, and have been given a bonus (within 3 months) and a promotion and raise (at about 10 months), but I’m still unhappy. The promotion is to a higher level receptionist, but my boss doesn’t want me to let my co-worker know because she’s been at the company longer and there will be animosity towards me because of that. I’m almost positive I was given a promotion to encourage me to stay, but I have greater aspirations than being a receptionist. However, it’s hard for me to be happy about something that I am not supposed to share because it will hurt someone’s feelings. I am really starting to debate if I should stick out this job until I can be transferred to a different department that I know doesn’t have this type of dysfunction, or if I should just keep moving to another job??

    1. Colette

      I’d start pursuing either a transfer or a new job. It sounds like you’ve been there almost a year and a half, and it can take a while for you to find something else.

    2. LMW

      What’s the harm in looking now? (Aside from the fact that it does take time.) Think of it this way: Right now, you can be selective. You have a job. You might have the option of transferring to another department. You don’t have to apply to any old job – you can try to find the right job. That’s a good situation to be in, even if your job is really frustrating right now.
      Sorry you are stuck in a dysfunctional situation, but just think of all the “don’ts” you are learning. And crazy stories you’ll have to share later in your career. I hope you find something better soon!

      1. RLS

        THIS. I am employed in my field, albeit underemployed, but employed all the same. Every. Single. Day. Is unbelievably stressful and I am often left trying not to pull my hair and rock back and forth in the corner mumbling about crazy management and business ownership. Dysfunction would be an improvement in my situation.

        But it’s a job, it’s in my field, and I’ve got two great references out of it. And my job search, while painfully slow (starting to pick up…) lets me be picky and devote time to actually finding the right job. In the meantime at least most of my bills are kind of paid :)

    3. E.R

      How about both? Start looking for a new job, aim high, and keep working hard at the current job and exploring opportunities for promotion to a better department. See what works out first. I’ve done that myself (took a small promotion at old job I didnt much like but eventually ended up moving on)

    4. EngineerGirl

      This is a sad truth that I had to learn. The people define the job, and the technical part of it comes second. It doesn’t matter how amazing the project is, if the people and dynamics are weird, you won’t be happy.

      Start looking for a better job. Now that you have one it will be easier to find the next. And you can always say no to job offers.

    5. Unanimously Anonymous

      Toya, are you willing to consider doing a hitch in one of the military services? You’re a college grad, and assuming you’re in your twenties and able to meet the medical qualifications, you’d likely be able to get into officer-candidate school. For the vast majority of military personnel, the service doesn’t involve 80-pound rucksacks and roadside bombs – instead it can teach you skills that can seriously enhance a resume. If I were in your shoes, I’d likely look first at the Navy or Air Force, with a view towards possibly becoming a supply officer. The total pay for a junior officer starting out (including extra allowances for housing and subsistence) is probably in the low $40K’s – definitely better than most non-STEM grads will find these days. And “Supply and Logistics Officer, overseeing a staff of 20” is going to look a lot better on a future job application than “Receptionist.”

  13. CatAnon

    I have several dilemmas, but I’ll go with this one for now.

    So here’s the background: I work for a company that I’ve been with since day one. I was part of a much larger company, but my location, along with a few others, were purchased by a holding company and a new company was created. That was 13 years ago. I’ve basically worked my way up from a part-time frontline worker to a full-time member of senior management. We are now just two locations and we have less than 20 employees. As we have had no luck in raising the capital we need to continue on, there’s a real possibility that we will either cease to exist in the next year, or will be sold to another company.

    Things have been very stagnant for the last few years as we try to keep trudging on. It’s been really hard to keep up my motivation and excitement when there’s nothing going on except to keep the status quo. So as a result, I’m always dreaming about what my next career will be if we don’t make it. I’m having a difficult time mailing down exactly what I would want to do. Part of me, the one that wants to be safe, says to just stick with what I know, but I loathe the idea of working for a big company again. There’s just so much more to learn at a small company, much more to get my hands dirty with. Another part of me, the logical part, says I should pick what I really enjoy about my job now and try to find a close match or something I can grow into. And of course the adventure seeker says to change careers completely and pursue something like being a chef or cake baker.

    Something else I worry about is having to interview after all these years. If I count my time with the previous company, I’ve been here 17 years. That’s a long time. I worry that people will see me as being afraid of change or that I’ve been living in a bubble, not in the real world.

    Has anyone else been in this situation? Any advice?

    1. LMW

      Not exactly the same situation, but I was with a stagnant company for 7 years, and left after spending a year worried I’d be laid off. I moved into a field where I could use the skills I’d acquired in my old industry but where there was room for growth and learning new things (publishing to corporate communications). It was a nice change because I had somethings where I felt really confident in my skills and experience, but I still had the chance to take my career in a new direction.
      My mom was in the same situation re: interviews a few years ago: we just practiced all the time. I’d ask, she’d answer, then I’d critique. Probably most helpful if you have someone to practice with whose judgement you trust and you are willing to listen to their feedback and if they have hiring experience.

    2. Runon

      I think this might be a really good time for actually informational interviews. Look at what you enjoy about the job and reach out to your network, let people know you are interested in exploring other things, still early and casual. Have these conversations. I think that they can help you figure out what you want and get you comfortable with something that is more interviewey.

      And you might have been with the same company but it sounds like your job has changed over time and that helps the being afraid of change question.

    3. Mike C.

      To be perfectly honest, the whole “if you spend too long somewhere it means you’re stagnating” really feels like a reaction to everyone else having to change jobs every few years.

      It’s clear that you were consistently advancing these past several years, so it’s clear to me that you aren’t stagnant. You’ll have to come up with a good reason why you’re leaving, but other than that I think you’ll be fine.

      1. RB

        This.So.Much.

        The economy has had so much to do with me staying in my current job for the last 5 years. I’m sure I’m not alone.

      2. CatAnon

        Actually, I never even thought about it making me stagnant…until I read it here somewhere. I’d never thought that maybe another employer would see me as anything other than a loyal employee who likes her job. Even since I saw it here, it’s had me thinking, wondering if I’ve been here too long. Basically, I’m “that person” who knows where the box of tapes from the system conversion ended up, how they got there, who touched them, etc. And I know all the little tricks to doing X, Y, and Z that aren’t written down anywhere. So when someone wants to know or find something obscure from 13 years ago, I’m that go-to person.

      3. CatAnon

        I meant to add that I’m likely not leaving here unless we actually go under. If we get the funds we need, things will pick up very quickly. I don’t mean that as “I’m scared to leave”, it’s more that I feel a huge sense of loyalty to my boss who is the one who gave me a gazillion opportunities over the last 13 years. And I realize how good I have it, in that my hands are into everything and can really get involved in anything I choose to, I can work from home when needed, I don’t have to punch the time clock, I get time off whenever needed, etc. I’d like to stick around as long as I can until I know for sure what’s going to happen. If we are bought by another company I would likely stick with that until I find something else. And that’s where my fears come in about what will I do, what should I do, what do I actually WANT to do.

    4. CatAnon

      Thanks for the advice. In the event things come to an end here, I’m really leaning towards figuring out my favorite things I do now, and then finding a way to incorporate those things into my next job. I’d still love to be a chef or something like that, but considering I can barely make myself cook now, I’ll hold off. ;)

      1. Windchime

        I was thinking about the stagnation thing just last night. I was at my previous employer for 22 years, but I held 6 or 7 positions over those years and steadily advanced, career-wise. My company was quite a bit bigger than yours is, but I also had a lot of history in my head and that made me very valuable ( and promotable) to my ex-employer. It also made me desirable to my current employer, who recruited me away from the ex-job 2 years ago. So to make a long story short–I don’t think you have to worry about stagnation.

  14. Yvi

    I was kinda waiting for this thread because I had questions but now I got a job offer today and will accept and sign the contract on Monday. I have to hand in my resignation by Tuesday, so it’s all a bit complicated.

    Finding a job was easier than I expected, but I am in a country with a lack of IT people, so I only wrote 4 applications and turned down the first job offer.

    Anyway, how do you go about getting an appointment with your boss to talk about the resignation? I have to send it to HR by mail and I worry about it reaching them and them calling my boss before I can talk to him, but we also don’t work in the same building and he’s pretty busy, especially on Monday morning… The letter would reach HR either Monday or Tuesday morning depending on when I send it, but Tuesday is cutting it really close.

    Any tips? I have never resigned before.

    1. Malissa

      I just knocked on my Boss’s door and said can we talk for a minute. But then it wasn’t a surprise I was resigning either.

    2. The IT Manager

      I would just call up my supervisor and tell him, but that’s the kind of relationship I have with my supervisor. When I need to talk about something that will take a while, I just send out an Outlook meeting invite. Do you normally speak with your boss on a daily or weekly basis?

      1. Yvi

        Nope, only monthly. I might try the phone route and hope I catch him before HR does. I am just really not good with phones.

        1. COT

          Maybe try a short phone call, then (write down what you want to say). Follow up via email to get into the more in-depth discussion about the transition plan.

    3. Yvi

      After a few hours of consideration, I guess I’ll send the letter so it reaches HR on Monday and call his assistant early on Monday so that I know when his first open slot is – I know he has an appointment right when he gets in at half past eight. If all else fails I will try calling.

  15. Evan the College Student

    Good news – I need to change my handle in a couple weeks, because I’m graduating! I’ve got a job lined up with Large Software Company starting in July; until then, I’m taking a couple months off to read some good books and try writing a novel.

    I’m looking forward to starting work, and I’ll definitely keep reading AAM to help!

    1. Good_Intentions

      Evan:

      Congrats on securing a job!!

      If you don’t mind, can you provide some details on what you’ll be doing?

      Again, way to go on finding a position! Best of luck with everything.

  16. Research

    What on earth possesses applicants to submit cover letters that say things like “I have no restrictions on my work hours” and “salary negotiable or optional”? I have a hard time reading these (in research, which is already fraught with ethical issues) as anything other than “I have no idea how to value my own time and expertise.”

    These are doctoral-level applicants. Can anyone shed light onto the thought behind this process?

    1. Anonymous

      It’s usually because they were taught by their college career centers and other people that they have to be flexible in order to increase their chances of landing the job. I was fed that throughout my life and in college, so I would put that on applications.

      I believe it’s more acceptable when it’s entry-level or it’s for a low-wage, part-time job. Other than that, they have to evaluate their skills and experience, plus do research to find out what the going rate is for. But it’s pretty common to see.

    2. Anon

      Most people don’t know how to write cover letters. I bet most of us who read this site would agree that ours were atrocious until we stumbled upon Alison’s advice.

    3. Blinx

      Sounds like they want/need the job and don’t want to eliminate themselves by asking for M-F day shift only. As for salary, there can be such a large range, and again, they don’t want to be eliminated. This is such an incredibly tough job market, or haven’t you heard? Also, why don’t YOU post what the job is worth?

      1. Research

        Because there is no job, unfortunately. These are cold cover emails with CVs attached asking me if I have any positions open. I know the job market is beyond tough and I really do sympathize, but a) I have no jobs open for them to be eliminated from, and b) even if I did, this information does not help me understand whether they might fit into a research budget.

      1. Research

        More than one! And although these are entry-level-esque jobs, these are applicants with advanced degrees.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.

          In my experience, people with PhD’s are often the *worst* candidates, in terms of doing things in their application process that just aren’t done, or not following application instructions, etc. The one time I’ve had someone call to argue with me about my rejecting him for a position was a PhD (and the only person with such a degree to apply for the position).

          I think it might just be that when you’re in academia for that long, the “best practices” of job searching are bound to be different than when you started school, and you’ve probably gotten used to a lot of the weird things that academic job searches involve (which I’m given to understand are often very different than other industries).

          Plus, I think people with PhD’s are going to tend to be weirder. The type of person who pursues studies in something specific in that sort of long, arduous and focused way is a very different person from me. In some good ways, and some bad ways. :)

    4. Naomi

      A lot of jobs I’m applying for require people to work overtime–not just occasionally, but regularly working until the late night/early morning, staying overnight, working weekends etc. They seem really concerned with weeding out people who can’t commit to that kind of schedule, so doesn’t it make sense to say you’d be willing to work overtime if that’s a requirement of the job?

  17. E

    Ethical question! Lets say I’ve applied for 2 jobs, Job A and Job B. Job A sounds really fun (Chocolate Teapot Designer) but is part time and doesn’t pay well. Job B is less fun (Chocolate Teapot Cataloger) but is full time (WITH BENEFITS). At this point in my career/life, I’d honestly rather have the boring full time job (WITH BENEFITS). I had an interview with Job A this week and one with Job B next week. That means that if they were both to offer me a job, I would probably get an offer from Job A first. I know the first thing to do in that case would be to contact Job B, say I’ve been given an offer elsewhere and ask if they can make a decision quickly. Now, what do I do if they refuse to decide quickly? Do I take Job A and then sadly turn down Job B (if offered)? Do I turn down Job A and then hope for an offer from Job B? Or do I take Job A, but then (feeling terrible about it) un-take it a week or so later if I get an offer from Job B? Option 3 seems totally unethical, but some people have told me that it is more understandable because Job A is part time – everybody understands that you’d drop it for a full time gig. What do you guys think?

    Of course, this may all be moot because I have no idea if I will be offered either job, but it is worth thinking about.

    1. Kerry

      Or do I take Job A, but then (feeling terrible about it) un-take it a week or so later if I get an offer from Job B?

      DO NOT DO THIS. Even if it is part time. I know it sucks but if you have to decide about Job A without knowing about Job B, you just have to decide whether a bird in the hand is worth a better bird in the bush.

      Don’t forget that with a part-time job there’s always the option of picking up freelance work if you want to.

      1. The IT Manager

        Don’t forget that with a part-time job there’s always the option of picking up freelance work if you want to.

        Not to attack, but this isn’t really true for a lot of career fields or people. It’s the new “start your own business” advice that gets tossed around a lot, but not feasible or realistic for many people. Some careers don’t lend themselves to freelance work. And other people simply do not want the hassle of running their own side business in addition to a part-time job.

        1. Kerry

          I agree – but it doesn’t have to be freelance work in the same field. And I also agree that not everybody is into doing side work – which is why I said “if you want to”.

          My point was just that even if she has a part-time job, that doesn’t mean her income is restricted to her salary from that job forever and ever amen.

    2. KellyK

      Definitely don’t go with Option 3. It’s not ethical, and it burns all sorts of bridges.

      *However* if you do end up in that spot, and you do need full time and benefits, you can definitely start looking again after a few months (so that you get six months with them before leaving).

    3. Naomi

      See if you can get Job A to give you time to decide. I’m in a similar situation–I was offered a part time job, but they are letting me take a few weeks to decide while I wait to hear from other employers.

    4. Corporate Drone

      Option 3. It’s a part time job, and, as in the US your health insurance is tied to your employment, no one will be shocked that you would opt for the full time gig over the part time one. This is the risk companies take when offering part time, no benefits employment.

    5. Judari

      While I don’t think option #3 is ethical if you can do it without burning any foreseen bridges, I would do it, especially in this economy. However things to think about would be, what the culture is like in each company, how likely you are to be promoted to full-time in Job A, how likely a lay off is if certain clients leave or business slows in Job B, etc. lots of things to consider. Although in this economy I would look out for yourself first. Besides full time work with benefits is a reasonable reason to turn leave a part-time position at any stage.

  18. Discouraged

    Hi! I’m hoping some of you can help shed some light on this.

    I interviewed with an org through a recruitment firm. The final interview was Monday (it’s down to me and someone else). My understanding is that the hiring manager and others are DESPERATE to get someone in to start ASAP.

    Imagine my surprise, when I got an email from my recruiter on Wednesday that basically said the company is “crunching numbers” before extending an offer. That’s all the recruiter knows – he doesn’t know if it’s good or bad news.

    I have no idea what this means. Any ideas? Maybe finance just needs to confirm everything? Maybe they’re trying to make it a permanent role (it’s currently an indefinite contract role).

    I’m just so confused. And discouraged.

    I gotta take my kid to school, but will be back soon. Thanks!

      1. Discouraged

        Thanks. I hope so. I probably should have made it clearer that I’m not sure if they are going to make ME an offer. I’m not sure if I’m “the one.”

        Does this happen a lot? Fast and furious, only to be told “Well, BUDGET ISSUES…”?

        Thank you all so much!

          1. nyxalinth

            It does. I get sck of the whole “OMG we need someone right now oh wait let’s just dump it all on Joan the Such and Such instead because it isn’t in the budget.’

            Do they not even bother checking into this stuff before hiring? Or is it just easier to say “Hey, we’re hiring! Now we’re making you an offer– oops hiring freeze tee hee.”

            Has happened to me too many times.

        1. S. Martin

          I’m just one data point, but I’ve run into this situation in my own previous job search. Hiring manager really wanted to fill the slot quickly, but at some point in the put-the-offer-together process the position was put on hold and then cut due to budget decisions.

          1. AdAgencyChick

            This happened to me last year, too — “OMG the clients are launching a new product and they need someone RIGHTNOW!” Then — cue needle scratch and “well, now that we’ve looked at numbers for the second half of the year, we can’t justify any new hires.”

            This, of course, after I had come in twice for interviews — and, more importantly, after someone at the no-longer-hiring company decided to tell my then-boss, who was a friend of hers, that I was interviewing. Not cool!

            1. Discouraged

              Damn. That sucks. These kinds of stories really magnify the dysfunctions of the corporate world, don’t they?

  19. CeeBee

    I’ve been reading AAM religiously for quite awhile, but this is the first time I’ve joined the Open Thread and am hoping there might be someone out there that can shed light on my job-hunting issue(s).

    I graduated with a BA in Graphic Design & Illustration in winter of 2010 and have been working part-time as a designer/marketing specialist for a very small non-profit for the past 2.5 years. Knowing for certain I would never be hired fulltime, I made the decision to move back home with my parents nearly a year ago to save money while still working for the org., albeit remotely.

    For the first few months I was at home, I realize now (regretfully!) I was going through the motions when applying to jobs while simultaneously trying to improve my design portfolio and teach myself new skills. For the past few months, I’ve been using an entirely re-worked resume and tailored cover letters but have yet to see any effects of these changes. I’ve had one interview in the past 9 months.

    I’ve been applying to jobs that are “marketing” focused, but my goal is to work as a graphic designer. However, lack of response to my design portfolio, resume and cover letters are starting to make me question whether or not I’m even cut out to make a career as a designer.

    In short, how long is too long to keep chasing (what I feel is becoming) a pipe dream? Am I being too impatient given the state of the US job market or should I begin to seriously consider looking into another line of work?

    1. LMW

      I work in marketing, and I’m finding more and more companies are cutting back on in-house designers and relying on freelancers. Have you considered that option? Maybe as a side gig until you build a clientele?

      1. koppejackie

        I agree. Many, many people get their start through freelance/contract work. Including yours truly.

        You can keep chasing your pipe dream for as long as you feel comfortable. But I’d cast a really wide net (I’m unemployed right now, so I know what you’re going through).

        It’s a really, REALLY competitive market still – even though the economy is turning around. Don’t think it’s because your skills suck – it’s truly because there are SO many others out there doing the same thing you’re trying to do.

        Hang in there!

        1. CeeBee

          Hi koppejackie: Thank you for the words of encouragement! I’ve been trying to keep my options open, in terms of what sort of jobs I apply to. I’ve luckily been able to pick skills and experience in my current role that I’m hoping will translate into positions other than design, if it comes down to it.

          And yes, there seems to be a no dearth of people that are interested in the graphic design field. Tons of competition, but I’m hoping persistance will pay off.

      2. CeeBee

        Hi LMW: I’ve done a few minor freelance projects generated mostly from connections at my nonprofit, all just kind of one-offs. I have started doing some freelance design work for a culinary-focused biz in Brooklyn NY, which I am hoping might lead to something more and,at the very least, it should be a good networking opportunity.

        I truly think my main problem in attempting to freelance will be overcoming my lack of confidence. I’m constantly looking at other people’s design portfolios and feeling as if I can’t compete.

        1. koppejackie

          Try not to do that. Those portfolios don’t serve every organization! Not every company wants what these portfolios are showing. Your work is suited for a company – you just need to find each other. :)

          1. LMW

            I agree. I tend to feel the same way when I look at other people’s writing portfolios. But then I realize that I have (insert really specific experience that I demonstrate that they don’t), which will give me an advantage with employers who want that.

    2. Esra

      Speaking as an employed graphic designer who also freelances, nine months actually isn’t that bad in this economy. Have you considered going to a portfolio review show? Lots of design schools and organizations will have portfolio review shows where you can bring a 5-10 piece portfolio in and have professional designers and art directors look it over.

      If you’re not doing it already, it can be a good idea to find some freelance work or even volunteer with some other non-profits, just so your portfolio is more diverse.

      If graphic design is where you truly want to end up, then you’d probably be better off applying for junior designer roles, not marketing roles.

      1. CeeBee

        Hi Esra, thanks for your feedback! I live in Indiana and would not be opposed to making the trek up to Indianapolis to get involved in the events that the Indy AIGA chapter hosts. I know I could really benefit from getting an unbiased opinion on my work, so I’ve been keeping my eyes open for the next portfolio review day there.

        I’ve also been posting more of my design/illustration work online (my portfolio website, Tumblr, Dribbble, etc) and it’ s something I’m definitely trying to utilize more.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.

      It might be worth building in other skills that dovetail with graphic design; do you know HTML, for instance, or CSS? How’s your WordPress? And social media is a great skill set to have for anyone looking at marketing. All of those skills together make you competitive for lots of different jobs (and are all things you can learn for free online). Good luck!

      1. CeeBee

        Hi Kimberlee, Esq. I’ve actually spent the afternoon installing/playing around with WordPress! I’ve definitely noticed that the vast majority of the design AND marketing jobs I’ve applied to over the last 9 months have either required or strongly preferred some knowledge of webdesign or coding.

        I’ve been attempting to teach myself HTML and CSS over the past couple of months and have had social media and digital marketing experience at my current job. I’m hoping that as I keep expanding my skill set, the more I’ll be able to set myself apart from other candidates as I continue to job hunt.

    4. Miss Displaced

      Wow. I’ve been a designer for years and usually there are lots of places that need designers–so it is NOT a pipe dream! It’s true that of late, many of these are part-time and/or freelance jobs, but I still see a lot of graphic design jobs out there, and especially a number of junior designer positions, but that may not be the case in all geographic areas.

      If you want to strictly be a “designer” than stick to the graphic design jobs instead of things like “marketing coordinator.” It sounds like you do have SOME experience from where you work now, so I wonder if there were/are issues with your resume?

      Also, what type of design do you specialize in: web, print, mobile?
      You may want to focus on one thing in particular and become very good at it. Are you a Photoshop or InDesign ace? A Dreamweaver/CSS wizard? Your skills will be needed! As others have said, design is often a freelancers game… take on side projects if you can or temp to get out there and gain more experience. Heck, even local office stores have a “designer” working in the print department…

      I know that’s probably not the type of artsy design job you were envisioning, but you could gain some real skills (such as how to interact with clients and operate copiers and spec print jobs correctly). All I’m saying here is to keep an open mind. Lots of different places hire graphic designers (from aerospace industry to universities to car dealers) it’s not only about the big ad agency.

  20. Kristi

    This question is for nonprofit folks out there. What do you consider “Major Gift” amounts and/or experience? I’ve asked/closed donations $1,000 – $15,000 before, and asked/not closed for much more. I’m thinking it depends on the size of your organization, small nonprofit vs hospital. I would like to apply for jobs requiring “major gift experience” and want to feel like I’m really qualified.

    1. Kristi

      On a side note, Planned Giving is a whole other area I’m familiar with but no experience in. What % of fundraisers have actual experience with this?

    2. Sarah

      It does depend on the size of your organization (we’re at $600K for our annual budget and a gift of $1K would be a major gift for us). However, if you’re applying for a major gifts officer position, you’re probably looking at gifts of $10K or $25K.

      1. Josh S

        From knowing people who have done non-profit development work, the first tier of “major gift” typically is about $1k (at which point the organization pays you special attention). Things go up from there, depending on the size of the organization.

        And that $1k mark has been fairly consistent from small niche organizations to large, well-established theater companies. It’s the ‘top end’ of things that is more likely to vary, and how comfortable you are making an ask to someone at that tier.

        $15k is nothing to sneeze at, but it isn’t the same ball park as an employer who is looking for someone who can close $100k or $1m donations.

    3. Kate

      At my employer (midsized research university), up to 10K is annual giving and 100K+ is major gifts.

      Many of our planned giving people aren’t career development officers. They’re lawyers who found planned giving interesting and have been doing that for a decent amount of time. Because it’s so complex, most of our fundraisers know enough to tell donors the basics, but if donors want to make a planned gift they’re sent to the planned giving office.

      1. Good_Intentions

        Kristi, Kate:

        Sorry to intrude on your idea exchange, but I do have a question about fundraising.

        I am trying to learn more about fundraising. Do you have any suggestions of books, webinars, professional associations, workshops or other resources that might be helpful?

        Thanks!

        1. Kristi

          I really like FoundationCenter.org and charityhowto.com great resources there. Your local library may also have a nonprofit section, filled with books recommended by CFRE.

        2. Sarah

          You can also check out http://www.afpnet.org/. They have many resources here. The Foundation Center is great and offers free workshops where they have offices. Check out your local (large) foundations. Sometimes they also have workshops.

        3. Kimberlee, Esq.

          I love reading two non-profit blogs that are always talking about fundraising: Kivi’s Non-Profit Communications Blog, and Katya’s Non-Profit Marketing Blog. There are TONS of other high-quality fundraising blogs out there, and those two will link to a lot of them. :)

        4. Kate

          AMownLawn named my favorite resources– CASE and AFP.

          There’s also the Association of Donor Relations Professionals (ADRP). It’s more specific than AFP so it might not be as useful for someone exploring the field. Along those lines, Donor Relations Guru (http://www.donorrelationsguru.com/) is more niche than you need now, but there are lots of samples in case you want to see what kind of writing you might need to do as a development officer. Donor relations/stewardship can be a good way to enter the field if you’re coming from a hospitality/ customer service/ event planning background. (Not in stewardship anymore, but that’s where I started.)

    4. AMownLawn

      Echoing what Sarah and Kate said, there really isn’t a standard range for “major gift.” For most prestigious/renowned institutions (major universities/colleges, hospitals, museums, etc.), the number is likely to be $100K and up, but I’ve seen all kinds of numbers. I would say that for most institutions, $10K and up is a relatively safe minimum.

      All that being said, many job postings will explicitly lay out the range for the kinds of gifts you’ll be soliciting, so hopefully that can serve as a guide.

      Best of luck in the wonderful world of major gifts!

    5. Forrest

      A major gift at my current place is about $10,000+. Other places its been $50,000+.

      Every planned giving I know has either been a) a former lawyer, 2) a career development person so is close to retirement and doesn’t want to be a director anymore or 3) started off as an assistant to a planned giving officer.

    6. anon in tejas

      It depends on size, and history of the organization.
      I was board president of a all volunteer nonprofit. Our annual budget was around $100K and anything over $500 was a “major” gift.

    7. anon in tejas

      major gift experience really focuses on stewarding donors. I would suggest that you review all the stuff that falls under donor stewardship, and development of those relationships would be a good starting place for looking at the skills that would be required for major gift experience.

      1. W.W.A.

        Actually, I really think that major gift experience means a history of cultivating and closing major gifts. Depending on the org, they may have an entire separate staff just for stewardship.

    8. W.W.A.

      I think it’s safe to assume that if an org has the resources to have a staff member dedicated to raising major gifts, you’d be talking $25K and up. I think it would be unusual to have a major gifts officer who was tasked only with $5-10K gifts unless it was within the context of some particular campaign.

      I was once politely turned down for a job because I didn’t have enough experience closing $100K gifts. You never know unless they tell you what they want!

  21. Cruciatus

    I have a really stupid problem that is my issue–I guess I just need help to address it when the time comes. I’ve been working at my current workplace for over 2 years now, but just started my latest position in January. It was a small step up but there is no where to go from here, and in just nearly 4 months in this position, I have done nearly everything that will be expected of me in this position. I work at a college and have plans to stay in this position for at least one more year before I start looking for something new about this time next year. My stupid issue is…my boss LOVES me. He was so nervous about losing his former administrative assistant of 7 years but he thinks I do things even better than she does. He’s always telling people how great I am and this and that…and, though it’s (at least) a year away, I have no idea how I’ll tell him that I’m moving on (when the time comes). I know that people change jobs all the time, but I’m actually only the 2nd person in this position (that reports directly to him). I once said something about the future, implying I might not be here, and he got really anxious because he thought I meant I was leaving right then. So how does one tell a boss, one who really thinks their employee is fantastic, that it’s time for them to move on… I don’t know why I have such trouble imagining the scenario where I tell him I’m leaving. It’s basically just me and him in the department. It was easier to leave my last position because there were many of us there working under the director. But I’m the only admin who works under my new boss so it’s more “intimate” or something (bad word choice but can’t think of better). (and yes, I know of course there are much worse problems to have!)

    1. LMW

      It’s a year away and a million things can happen between then and now. I think it shows real thoughtfulness that you are worried about this, but just do the best job you can for your boss now and don’t worry about giving notice until you’re actually ready to start looking. You don’t need to stress about this yet!

    2. COT

      I just gave my notice on Monday (though my boss already knew I was looking). It was tough to do–although she supervises a good-sized team, I’m one of her long-term employees and she really counts on me. We have a great relationship so I didn’t relish giving my notice, especially because someone else just did too.

      But you just… do it. You sit down in their office and tell them. Their reaction, their stress about replacing you, all of that is theirs to deal with. Not yours. You can’t let guilt or fear hold you back when it’s time. Focus on your excitement for the new opportunity and just let the rest slide off your back. People leave jobs all the time. It’s normal.

    3. Liz in the City

      I’m just here to echo the others who have said this already: When it’s time, you just resign. You don’t worry about what they’re going to do after you leave. You do the best you can to leave your work at a good place (within reason), as in your desk isn’t a mess and you leave notes about the ongoing projects.

      I left my OldJob after 5 1/2 years. My boss loved me too, except the feeling was far from mutual. I just told her. She reacted appropriately. And then I left (and lemme tell you, the great feeling I got when I didn’t have to report to OldJob two weeks later = priceless).

      But a year is a long time. Lots can change. Just keep your work boundaries appropriate, take the praise when it’s warranted, and do a good job.

    4. HR lady

      Something else that can help smooth things over is for you to have your job processes and tasks really well documented. This can take some time if nothing is documented yet (which is one of the reasons why it will be appreciated!). So start writing up procedures, use “screencaps” from your computer, have things really well organized, etc. Then, when you do resign, you can show your boss where that stuff is and let him know it will help smooth the transition for whoever replaces you.

      Also, express your gratitude to your boss (when you do resign) about how much he/she helped you, was supportive of you, etc. And keep in touch through things like LinkedIn. It’s always great to have such an enthusiastic supporter :)

  22. Christine

    I could use some advice on a networking situation. I might’ve asked before in another thread (not an open one–I just checked), so apologies if I did.

    A month ago, I attended a presentation connected with one of the agencies I volunteer with. One of the main presenters was the Director of a major unit within an Institute at my university. This particular unit is related to an area of my field that I’m really interested in pursuing.

    So, after the presentation ended, I approached the woman and introduced myself. She enthusiastically offered to speak with me and gave me her contact info so I could follow up and set a time to speak. I think she asked that I call as well as send my resume in case she comes across something.

    I tried to call a few times, but kept getting an error saying the number wasn’t a working number (the recording was specific to my university). So I emailed her instead, but chose not to include my resume due to not feeling confident that it was strong. Nothing.

    Silly me…..I’d been dialing the number wrong that whole time!! So I called after all (I’d say that was about a week or so after meeting her at the event). So I called and left a voicemail. Still nothing. I’m thinking she either has been extremely busy or she dismissed me because I didn’t follow her exact suggestions to contact her.

    I’m thinking of trying one more time because I would really like her insights; it’s been several weeks since leaving the voicemail, so I don’t think I’m hounding her. Is this okay, or is it a lost cause? Phone or email (with resume this time!)? I’d certainly acknowledge that she’s busy no matter how I contact her.

    This is just another in a string of what I see as failed networking attempts. Arrrrgh! :(

    1. Zahra

      Is it end of term or spring break where you are? It is in my corner of the world right now. Anyone who’s teaching is busy either with preparing the exam or correcting it along with any end-of-term papers. They will be free in a week or two. Other possibility, they’re off on a vacation somewhere. Can you get the information on that, somehow? So anyway, I’d email her and then look for a LinkedIn group for that department/University (because my department has one and any job postings the professors see are published there).

      1. Christine

        When I met this woman, it was after spring break (this was on March 20). But now, it is getting close to the end of the term (I think it’s in mid-May at my university), and this person does teach in addition to her Director role. I figured she’d probably be busy.

        I think I’ll go forward with my plan to email her, this time with the resume – I hate bothering people via phone. Normally I’d let this go by now, but seeing that she did genuinely offer to speak with me, I figured it may be worth one more attempt.

  23. AmyLynne

    Any tips on dealing with work burnout? Not burnout in a particular job or industry, but total burnout on the entire process of working for a living? Not trying to be snide or funny; I’ve been working, going to school, or a combination of both since I was 18 (57 now) and this is a serious problem I have no clue on how to handle.

    1. Kerry

      Do you have any holiday time saved up? I was verging on burnout a few months ago after an intensely busy ten months at my job, and I took a week off to do absolutely nothing. I came back in a great mood.

      That said – you’ve bee working/studying for nearly 40 years! That’s a massively long time! I think a little burnout is normal actually….

    2. Anon

      I’d say there’s a few possibilities, really.

      It could be depression, and if it has persisted a while, talking to a professional might be wise, if it’s viable to do so. I know when I’ve been through bouts, I’ve felt a deep sense of burnout. If it is, one thing to be careful of is that depression can make you do stupid things, so one doesn’t want to do anything precipitous, like quitting a job.

      That’s probably the most serious possibility. It’s also possible that burnout for the industry you’re in is feeling like burnout for working. Is there another direction you could possibly explore? Or perhaps is there a hobby you could turn into a small business on the side, to experiment a little and see if that helps at all?

      Alternatively, have you been wrapping up your sense of worth primarily in work? If so, are there other activities that might be pursued along with work that would be fulfilling: volunteering for a cause you espouse, or getting involved in an organization?

      Just some suggestions. Best of luck!

      1. Jamie

        Alternatively, have you been wrapping up your sense of worth primarily in work?

        This is tough. When that’s true for you and things aren’t going so well at work it can hit harder and feel more personal. Sometimes I really wish I was one of those work to live people, rather than live to work.

      1. AnonForThis

        I know exactly how you feel. I am 53 and have been working since I was 14 years old. (Of course, throw school and college in there as well . . .)
        I have been at my current place of employment for going on 20 years, having been here the longest yet I am not the highest by any means, in the food chain. I have seen us grow from a handful of folks that all got along well and respected each other to many, many more employees whom I certainly can’t say that about. It’s really very depressing to come here every day and do a really good job and get no respect or recognition for it. I keep telling myself I’m going to stop working so diligently because hardly anybody else does, but I’m just not built that way.
        I now leave right at my end of the day time, no longer check work email or voice mail from home and make sure I get out of my office every day for lunch. I spend my evenings with my family/friends and try to do something fun at least one day out of the weekend. I live for my vacations and they really do help.
        It really is a drag though, and I’m sorry you’re feeling down.

    3. Annie

      I feel your pain … I’m tired of working too but taking time off helps – for a little while. Is there a way you can take an extended amount of time off while still keeping your job? I’m thinking us all your vacation at once so you can really de-compress before coming back.

      Alternately, you can focus your energy on creating a plan for yourself that will lead to early retirement – become financially independent so that you don’t need to work unless you want to.

    4. EngineerGirl

      Sounds like exhaustion. Just how many things are you doing right now? Work AND Volunteering AND School? How about the big “M”? Lots of hormonal changes there. Been tested for thyroid? Menopause also creates sleep disturbances when you get older, or even sleep apnea. If you’re not getting a full 8 you can indeed be burning out.
      In short:
      get a physical
      get 8 hours of sleep
      get some physical activity
      reschedule your life with some free time

    5. Tex

      I feel your pain and I don’t have nearly the amount of work experience you do.

      Can you take a sabbatical for about 1 to 6 months? It would give you time to unwind, think about the future and maybe even another/slightly altered career path. Of course, not everybody’s employer understands this and it can be a financial burden on your savings. When I made a major change from working to graduate school, I worked until the last possible moment because I wanted to stockpile as much money as possible. Worst decision I ever made. Other students had taken the summer off and were relaxed and focused when they started school whereas I moved to another city the weekend before and perpetually felt behind. I really didn’t feel like I got a mental break until I was laid off several years later. I drastically cut down my expenses and moved back in with my parents. There was stress from not knowing what the future holds, but it also made me re-focus on the career and life goals I wanted. People were so sympathetic to the fact that I was laid off but it really was a blessing in disguise. A two week vacation really isn’t enough time to really delve into those issues.

    6. Long Time Admin

      I’m a bit late to this party, but I’m also dealing with this. Most days, I feel like I’m going to burst into tears. I hatehatehate working for stupid people with stupid rules, doing work that doesn’t matter and never will, and putting up with incredibly annoying co-workers.

      Well, I just turned 64 and have decided to retire next year immediately after my birthday. My attitude has improved 100% since I made that decision! Financially, it’s not the best idea, but in *every* other way, it’s the only way to go. I’m downsizing little by little and figuring out how to live on less.

      Here’s the twist – I have a new boss, our department and company is on the upswing, and my job is becoming more interesting.

      You’re not old enough for social security yet, but you could start thinking about what you would like to do when you retire. Begin to explore new areas of interest, volunteer somewhere doing something you enjoy, or maybe become an armchair traveler. Making plans for your future will help you now.

  24. SD

    I’d be really interested to hear suggestions for military veterans who are entering the workforce at the conclusion of their service. My boyfriend is a Marine officer with an undergraduate business degree and will have about 4 years of management experience at the time his contract ends. What have all of you seen from hiring successful (or unsuccessful) military applicants? I’d like to help him as much as I can in the job search process. Thank you!

    1. RLS

      Personally, when I see applicants who have served in the military, I consider it a good thing, as I find them to be the most reliable members of the team. I don’t consider it a problem at all, even if I know they may leave sporadically for duty or another position later. However I only hire entry-level non-professional positions.

      So I can’t really offer advice, it’s just that from my experience, with one exception, I’ve never been let down by an employee with military experience.

    2. VictoriaHR

      I tend to give preference to interview times to military veterans, and if a decision comes down to two candidates, one being a veteran, and all other factors being equal, I’d pick the veteran. Discipline + hard work = win.

    3. The IT Manager

      My first instinct is to say “don’t believe the lies.” That his military experience opens the door to any job you want.

      My “problem” was that since I was an officer I had no hands on technical experience in my field where I did the technical work, and I was even out of that area for a good number of years before job hunting. I had been a low or mid-level supervisor my whole career. Unfortunately the civilian sector seems to expect managers to have paid their dues with the technical work and I did not have that experience. I solved this by getting a job with a military friendly govt employer and getting a Project Manager job which wasn’t quite in the network operations or security fields, but my experience fit better.

      It really depends on what you boyfriend want to do. Companies that contract with the military may well jump at him if he has a security clearance and near enough to the right kind of experience. He needs to figure out what he wants to do and translate his military experience into civilian terms on his resume that match the kinds of jobs he’s looking for.

      Also he should take advantage of as many Transition Assistance Program (TAP) classes on resume writing, interviewing, etc that he can. And read AAM posts on resumes, job hunting interviewing in case he gets bad advice. I got some from some well meaning people on the post.

    4. College Career Counselor

      Is your boyfriend using any of the resources available to him for career transition after his military service? I have had colleagues who worked as career/transition counselors for military enlisted and officer moving into civilian roles. (I don’t know how individualized or good their advice is–probably varies by field and personnel, like any other.) However, he should have access to it, and it won’t hurt to explore.

      I’ve seen former military personnel do everything from event planning to defense contracting to IT. Depending on his area of specialization w/in the Marine Corps, he might wish to target his job search accordingly. From what I know, many military personnel make excellent transitions to the civilian workforce. The areas where they can demonstrate transferrable skills (in addition to whatever their job was in the military) are in motivation, being task-oriented, organized, analytical, etc. Lots of employers (including government) give a priority for veterans.

      Where I have observed challenges for former military personnel (and this might be more career military with 20+ years) are in the areas of cultural “fit” with organizations (this goes both ways. Some organizations are anti-military), difficulty adapting to a less formal organizational hierarchy, dealing with the slow pace of decision-making (esp. in non-corporate orgs) and lack of accountability among colleagues.

      1. Meg

        I’m curious what you mean by anti-military. As in, some organizations give preference to an applicant who is NOT in the military as opposed to someone who is? Or do you mean an organization that specifically speaks out against military actions? I’ve never heard of a company that discriminates against military veterans, but I’ve also never served, so I’m admittedly not very knowledgeable on the subject.

        1. Chinook

          Meg, there are some places that are antimilitary/war when it comes to attitude. While my husband was stationed in Ottawa with the Canadian Forces, I was placed by my temp agency at one non-profit during November. Their union rep came up to me and told me that I didn’t have to take Nov. 11th off if I didn’t want to. I told him that I had somewhere else to be that day (like the National ceremony 2 blocks away where my husband was on parade…grrr…).

          Other tips that they obviously never learned why I was temping or why I was in Ottawa was that everyone was wearing white poppies (a sign of protest against war in Canada) or nothing at all which just caused me to make sure to have a red one on each layer of my clothing. I told the agecy to find me another posting ASAP because I would be tempted to sabtage any anti-war protest they planned (I actually was paid by the organization to attend an anti-progue rally, so an anti-war/anti-army one would not be out place).

          1. -X-

            “Their union rep came up to me and told me that I didn’t have to take ”

            That’s anti-military? Telling you an option you had?

            1. Chinook - Chocolate Teapot Social Coordinator

              “”Their union rep came up to me and told me that I didn’t have to take ”

              That’s anti-military? Telling you an option you had?”

              I think it had to do with his tone, the fact that this was the only time this guy talked to me and the fact that I was used to the world stopping at 11 am on Nov. 11th (in Alberta, it only slows down in Ottawa.) On top of that, the repatriation of our soldiers were still going on (including a classmate of mine) and we were literally 2 blocks from the ceremony (which means that logistically it would have been a nightmare to get to the office if you were so inclined).

              I think the biggest sign was the sneer in his voice when he told me something that I already knew and worked out with my supervisor. I think he would have had the same sneer if he had realized I was from Alberta and had family who worked in the oil industry.

              1. Lynne

                It struck me that way too, from what you said – I mean, I suppose he could’ve just been ensuring you knew Remembrance Day wasn’t a stat in Ontario, if he knew you were from out of province (I never realized until just now that Nov 11 is not a federal stat), but…if that’s all he meant, it should’ve been pretty clear from the tone.

                Sounds more like he thought it wasn’t particularly…special? worthwhile?…and he wanted to encourage you to treat it as an ordinary workday, which offends me too. I don’t care how anti-war someone is…they should still respect Remembrance Day. (And I say this as someone who’s gone to anti-war protests. I still wear red poppies every year, and sometimes go to the ceremonies, and I don’t see any contradiction there.)

                1. -X-

                  “I don’t care how anti-war someone is…they should still respect Remembrance Day. ”

                  So is the government of Ontario anti-military for not having it as an official holiday?

                  ” I think he would have had the same sneer if he had realized I was from Alberta and had family who worked in the oil industry.”

                  So he sounds like an asshole who doesn’t care about the military. And you interpret that as being anti-military.

                  Sneers are not good, but someone not caring about things you care about is not “anti.” It’s not caring. If you want to think that those who don’t care about things you think are important are actually against those things, it must seem like you have a lot of enemies.

                2. Chinook - Chocolate Teapot Social Coordinator

                  I think choosing whether or not to make Remeberance Day a stat holiday involves a lot more than respect for the military because it involves issues of productivity, wages, vacations, etc. but I also do think it shows an attitude at the government level but I don’t know why it has not been done.

                  As for the guy being a general jerk not reflecting the company, I would agree except for the fact that his opinions were part of the organization’s general ethos. They were politically orientated and very left leaning in what they did, and I while heartedly support there work on water conservation and support of grassroots movements, some of their other stands on issues were agaiast either what I believed or what I knew to be true (i.e. no Canadians were deployed to be Iraq and Afghanistan was not about oil).

                  More importantly, we were originally talking about a retired military guy being aware of an snti-military culture. My DH explained that, to “his kind”, Remembrance Day is highly important and I would think that his reaction to being told it wasn’t important would have been, uh, passionate. Basically, this place would be a very poor fit for retired military.

    5. Mike

      Be sure to consider looking for a job in the federal government. As a vet, he’ll have preference which makes it easier to get your resume in front of the selecting official.

      1. littlemoose

        I was about to post the same thing. So many federal positions (across all agencies, not just military/defense) have strong veteran hiring preferences. I work at a federal agency and a large percentage of my non-lawyer colleagues are vets. The veteran preference may help him stand out in entry-level fields or a crowded job market.

    6. Kimberlee, Esq.

      Make sure that, on his resume, he’s really clear about what he did, and relating it back to what the job he’s applying for is looking for. When I see military experience on a resume, more often than not it’s accompanied by a lot of letters, numbers, and jargon that I just don’t understand. It could be incredibly relevant, but if I don’t understand it, I can’t really take it into account. I’d recommend having someone who isn’t military, and who has never been military, take a look at his resume to make sure his skills and experience are coming across in a way that a civilian can wrap their brain around!

    7. blu

      Make sure you boyfriend does his salary research. I have seen quite a few newly discharged military folks accept very low-balled offers because they were comparable to what they were making while still serving. A lot of times they forgot to look at their total compensation (housing allowances, food allowances, etc) when considering their new offer packages.

  25. Anonymous

    I could use some advice about getting a job as a paralegal.

    I went to school and I got my degree in Criminal Justice with a focus on legal studies. I know that’s what I want to do as a career because I have a lot of the natural skills that are needed and some transferrable skills from other jobs I did.

    I’m moving to the metro Atlanta area in July to live with a friend and get away from a toxic situation. So I wanted to know what could I do to get the experience. I have heard many conflicting messages from people who worked as paralegals. Some tell me to go back to school and get my paralegal certification, while others tell me to apply to positions anyway or do an internship/volunteer.

    If you did paralegal work, how did you get started?

    1. IP Paralegal

      For background: I am an IP paralegal in a mid-size firm in NYC. I took the job for experience prior to law school, and I was upfront in my interview that I would only stay for about 2 years.

      I applied to any and all paralegal jobs on my school’s career website, plus the legitimate-looking jobs on Monster. I have a BA, but no legal experience or paralegal training. YMMV, but the majority of the firms I applied to wanted someone inexperienced but able to learn on the job. They wanted someone they could train their way, without having to break habits from an old employer.

      I would start applying to jobs now and see what happens – don’t commit to a paralegal program if it isn’t going to be necessary. This is the time of year when many people start giving notice that they’re heading back to school in the fall, so it is a good time to apply.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.

      My friend has a great paralegal gig in a high-unemployment area, and she didn’t have the certification when she started, but was in school (nights) to get it when she applied, so I’s say the same thing IP Paralegal below says: apply and see what happens, but if you’re not getting bites, go ahead and enroll in a certification.

  26. ExceptionToTheRule

    I’m going to ask Jaime’s question from a few days ago when we were talking about whether to hang your degree on the wall:

    What’s hanging on the wall in your office or the sides of your cubicle?

    1. LMW

      A picture of my dog and several charts and infographics on creating effective charts and infographics.

      1. Blinx

        On the outside of my cube I had a nice framed poster. Inside, I would periodically print out and tape up funny pictures of my dogs, or nice nature shots that I took.

    2. The IT Manager

      Nothing hangs on my cubical walls except a white board. I do have 5 framed photos of my family and nephews and one group photo from my team durin a deployment to Iraq. The nephews are young and cute and I change those photos about once a year. The deployment souvenier is there mostly because there’s no room at home to hang it. It’s behind me so I barely see it and since no one new comes to my cubical ever, it seems kind of unnecessary. For me it blends into the back ground and is rarely noticed. The family photos are on a shelf behind my monitor and I see them daily.

    3. Jamie

      Oh this fascinates me! Thanks!

      I’ll play – my office walls:

      – 3 posters (History of Programming Languages, Empirical Research Methods, and Domain Name System (don’t ask me why – that one should go)
      – Several colored pages of Hello Kitty colored by my bosses daughter for me.
      – 2 training certificates for ISO and Internal Auditor programs. Be very impressed!
      – and my favorite of all. A matted and framed declaration signifying the informal and very goofy vote by which I was elected ISO Management Rep signed by my bosses and another director. When that was done it was pure silliness – but about something that matters a lot to me – and every time I look at it I am reminded of how much I truly like the people here. It’s symbolic only to me – but it’s the one thing I’d save if there was a fire.

    4. ExceptionToTheRule

      I forgot to include this in my question. I’m into photography, so some of the better pictures I’ve taken are printed and framed and decorating my walls.

    5. Malissa

      A few funny quotes, pictures of the grandkids, a calendar, a white board and a hand written note from my boss thanking me for being a leader and riding herd on the software conversion.

    6. Lisa M

      Three framed pictures by two of my favorite photographers — Kathleen McGill (‘Downstream’ and ‘French Bike’) and Thomas Mangelson (‘Winter Respite’). (Full disclosure: McGill is actually my mother.) A framed piece of Chinese calligraphy with a translation that reads: “Crisis & Opportunity: Opportunity is always present in the midst of crisis.”

    7. Construction HR

      Universal Studio’s version of “Lunch on a Skyscraper”; an animation cel of Marvin the Martian peering down on Earth; and an animation cel of Wiley and RoadRunner on a mesa looking in opposite directions with “Safety & Quality, Semper Vigilans” superimposed on the background pic of a project I worked on.

    8. T

      I have a tiny office that used to be a storage closet, and has yucky grey/white paint flecked walls, so I covered them in tons of colorful postcards my friends sent me from their travels abroad :)

    9. Colette

      Some pictures from my grandparents’ farm (from back when it was still their farm); a bunch of key chains and magnets people keep giving me. My boxing training level IV plaque (becuase I don’t know what to do with it otherwise). Various work-related reference documents. And a crocodile beanie baby, peeking its nose up over the wall.

    10. Kelly O

      Pictures of my daughter and husband
      List of vendors we have in a drop-ship program
      Monthly revolving calendar with our markdown schedule
      Picture my daughter colored in her Sunday nursery
      A little square with the quote “How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.” Wayne Dyer
      Store list/Corporate office phone list (I use a sheet protector so I can swap this out when needed, and it’s just tacked up near the phone so I can grab it easily.

      I do not like office clutter. My desk is actually fairly bare, and I keep my drawers organized to help me get things quickly. Someone told me once it didn’t look like I worked in the cube when I stepped away, and that’s kind of how I like it. Keeps me all zen and stuff.

    11. Elizabeth

      A white board with the quote “My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to stay sane.”

      An ink drawing of a character I ran in a role-playing game.

      An art print of a favorite artist’s work (called “All In a Day’s Work”, of a baby dragon playing a flight simulator while papers pile up around him)

      A professional crayon drawing of one of the birds rescued, rehabbed & hunted by a friend who is a master falconer. We can’t give 30 hours a week or more of our lives to the care & love of a hawk or falcon, so we give him money so he can. His thanks was this drawing.

      My college diploma, & a plaque recognizing my work with a work-related volunteer organization.

    12. Josh S

      Well, I work from home, so let’s see:
      -Framed art photographs done by my wife (she’s fantastic)
      -The charging station/white board/key hanger that I built as a catchall & TO DO list/schedule
      -The Thermostat

      On my desk, I have some photos of my wife/kid and my parents.

    13. Meg

      I have a print of a generic Monet landscape painting. Nothing special, but when I get stressed I like to look at it and imagine I’m there on the beach (It’s a picture of a beach with some sailboats). I also have flowers, a box of tea, a picture of me and my sister, and approximately a bajillion post it notes for various phone numbers/locations of files/random information that I keep meaning to organize more efficiently.

    14. ThursdaysGeek

      Three old plates of chips that were discarded by Micron and passed on to me, three magnetic bendy skateboarders, two certificates that are meaningless (training and safety), some family photos, a calendar, and my guy (a 6′ poster of the human body with muscular on one side and vascular and skeletal on the other).

      Now, if you’d asked about my desk, I’d have to add several containers of silly putty, assorted Rubik’s style cubes, a plant, reading books, assorted lego figures, nearly a dozen plastic lizards, tissues, water, four plastic aliens, a pair of cheaters, a bendy spiderman…ok, this can go on for way too long. There’s more junk, but it’s MY junk. It looks like a geek desk and cube.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        My fire safety certificate (I only became an office fire marshal so that I can wear a hi-viz jacket, and hard hat, plus I get to shout at people).
        My internal training internet safety certificate.
        And a small postcard with the legendary war time slogan, which still seems to apply in most companies:

        http://www.keepcalmandcarryon.com/

      2. Alicia

        I have a brand new office as of today and it’s really quite large. The only thing I know for certain I am putting in there is a B&W photo of a building I spent the past 9 years in. Aside from that, I dunno honestly.

      3. Lynne

        Mine is a very geeky desk too! I have a pink R2-D2 poster I got at Comicon. Plus a couple of dragon statuettes I painted at the local pottery studio, a stuffed llama, and a cute fairy one of my coworkers knitted for me. And on the wall nearby I put up a 3D poster of Gandalf that my work randomly received one day (we’re a library, we get these things).

        My boss has a stuffed griffin on her desk. I am slightly jealous. (My llama is pretty cool though.)

        I did also put up a map of our library system, and some schedule- and task-related stuff. See, it’s not all fun and games; I do work too.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          I thought griffins were mythical, and you have a stuffed one!? (I don’t know why I first thought taxidermy instead of toy.)

          1. Lynne

            LOL at the taxidermy. :)

            Not me! Alas. It belongs to my boss. Though I suppose I could sneak in during the dead of night and make away with it…send her postcards a la traveling garden gnome…

            (…wait, she would totally know it was me. Hm. Must come up with plan that has better deniability. Something more like what a normal person would think to do.)

            (Noooo, all the normal-person things are boring! Non-deniability it is.)

    15. Bonnie

      A painting given to me by my aunt an artist. A painting done by an African elephant. Two paintings that together create a scene of penguins. And three abstract paintings done by a woman in St. Louis.

    16. Victoria Nonprofit

      I’m super boring:

      – a white board with my travel schedule for the next two months (I travel 50%+ and want my coworkers to know where I am)
      – a printout of my organization’s core values
      – instructions for scanning & saving documents to the network
      – internal phone list

      Sigh.

    17. Ashley

      The only thing hanging is a bulletin board, but on that board are cards I’ve received from co-workers, a funny comic about scrabble sent to me by an employee, thank you notes, and a sign that says “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

      On top of my cabinets, I have some pictures with friends, my 5 year milestone certificate, a non-floral vase arrangement, and an Edward Cullen doll.

      Yes, I said an Edward Cullen doll. My boss likes to spread rumors that I am obsessed with Edward (I am not). So she got me a doll as a joke, and I proudly display it in my office. It makes me laugh. :)

    18. The Other Dawn

      My cartoon “hall of fame” board with all my favorite cartoons I’ve collected over the years, cat calendar, industry-related diploma, framed pics of sunsets I took myself, and a small mirror behind my door.

    19. Elizabeth West

      On my cube walls:
      –A list of classes for administrative training
      –The tornado warning procedures (it’s that time again)
      –A bulletin board with the evac procedures on it (I’m paranoid), my contact info if someone needs to get me while I’m telecommuting and our VPN goes down, and some pushpins.
      –Green magnets on the metal sections; they don’t hold anything up yet.
      –The hook off my headset base with my headset hanging from it.

      In the cube:
      –A pothos named Horace
      –A company mug I got when I started (the company sent me a little care package) full of pens and markers
      –Computer doc, extra monitor, mouse, pad and wrist rest (both purple), two squeezy balls–one purple, one white, stapler, phone, and my company-issued backpack that I never use.
      –In the upper cabinet is tea, ramen, honey, trail mix, a cup to water Horace with, and a box of cocoa mix.

      Not a lot of personal stuff. I wanted to put up these awesome posters of Batman and Joker I got at a convention in February, but I figured that wouldn’t go over too well.

    20. Windchime

      I have a cubicle. I’ve lined two sides of it with fun fabric and trimmed it with grosgrain ribbon (it sounds girlier than it is). I’ve got some certifications that are important to my organization hanging on the wall, a framed picture of my kids and nephews, and a bunch of Visio drawings of some ETL stuff that I recently did. You didn’t ask about this, but my desk is usually a mess and is covered with diet Coke cans, sticky notes, and stacks of papers.

      1. Windchime

        Ooops, I forgot to mention the code monkey. I broke the build yesterday so I have a little stuffed monkey hanging by his cape on my cube wall.

    21. Jen in RO

      I am jealous. I work in an open space and no one has walls, management included. My desk is covered in crap, but my two bits of ‘me’ are my WoW Cataclysm mousepad and a toy red Angry Bird with a funny name which I can’t translate.

    22. short geologist

      On the walls: my diplomas (yep), my professional geologist certification, a selection of postcards from some of my more exotic locations, the office phone list. I have a big bare space right now – maybe I’ll get a fancy print on my next trip.

      On the desk – an immense pile of maps and papers, a collection of broken drill bits.

      1. EM

        Sounds like we work in a similar field. I have a poster of the orders of soil taxonomy, a map of the CDOT regions, a company phone list, the conceptual design of a major transportation project I’m working for, a picture of my 6 year old, and a drawing of a germ he made (his description for it is: it lives in my mouth).

    23. RJ

      I’m sure no one’s still reading this, but it looks like I’m the only one with a required “suicidal/homicidal threats procedure” card hanging by my phone. I need a new job. ;-)

  27. Mary

    I had a video-interview on April 1 with 2 people (1 hour each). Was told it was “early in the process” and they’d get back with me about Round 2/in person interviews. So it has now been 3+ weeks and I haven’t heard anything, so I emailed the recruiter on Wednesday, just asking for an update…(short, 2 sentence/polite email). Haven’t heard a peep. Any thoughts? I know the recruiter could be away….just getting antsy….really want this job but don’t want to appear pushy.

    1. SC in SC

      There’s not much else you can do. I’d give it until mid-next week and try one more time. Regardless, it’s time to follow the mantra…mentally move on, keep looking, be pleasantly surprised if you hear something positive. Good luck.

  28. Colette

    Here’s my issue.

    I started my career in software development, moved to tech support, moved back to development, then customer service. The common thread – the thing I like to do – is analysis & problem solving. In other words, figuring out what the problems are, why they’re happening, then figuring out how to fix it.

    My issue is that I’m not really sure what jobs that involve that look like – i.e. what titles would go along with analysis and problem solving, other than the ones I’ve already had.

    In other words, when I’m ready to move on from my current job, what kind of jobs are out there? I know networking will obviously help, but what ideas do you guys have?

    1. Corporate Drone

      Business analyst or project management. Of course, a lot of project management jobs want a 6 Sigma or PMP certification these days. Everyone in our PMO has one or the other, and 2 guys have both.

      The other thing that’s key is Scrum Agile.

      1. Colette

        My concern with project management is that I know a lot of unemployed project managers. It is something I am interested in, though. Thanks for the suggestion.

    2. EngineerGirl

      Are you paranoid? Because Software Risk Management may be a job for you. If you love root cause analysis, you’ll love it. You’ll be able to leverage your experience in knowing the cause to preventing the situation.
      How about Information Assurance? Details there. But some of that is compliance and you may find that borrrrring.
      Network management? Trying to optimize networks.

      1. Colette

        Interesting suggestion – part of my current role is fraud prevention, dealing with phishing rather than software attacks. Another part is process compliance. And my tech support role was in telecom networks. :)
        I’ll have to look more into these specific titles. Thanks!

    3. Colette

      Thanks for all of the suggestion! Some I’ve considered, but some are new ideas. I appreciate it.

  29. CollegeAdmin

    I’ve been waiting for this thread! Question for those of you who wear pencil skirts – how short is too short? My skirt hems ride up when I sit down (as I imagine most people’s hems do) and make a skirt that’s 1-2 inches above the knee into one that 4-6 inches above the knee. Is this unusual/unprofessional?

    1. LMW

      Look at what other people in your office are wearing (especially the ones you want to emulate). At my old job, that would have been totally acceptable (and I could get away with shorter as long as I wore leggings, not tights). Our female VPs would wear them and it was regarded as professional dress. At my new job, I’ve had to buy skirts that hit at the knee so they didn’t go so high when I sat down, because everyone else dresses more conservatively.

    2. A Bug!

      Unfortunately, the reality is that “too short” depends on a lot of things. Like LMW said, look at others you respect for a general idea of what’s appropriate for your workplace.

      But there’s the added complication that an item of clothing on one person would be considered too revealing on another. Whether or not that’s “right” is up for debate but as a practical concern you have to take into account your own body shape when considering how short is too short.

    3. CollegeAdmin

      Thanks for the responses. My problem is that everyone else in the office dresses more casually – khakis and plain shirts. I try to dress a little nicer because I am trying not to be mistaken for a student. I’m only 21 (earned my B.A. in 2012), and everyone else in the department is at least 10 years my senior. I might have to keep guessing. :/

      1. KellyK

        I think that if you’re trying not to be mistaken for a student, erring on the side of longer (i.e., just above the knee) is the way to go, because short skirts (even if not inappropriately short) have a “young” vibe to them.

      2. 22dncr

        CollegeAdmin – one thing that’s always helped me is OWNING what I wear – not just wearing it. If you are in any way uncomfortable in what you are wearing/doing it will show. Same goes for tattoos, etc. If you OWN the look then you are comfortable and confident and this will project outward. If you aren’t then don’t wear it. Does that make sense? Still always look around to see what others are wearing but ultimately, if you think they are too short then they are.

        1. CollegeAdmin

          Love this, it’s such a great way to look at clothes. I’ve got several ear piercings and they’re such a part of who I am now that I don’t even really think about them. I think using that mindset with the rest of my style will really help me out. Thanks a bunch!

    4. Lexy

      For me, in my office, that is fine and most of my pencil skirts do the same thing (I have one that hits just below the knee that doesn’t ride up too far). It does depend on how “pencil” the pencil skirt is. If they just hang straight down from my hips, it’s fine. Some pencil skirts have a little closer fit and since I am fairly curvy if I wear those I look more like Joan Holloway than is acceptable (at work… in my personal life looking like a blond Joan is pretty much my constant goal)

      Though it does depend on what client I’m on… the insurance companies are fairly conservative… the manufacturing clients are much less so.

    5. theotherjennifer

      Do you have a modesty panel at your desk – or can everyone see under your desk as they walk by? Do you ever bend over, file in a lateral filing cabinet, etc. where you might be showing more than is office appropriate? Just beware that when you sit down and cross your legs if your skirt is too short, you might be flashing a little bit more than you think!

      1. Chinook - Chocolate Teapot Social Coordinator

        I echo the concern about what others can see when you are sitting – ask someone you trust to check you out. The bending thing shouldn’t be a problem if you bend at the knee and your skirt starts out knee length. Pencil skirts do require “lady-like” movements like crossing at the ankle and keeping knees together (says the former altar server who, as the adult, was sometimes on the altar in a skirt, spending half the time trying to remember not to accidentally flash the congregation from behind the priest and thus prove that women shouldn’t be up there)

        1. Nikki

          Yep, from the choir loft! But I bought a scarf (a large square one, maybe more of a wrap) and gracefully draped it over my knees when I sat down…

    6. KayDay

      Yes, in addition to the culture, pay attention the the physical environment of the office (as Theotherjennifer said). Do you have a busy open plan office with clients dropping by? Do you go to a lot of meetings where you have to sit in a chair without a desk? Or do you have your own office with a desk that covers your legs?

      My office is pretty casual, but I have one skirt that is “opaque tights only” because after a while (even just walking!) it hikes up a bit more than I want it to.

    7. Kelly O

      My personal rule for work skirts is hitting right at the top of my knee, or at the middle of the knee. It helps keep the riding up issue from being such a factor. I’m 5’7″ and proportionally have longer legs, so it can be a challenge, but it works. (When I was thinner/worked in a more “business” office, I would buy a skirt a size too big to get the length and have it taken in. It made stuff cost a bit more, but working out cost per wear made it more worth it, especially with thrift store finds and sales.)

      You can also do a more grown-up, professional look without skirts. Check out blogs like Professionality, Corporette, and Extra Petite (please note, I am not petite at all, but Jean has amazing style and lots of tips on altering things to fit.)

      1. CollegeAdmin

        Thanks for the blogs, I’ll definitely check those out! I just took a quick peek at Extra Petite – I’m 5’6″ (and always wear heels), but I’m very slim, so I’ll be sure to look for some tips!

    8. CollegeAdmin

      Wow, thanks for all the responses! I do work with a cubicle wall in front of me, so at least accidental flashing not a concern. I think I’ll “retire” one or two of my skirts (including the one I’m wearing today, which has been bugging me all day/makes me feel less than professional) but I should be okay with most of them. Thanks folks, I appreciate it!

    9. Jamie

      Good rule of thumb is that if you have to worry about what shows when sitting or reaching for seething its too short.

      What you are describing I would consider much too short for the offices in which I’ve worked, but ymmv.

  30. A Bug!

    Alison, did you watch the House of Cards remake? Without spoiling anything for those who might not have seen it, do you have any thoughts on how they portray the nonprofit organization?

    (If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. Even if it’s just to watch Kevin Spacey completely in his element. It’s Netflix-exclusive, though.)

    1. Hlx Hlx

      Loved House of Cards! And would also like to know what Alison thought. Reminded me of the Scottish play.

  31. Kate

    I know you should always have another job lined up before you quit your current job, and that resume gaps are a big red flag to employers. But…
    I have been dreaming for a long time about traveling for a year (maybe two). I have enough in savings to do this and still have a cushion for when I come back for finding a job. I currently hate my job- like making me physically ill. And while I’m applying for new jobs, I haven’t had much luck the past few months. It seems all the positions are looking for someone way more or way less experience. So in the back of my head I’ve been thinking I’ll keep applying, but if I don’t find something by the fall, I’ll just quit and travel. I am a designer so I think this gap in my resume could be spun as a really long “inspiration” trip. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking because I really hate my job?
    Do you think extended travel would have the same negative connotations as an unexplained resume gap when I start looking for work again?

    1. LMW

      I would love to have the opportunity to do that! I think that having that type of experience can actually be a huge benefit, and would be something I’d find really interesting in a candidate. Plus, since you’re a designer, it’s not like you can’t do anything during that year. Not sure what type of deisgner you are, but even if you just did projects for your self, a little freelancing, occasionnally blogged, etc., it would show that you hadn’t just stopped for a year (and would keep your skills fresh).

      1. E.R

        About 2 years ago, I quit my job to travel (but I was only travelling for a few months. A year would be great, but it was not do-able at the time). I paired up my travelling with some volunteer work, which meant I could put it on my resume after the fact and employers would have an idea about the gap on my resume. Firstly, life is short and you should do it. I’ll probably do it again one day and though my travel experience wasn’t pure bliss (I was alone in Africa) it was a worthwhile experience. From my own experience, be prepared to take a slightly lower-paid job or a job that isn’t quite in your industry when you return. Not a guarantee, but you may have fewer options. Also, you likely know this, but employers won’t consider your traveling/ volunteer experience a plus as a worker, though they may be interested in it on a personal level. They may worry that you will want to take off again as soon as you build your savings back up, so prepare to address that.

        But definitely go.

        1. EngineerGirl

          This is really important. You need to address the planning part. Taking time off should be a carefully considered position and not a whim. I would make sure that I had at least a years salary saved up. And I would make sure that part of that travel time was spent doing volunteer work. It would be better if the volunteer work was something that involved a substantial amount of time – multiple weeks or months. Then you’ll seem like someone that is willing to commit to a project. If you learn something from the experience, then even better. You still get to travel, but some back with an expanded skill set.

    2. Lilliput

      Do it if you can! I’ve had similar 6 month to yearlong gaps on my resume because I was traveling, and it was definitely worth it. However, something you might want to consider is finding some sort of volunteer work/project you can join in some of your target countries. I found it much more interesting to be immersed in something productive as opposed to simply traveling in a tourist/sightseeing manner (not that that isn’t enjoyable too!). Also, to clarify, I’m not talking about the type of ‘pay thousands to volunteer for 1 month’ type packages offered by gap year/voluntourism companies – those really annoy me and seem targeted towards affluent young people. But I digress!

      Anyway, having something ‘extra’ to complement your travels, especially if you can relate it to your design work, would probably be looked upon favorably by any sensible employer! Good luck!

    3. Corporate Drone

      I’m making the assumption that you’re young, don’t own a house, or have any kids. Go. You will never regret it.

      A 46 YO minimalist colleague quit last year and joined the Peace Corps for a second tour. He emailed me a few weeks ago, and said he has no desire to ever go back to corporate life.

    4. Amanda

      How did I miss this question until now?

      I traveled for six months between Peace Corps (have you thought about that?) and starting the job search at home. And it turned out to be a help in getting my upcoming job, but this job is for an international student exchange organization so extensive travel is what they look for. With less internationally based organizations, the resulting gap may have been a hinderance (I was never grilled about it but did have a long job search and not many interviews). Either way, I wouldn’t have traded traveling for all the job offers in the world.

      Is there any way you can tie in your career path to the traveling.

      1. Amanda

        The last sentence was meant to be a question, not a statement.

        Is there any way you can tie in your career path to the traveling?

    5. Ralish

      I’m currently doing this! And, in my biased opinion, it’s well-worth some risk. I would love to hear some advice on how others have managed job-searching once they return.

      You might want to look at whether your current company would let you freelance from the road. Good luck!

  32. Blinx

    Any tips in dealing with job hunting burnout? I was laid off more than a year ago. I’m trying to follow all of the advice that I get here, but no offers so far. I’m applying for a range of positions in my field… some that I’m over/under qualified for, and many that are spot on. I know that I don’t have a choice — I have to get a job, but I am just so sick of the whole process.

    1. A Bug!

      Do you set aside a day or two a week to treat as “weekends” where you don’t do anything job-hunting wise (and try your best not to think about it, either)? If you don’t, try that. Your job-hunt is a full-time job, but even full-time jobs give you days off.

      1. Anonymous

        Second this. I went through a longish job hunt last year and generally tried not to do anything job-hunt related on weekends unless it was unavoidable. Having that structured week with some built-in time off did help. I can totally sympathize — when I finally got an offer I was happy to have a job but also thrilled to not have to job-hunt anymore because I was so sick of the process.

        1. Blinx

          I’ll have to try the weekend thing. I’ll also have to look for some way of jump-starting the whole search, like a reset.

          As time goes on, I’m gradually lowering my standards, to the point where I’d be lucky to land a job that paid HALF of what I previously earned. Emotionally, it’s really starting to take its toll, though, and I’m wondering if I did the right thing. Maybe I should have gone after/accepted a lower paying job last year, instead of trying to hold out, and ending up with it anyway.

          1. A Bug!

            Kill two birds with one stone. Start your weekend now and don’t think about your job search until Monday morning at 10.

            Find something you’ve been meaning to do around the house and throw yourself into it on Saturday, kick your feet up on Sunday, and then on Monday, dress as if you’re going to work even if you’re staying in. And make sure to occasionally look at whatever it was you got done on the weekend just as proof that hey, you can do stuff! You’re awesome!

          2. ThursdaysGeek

            I hear you on that! I was only unemployed for about 7 months, but I accepted a job at a pay rate that I wouldn’t even apply for at first. I’m back where I was about 15 years ago.

  33. Jenner

    Weird question…
    Has anyone used/heard of the expression “You give good phone”?
    I ask because my boss says that to me all.the.time. I appreciate the compliment, but that particular choice of wording seems almost sexual in nature. Any time he overhears me on a phone call with a client, or is cc’d on an email with a client, he goes on and on about how I give such good phone or email. It wouldn’t be so bothersome if he wasn’t weird in other ways as well (that’s a whole other story). The point is pretty much moot, since I’m leaving soon for another job, but I was curious if this was a common expression, or if I was letting his other weirdness cloud my perception of this particular comment.

      1. A Bug!

        Agreed. There’s an obvious and undeniable connection here to either oral or phone sex. The boss may not mean anything by it – some people just tend to be a bit raunchy – but it’s really oblivious of him to not consider how something like that would be perceived in a workplace between a boss and a subordinate.

        If you’d had the chance the first time it happened, it would have been a good place for the “genuine confusion” face – “I’m sorry, I… what?” (And I don’t say this as a criticism of your own reaction, as it is probably the same as mine would be in the same circumstances. L’esprit de l’escalier, etc etc.)

        But failing that, at any point it would be appropriate to say “Hey, I know you’re trying to compliment me here on my people skills but when you word it that way it makes me feel like a prostitute.”

    1. Blinx

      I agree — creepy, as well as grammatically incomplete. Not sure which issue would bother me more…

      1. A Bug!

        I’m sure lots of people use it in a non-sexual way, but I can’t see any way that the origin of the phrase isn’t a direct play on “give good head”. Which means it’s a phrase that should be used carefully and with keen regard to context.

        If I’m wrong here and the true origin of the phrase “give good phone” is unrelated to a sexual act then I’d still hold the opinion that it should be carefully used, out of a desire to avoid someone coming away with the wrong impression (as multiple people have here in comments).

        See also the word ‘niggardly’ and why you’re better off just saying ‘stingy’ when you want to say ‘stingy.’

        1. Jenner

          This.

          I’m sure he doesn’t mean anything by it, but there are so many other ways an elderly male can compliment a younger female and avoid this perception. He says weird/inappropriate things all the time, and while he’s not hitting on me directly and I don’t feel at all threatened, it’s just weird and uncomfortable. He’s actually a very nice guy, and brilliant at what he does, but has zero boundaries.

    2. Forrest Rhodes

      Did nobody here ever see the very funny ’70s movie “Silver Streak”? If not, you should; it’s yet another excellent Colin Higgins screenplay. George (Gene Wilder) and Hilly Burns (Jill Clayburgh) are both, separately, traveling from L.A. to Chicago by train. When they’re semi-accidentally seated at the same table in the dining car, Hilly asks George to fill out her dinner order menu. The exchange goes something like this:
      Hilly: Here, you do mine; your printing is so neat.

      Hilly: My printing is horrible. I can’t type, I don’t take dictation, and even I can’t read my handwriting.
      George, still printing her menu: Oh? What do you do?
      Hilly: I’m a secretary.
      George looks up, surprised, and smiles: Then how do you keep your job?
      Hilly, looking directly at him: I give great phone.

      Every time I saw the film this got laughs from the audience. Movie’s worth seeing—there’s much more to the story than a train-trip romance, and how can you miss with Clayburgh, Wilder, Richard Pryor (this was the first Wilder/Pryor film), and Scatman Crothers, on top of a Higgins script?

      Okay, sorry I digressed. This concludes the “Movies You Really Oughta See” discussion. Please leave your popcorn boxes in the trash barrel as you exit …

    3. AP

      I think it went mainstream when Kelly Cutrone said it on one of her many reality tv shows a few years ago.

  34. Amanda

    I recently landed a seasonal position with my dream organization! The job starts next month and runs until September. Obviously, that means I’m going to be looking for a new position while still employed at this job. How should I present the job on my resume so it’s clear that it’s a job with a definite end date and that it’s not a regular job that I’m looking to leave after just a month or two?

    1. RLS

      I work in a similar field where seasonal positions are the norm. When listing on a resume, in the past I described the position as “Seasonal full-time” and the dates, or noted “(seasonal)” after my position.

    2. RLS

      I also want to add that if you’re working for the company I’m thinking of, and you’re part of a particular undergrad program with that organization, it’s universally known and recognizable, so I don’t think you’d be in any danger of looking like a job-hopper or anything.

      1. Amanda

        I doubt we are talking about the same organization and I’m far from an undergrad. But I’ll list it the way you suggested!

  35. Lisa M

    This may be a philosophical question more than anything, but I’d really like to know everyone’s opinion:

    Most employers seem to view ‘leave’ as a negative; they seem to only see the loss from a productivity/cash flow basis. Which I think is a shame, because I believe that, for most employees, if they are experiencing a situation that requires that they take leave, then they need support, not approbation.

    Abuses can occur, yes. But good record-keeping can help, as does performance management and clear conversations about expectations.

    But maybe I am missing something. So I ask, what are the negatives for an employer? Why do employers get so nasty about giving employees leave time (FMLA, PTO, etc.) Again, I understand that it can be a matter of lost productivity, but that can be worked around, right? I mean, can’t you just reward the ones who pick up the slack (for the person on leave)?

    I fully admit that I might be hopelessly naive. I’ve managed a number of employees through situations where they needed leave or ‘slack’ for months at a time and haven’t had a problem. Maybe I’m just lucky?

    1. kbeers0su

      As a mid-level staff member, I’m the only person who does what I do for my organization. So while I’m out on leave right now others have had to step in and do some of my work to keep it moving. That means that those folks aren’t putting as much time into what they do. From my perspective that shouldn’t be on my shoulders- people should be cross-trained or there should be more than one of me, or whatever. But I also know that the organization is in a budget crunch (because who isn’t) so those things aren’t necessarily possible. So I think as the employer, my boss is kind of stuck with no real options…which might be why he’s not so hot on the idea of leave.

    2. Bonnie

      This might sound harsh but I don’t see it as that simple.

      The employee requesting leave has a full time job and any employee picking up the slack also has a full time job. What does picking up the slack mean for the other employees? How many employees will it take to really do the work of the employee on leave and do it right? Or maybe when you say loss of productivity you are not talking about the other employees taking longer to do the job because it is not their regular job but just not doing the job to the same level because there is an employee on leave?

      I’m not saying no one should get to go on leave but I am saying that when someone asks my first thought is how are we going to do all of this person’s work without another person or without abusing the relationship with our other employees.

      I have just spent the last week wading through the comments on another site about women with and without children. The childless women on the site talked about it being taken for granted that they would just take up the slack. It is not about not supporting the employee that needs leave. I wouldn’t want to foster resentment in my team by assuming they don’t have a problem with the additional workload. Most people are good about jumping into help in an emergency but how long does that good will last when their increased workload starts to intrude on their own life outside work?

      1. Mike C.

        It’s the employer’s job to manage headcount and turnover. The fact that the childfree folks are having to pick up the slack is simply ridiculous.

  36. Chinook - Chocolate Teapot Social Coordinator

    Jamie – I am going to create your nightmare and plan a virtual Tea Party. Of course, it will be a mandatory potluck with entertainment provided by coworkers (I have drawn the line at karaoke, though). I am still looking for a knuckle cracker to play Twinkle, Twinkle and I know we had a volunteer manualist.

    Who is in and what are you bringing and performing?

    1. A Bug!

      As long as that Klingon-belching Anonymous makes an appearance, you can put me on the guest list.

    2. Christine

      I’m in too!! But….no snack bag cracklers or loud chewers please :)

      As for entertainment – I can name all of the top two of each American Idol season, IN ORDER!

      1. A Bug!

        Nope, sorry, the seating arrangements will be entirely (quiet chewer) (loud chewer) (quiet chewer) (loud chewer). This is non-negotiable.

        1. Jamie

          I have no talent, but I do chew quietly and insist on ear plugs if you insist on this torturous seating arrangement.

          1. Chinook - Chocolate Teapot Social Coordinator

            Nope, no ear plugs for you Jamie. You are the guest of honour. On the plus side, you get to choose the type of cake and the main drink ;)

      2. Kelly O

        I can recite the prologue to The Canterbury Tales in Old English.

        Thank you, Mrs. Vest, wherever you are.

        1. KellyK

          You mean Middle English, right?

          /nitpick

          I’ll bring the popcorn, and entertain everyone by talking at length about my many D&D characters.

      1. Chinook - Chocolate Teapot Social Coordinator

        T-shirts yes but, since it is a mandatory party, the only way someone could be uninvited is if they were fired that day (maybe for spending some alone time in the server room?)

    3. ThursdaysGeek

      No, no, if you have a manualist, I’ll come — I can’t hand-fart “Stars and Stripes Forever” myself.

      However, I’ll bring the Dilmah tea, whole milk, and sugar in the raw. It’s a tea party, after all.

      With a bit of work, I’ll be able to again recite the story of Ladle Rat Rotten Hut.

    4. short geologist

      Ooh ooh! My sweetie has a bad knee and can make a very distinctive, very loud grinding noise with it.

      Does this tea party include interpretive dancing? He’d be excellent.

  37. C

    Tips on handling sharp but constructive and good intentioned criticism when I don’t have my normal day to mope and mull? Received feedback from my diss supervisor and it is completely legitimate and very helpful but I’ve worked my whole holiday and am feeling a bit overwhelmed. Also said goodbye to my dad until Christmas (I live abroad) and am headed home tomorrow so feel like I’ve gotten hit with a double whammy.

    1. Runon

      Try thinking about the intentions of the person and think about them talking about the paper, the work. They want you, the person, to be successful enough that they will give you feedback on the paper, the work.

      Also try to pick out one or two small tasks that can be accomplished easily or do something that will get you positive feedback even if it isn’t exciting. (For me this is always the …customer servicey aspect of my job. I do something to make someone’s job easier and they say thanks even though it is sort of a poor use of my time.)

    2. Kate

      I’m working on this, too. Here’s some advice others have given me that I’ve found useful:

      Remember you’re getting feedback because you are valuable to your organization, and the quality of your work matters. Constructive criticism can hurt, but it’s a much better sign than being ignored by your boss.

      The fact that you care about feedback reflects well on you. No, it’s not good to let it ruin your day. But it means that you care about your work and have high expectations for yourself. Try to let it motivate you rather than demoralizing you. (E.g. “I’m going to use my boss’ feedback and be the best employee, damn it!” vs. “Ugh, why bother if I’m not naturally great at this.”)

      Similarly, if criticism hurts because you’re competitive, decide to be the best at handling and using feedback.

      Schedule times to receive feedback, like at the end of a project or quarterly. It’s easier to hear criticism if you go into a meeting expecting it than if it feels like an ambush.

      And finally, if it feels like you’re getting lots of small criticisms, remember that for some people it’s easier to say “don’t do X” than “do Y and Z.” It’s annoying to be on the receiving end of, but a lot of people don’t know what they want until they see in front of them what they don’t want. This is especially true if your work is at all creative.

      Good luck!

      1. Lindsay

        Not the person who asked the question, but these are awesome tips!

        I just got a job at a photography studio, and am currently getting a lot of constructive criticism as I learn the ropes of posing people and what makes good photographs and how to make good sales. I know everything is done with the best of intentions and I feel like I’m pretty good at taking feedback externally, but internally sometimes I feel a little demoralized because I’m used to being naturally good at things and I am out of my element.

        I think these tips will help me with my mental state with dealing with constructive criticism while I get up to speed.

  38. Anon right now

    I would love some tips on the professional aspects of handling a relationship ending. The basics – we’ve been together for a long time but aren’t married, live together, no kids or big shared property. We’re in couples counseling but I don’t know how that will ultimately go. It feels bigger than “we broke up” but smaller than “I’m getting divorced” and I’m really not looking forward to the parts where this will necessarily intersect with my work life. I’m in a pretty small office so I don’t know if I can just not mention it to anyone.

    1. Runon

      Practice. It might sound silly but practice saying it. Saying something quick and easy, “we aren’t together any more”. I’d also try to take a couple days off especially if you have to move. I had something similar. I actually told my boss in a very informal or casual way and then I told someone else who is a huge gossip. Hey this was a thing, not a thing anymore, it’s good, I’m good, how about that new copier. Word was spread without me having to say much else. It is only important if you talked about that person at work. If you didn’t you don’t need to mention it at all.

      1. Meg

        I actually second this. I usually like to avoid gossip, but when I was dealing with a similar situation, I told the biggest blabbermouth in the office, and never had to explain it again. Problem solved.

    2. Kaz

      I’m not really clear why your coworkers need to know about this. If you routinely share details of your lives with your coworkers, that would certainly be appropriate, but if you’re not going to need time off, not going to be emotional at work, etc, it isn’t their business. You could take a personal day or two if you think you won’t be calm at work.

      1. Anon right now

        Unfortunately I will need time off, and I’m not sure I can honestly say I will never be emotional at work. And it’s such a small office that we know all the details of each others lives, so it’s going to come up at some point.

      2. S.L. Albert

        I think Anon might be referring to more casual conversation (“Oh, did you X go to that concert?”) or things like the dreaded Christmas party (“I assume X is going to be your plus one again this year?”).

  39. AnonEngineer

    About a month ago I helped to hire a temporary employee to cover the critical tasks for my position while I’m out on maternity leave. It was a difficult role to fill (4 months total – 1 training + 3 while I’m on leave), for less than I’m making + no benefits – and we only ended up with 3 candidates. I think I took the best of the bunch, but…

    We’re nearing the end of the month of training and to date he’s not been able to complete a single task correctly. I’ve written step-by-step instructions (with bullet points! and video of the tasks being done). I have a calendar with on date X do task Y. I’ve “done one” (with the instructions open on the second screen) while he watched and took extra notes, and then talked through doing the next, sent him off to his computer, and it was as if a monkey with a typewriter tried to do it when we reviewed it together (it also took him 1 hr+ to do this 5min task)

    The worst part? All he says is “I understand” “I see what I did wrong – that won’t happen again” AND THEN IT DOES.

    In addition to what he’s doing (about 1/3 to 1/2 of my time in a normal month) I’m trying to document the status/instructions for all the other things I’m responsible for so that my boss can field questions/other groups can check the FAQ while I’m out. I don’t have time to constantly supervise him (and when I spent time doing that – it didn’t help, I still got the “I understands”)

    Now my problem is, he gave all the right answers in an interview:
    “How do you deal with large data sets?”
    “What sort of experience do you have with databases?”
    etc. etc.
    But can’t seem to manage a checklist (“Which of these projects are up-to-date?” – “What’s the status of the others?”) and it’s leading to things slipping through the cracks and other things being done multiple times (and then they have to be checked, figured out why they’re messed up and UNDONE).

    Note – I’ve also provided checklists to use

    I just feel like I messed up big-time in the hiring process, and want to know a) what I could have done better and b) if there’s any way to salvage this or if I should just resign myself to a mess when I get back.

    1. A Bug!

      There are some things that aren’t apparent in an interview. When a person knows what to do but can’t be relied upon to do it, that’s something that won’t always be apparent in an interview. Ideally it would be apparent in reference checks, but in some cases it may not. Sometimes bad hires are just a thing that happens, so don’t beat yourself up.

      1. AnonEngineer

        I think what’s getting to me is that if he were a permanent hire, he’d be in the probationary period, and given the total lack of improvement, we’d probably let him go. But the department has requirements that have to be met (however badly?) for the 3 months I’m out, and we had 1 monthly cycle to train someone.

    2. COT

      Does your boss know about the problems you’re having with this guy? It really sounds like you’re doing everything right; even great managers occasionally hire people who really don’t work out. I worry that this guy may end up being worse than having no one in the position at all, especially if your boss isn’t aware that he/she may need to provide more oversight than they do for you.

      Have you tried being blunt with this employee? You might need to have a conversation: “You say you understand, but you are making the same mistakes over and over again. By this time I expect you to be working independently on X, Y, Z, core tasks. How can we approach this differently to make sure that you succeed?”

    3. Rose

      For the interviewing process, try an assessment next time. We use a few different kinds depending on the type of position. Proveit.com has a bunch of good ones to choose from. Or you could create your own employment test and have all of the candidates perform some of the same tasks they would need to be able to perform on the job. Obviously they would need training, but you can screen for these basic skills that someone would need in order to be successful.

      1. AnonEngineer

        My boss and I have been meeting weekly since the start, and near daily in the last week or so on this.

        The main problem we have is that the work has a monthly cycle – repeated over dozens of projects we track. So we did a “mock-up” together before April started, then the real deal for April together, and (knock on wood) I’ll still be in for the first part of May to do it again.

        Honestly, I didn’t see this lack of organization/inability to deal with data or numbers as a problem that could even HAPPEN. We’ve had college interns (3 in the last year) who can deal with this stuff with 4 hours of instruction + weekly check-ins. I asked about similar experience (he had it) and with working 7+ years, geez. We would have gone with a college intern for the summer, but were worried about not having enough time to train them.

        1. Willow

          Maybe try contacting your former interns and see if one is willing to come back for a temporary, paid position?

        2. Lynne

          I think – if you’re able to – you’d be better off hiring someone else and rushing them through the training than sticking with this guy. Even if you don’t have much time to train a new person, they’d be able to refer to the instructions you created (which sound pretty thorough), and they might still do a better job than this guy. It seems unlikely they’d do a worse one…

          I don’t suppose any of your previous interns are available / looking for work for the summer? Rehiring one of them might help with the issue of not having much training time.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            I agree. Or go to a staffing agency. This guy sounds like he’ll be worse than someone without training would be. Someone great will pick up the job even without a month of training.

          2. Jamie

            This. And have the new candidates do some of the tasks. When I got my job they didn’t take my word I could run a SQL query – I showed them.

  40. Noelle

    Advice on how to deal with a former boss? Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

    A few years ago, I left a job that was absolutely terrible. My boss was incredibly mean and unprofessional, and towards the end of my time there we weren’t even on speaking terms. Needless to say, I was very relieved when I found a new job. I managed to leave professionally and not completely burn the relationship, which unfortunately is the problem.

    My new job is at a much larger organization with a better reputation, and my former employer is constantly asking me for favors because of it. My boss (or more usually, he’ll ask one of his employees to do it, since he still hates speaking to me) ask me to send information that is not yet public, ask other departments what they’re working on, and have even asked me to use my position to get documents and information from outside organizations that would ignore them if they asked. I never comply with these requests because they’re unethical, but even if they were I don’t really feel like helping out an organization that literally drove me into therapy to cope with the terribleness of working there.

    Today, my former boss gave out my private cell phone number to an employee, so the employee could ask me for confidential documents. I am fed up. It has been over two years, and while I usually just explain that I can’t help them, I am tired of dealing with this. Is there any way to politely tell them that no, I will not help, and I don’t wish to be contacted at all? Has anyone else had a similar case, and what is the best course of action?

    1. Mike C.

      TELL YOUR BOSS NOW!!!

      Holy crap, this is an incredibly serious ethical situation, and the last thing you want is to be implicated in this. You haven’t done anything wrong, but you need to lay everything out in the open to ensure that your boss knows the full and true story.

      Do it this afternoon, this is a serious problem!

      1. Noelle

        Is it something my current employer needs to get involved in? I’ve been hesitant to say anything to them because the problem is with my past employer and I haven’t shared any information with them.

        1. Jane Doe

          Your current boss needs to know because if someone else tells him first and he finds out that you knew about this (even thought you did not comply with the requests), he’s going to wonder why you didn’t come to him when it first became an issue. This is something he’ll want to know about.

        2. Mike C.

          YES!

          What your former employer is asking of you could be violations of federal law, depending on what the information is, and if they’re trading on that information or even if your boss is not (or is representing) a non-US citizen. There are also proprietary information laws to consider as well.

          Look, you’ve been put into a bad spot here, but you haven’t done anything wrong. Tell your current boss everything you’ve told us, and then you need to stop taking your former boss’s calls.

          Do you want your boss wondering why s/he was never informed? Just say, “Look, I was trying to take care of this without bothering you but it’s starting to really get out of hand and at the point in time I think you need to be informed about this. I need your help and advice on how to proceed in an ethical (and possibly legal) manner.”

          Do this today. If your boss is on leave, write an email. Make a call if you can, whatever it takes.

        3. Malissa

          Involved in? Maybe. If your company is listed on a stock exchange your former boss is trying to get insider information and that is criminal, the company has to level charges. At the very least they would want to issue a cease and desist letter. Well they’d want to do that if the former boss is after trade secrets as well.
          So yes, your boss is offending against your company, let them know!

        4. The Other Dawn

          Yes, do it now! You don’t want to remain silent and then something happens down the line and your name comes up. Everyone will be asking, “Why didn’t she say anything?” And that opens the door to a whole host of problems.

    2. Runon

      Shake, shake, shake. The AAM 8Ball says: Be direct.

      This is not something I can assist you in. Public information on this can be found at website. Please do not request this information from me again.

      1. COT

        Agreed: you’re being too nice. Stop being polite. Be civil, but firm. “I can’t answer phone calls from you or your employees any more. Please don’t share my personal information with them.”

        Then stop answering the phone, stop responding to their messages, block your boss’ number if you have to.

        1. Noelle

          That was the approach I am leaning towards. I don’t want to burn bridges with anyone who might be a reference down the line, but I also don’t trust them to give me a good reference anyway and their inappropriateness is ridiculous.

          1. Runon

            I’d be very direct. I don’t know that going to your new boss is needed yet. If you are and they push harder or try to get around it other ways then yes. But for now you may have just not been clear enough about No, I won’t do this. This isn’t ok.

          2. Mike C.

            Look, the emphasis on “keeping good references” doesn’t apply to situations like these. There is no reference in the world that’s worth this. Stop taking their calls. Don’t give a long winded explanation, hang up on them. Don’t talk to them, don’t explain, don’t make excuses, nothing. Don’t talk to anyone about this except your boss.

            And us, we need updates. But your boss comes first. :)

          3. Natalie

            The thing about dealing with crazy people is that they are crazy – they’re are not making decisions about how they act on any sort of rational basis. A crazy former boss could turn on you at any point, for any reason, so continuing to attempt to be nice to them isn’t actually protecting you from anything. You could give them everything you want, and then something will turn in their brain and they’ll still decide you are the worst. employee. ever. The safest route is to not engage.

      2. Blinx

        LOVE the AAM 8Ball!! What other answers would there be?
        — They’re a bad boss
        — That’s bad advice
        — ???

    3. Mary

      I had a similar issue where former managers called me up and asked me for boilerplate contracts, documents that they had worked on etc. I told them that it was against company policy for me (and could result in me getting fired) to give these documents to anyone outside the company. I also replied per HR policy, I was to contact HR if any former employees or outsiders from the company asked me for any type of confidential documents.

      I would maybe tell the next person who calls that you will contact your Legal department who will in turn send a letter to the CEO of your former company asking these calls to stop.

    4. -X-

      Just tell the employee to stop. It’s not complicated. “I can’t give you that information, it’s not public. Please don’t ask for that sort of information again.”

      “Is there any way to politely tell them that no, I will not help, and I don’t wish to be contacted at all? ”

      Say “I can’t give you that sort of information, it’s not public. Please do not contact me again.”

      1. -X-

        I wouldn’t. Tell my contacts my number changed because of calls I didn’t want to take? No way.

        If the calls were so often to be annoying after that, I’d escalate with the old boss, or perhaps talk to a lawyer friend or police.

    5. Jamie

      Why are you still taking their calls? Block the number and if they use another or get through just tell he to stop calling and hang up. I don’t understand why you engage in any conversation at all?

  41. The Snarky B

    I need help! I always feel like I’m running from place to place and I am Always Late! I’m not a morning person and I need to learn how to be one in the next couple months as I start to enter the workforce/professional level internships. As of now, I got to bed at 2 and sleep til 9, getting to class (grad school) or my part time job around 11am and it’s perfect for me, but the real world doesn’t work that way! Assistance?
    If it helps:
    – I’m in NYC
    – I’m a woman (and getting dressed takes forever for me)
    – I’m in the mental health field
    – I have a dog (and getting him all set takes forever)

    1. Runon

      Change your schedule today. Don’t take weekends off. Don’t just sleep in today because you can. The human body is remarkably adaptable and you will adapt to a earlier schedule if you stick to it and don’t continue to go to bed at the super late time and get up early too.

      Also decide on your clothes the night before. Having a personal uniform helps too if that is a serious problem.

    2. Kaz

      Getting dressed – you can lay out your clothes the night before, or buy clothes that don’t need to be “matched” – ie all black bottoms and colorful tops, or whatever suits you.

      Your dog will live if you adapt him to a shorter routine.

      I am also not a morning person and so I try to reduce the number of things that HAVE to be done in the morning. I shower at night, have easy to pick out clothes, lunch already in the lunchbox, etc.

      I am also frequently late and I have found that often this is because I don’t correctly estimate how much time I need to do things. Like “oh it’ll only take five minutes to drive to the store”, wrong, it takes eight minutes each way and I’m usually in the store a minimum of ten minutes. Figure out how much time you are really taking to do things and give yourself plenty. Don’t try to squeeze in any more than necessary.

      1. Jen in RO

        This is also why I’m always late. “Oh 10 minutes on the subway to get to work” – except I miss the subway and I remember I have to get coffee on the way and oops, 20 minutes.

      2. Jamie

        Clothes the night before – Yes!

        I am not a morning person and I hate standing in front of my closet before dawn staring blankly waiting for something to jump out at me.

        What I need is a haircut that would save me time in the morning. Takes forever.

    3. SweetMisery

      Pick out your outfits the night before. Picking an outfit should not take forever, and once you’ve been working awhile, you eventually know that X pants work with A, B, and C shirts. Start going to bed earlier. Have dog stuff as prepared as you can. Add an hour to your morning for the first couple weeks, until you know how long everything takes you.

      When I first started my job, I would be so early that I would just hang out in my car for 45min until it was reasonable to walk in.

    4. Four Border Collies

      Get the Kongs frozen the night before, lay out your clothes, make your lunch, get the dog food ready, keep spare leashes at the door. I manage, and I don’t sleep in on weekends, I am at the agility trial. Nights I have agility practice. Lunchtimes I read agility books. Late evenings we all (the dogs and me) watch agility videos. Can you tell I am a bit obsessive? If I can find the time, you can too! Take a look at “I’ll be home soon” by Pat McConnell for tips. Five minutes of intense games/training beats an hour walk.

    5. The IT Manager

      Get enough sleep. You’re new set schedule which happens every day (don’t take weekends off) should include not only a set wakeup but a set bed time that gives you 7 hours (or whatever your daily need) of sleep.

      Also light impacts my sleep a lot. You may want to darken the room with blackout curtains and dimming or turning off other electronic devices that emit light or going to sleep if you’re trying to go to sleep much earlier. And then look into a wake up light clock. Or just turn a light on even if you can’t resist falling back into bed after the first alarm goes off.

      Plus what others have said about doing as much as possible the night before.

      1. Natalie

        There are some programs that will also change the lighting of your laptop to a more yellow shade (apparently blue light = wake up to the average human). I use f.lux and I think it has helped.

      2. Chinook

        I agree about light impacting your sleep, but it also impacts how you wake up. I live in a northern area where, in winter, it is still dark at 8 or 9 am some weeks and those are the hardest days to wake up. Invest in an alarm clock that wakes you up with light as well as sound. I can only find ugly ones, but the lack of aesthetics is worth being able to wake up easily in the morning, especially since they start to light up 15 minutes beforehand.

        Then, once you are up, make sure you turn your lights on where ever you go. If you can get those fancy bulbs that mimic daylight, put those in whichever rooms you go into. Basically, you are trying to trick you body into thinking it is later in the day so you feel more awake.

      3. Evan the College Student

        What helps me get to sleep sometimes is covering my eyes with a fold of the bedsheet or an eyeshade. (Some eyeshades have sleep medicines mixed in, but others don’t – I always use the second sort.) You might try that before blackout curtains, since it’s a lot cheaper and simpler.

    6. Malissa

      Start getting up earlier now. Adjust your schedule so that you go to bed an hour earlier and wake up an hour earlier. Gradual adjustments are best for the body. Or you could just suck it up and be overly caffeinated if you have to switch suddenly to a new schedule. You’d be surprised how quickly your body can adapt.
      For going to bed earlier avoid caffeine a few hours before bed and try doing something that signals your body to unwind. DVR the shows you used to watch while up late and play them earlier or what ever works for you.

    7. KellyK

      What is it with the dog that takes forever? Is it the walk? Getting him crated for the day? My big time-killer in the mornings is finding the Kong to put in the dog crate (so I need to take Four Border Collies’s suggestion). For other things, there might be a training solution. For example, if he doesn’t want to go in the crate, or won’t pee until you’ve walked a mile, then that’s a behavior thing you can work on. If it’s an energy thing, like he needs a really long walk in the morning, maybe more evening exercise or hiring someone to walk him during the day would help.

      One general thing that might help is to list all the things you normally do in the morning, how long each one really takes (not how long it “should” take), how essential it is to your day, and if it could be done the night before or not. Include everything that’s part of your morning routine, whether it’s an actual “task” or not (e.g., “Check Facebook while coffee kicks in, 10 minutes).

      That should show you where the big time-killers are, and you can figure out whether you want to eliminate them, move them around, etc.

      1. Four Border Collies

        Freeze the Kong, they last longer that way. And yes, absolutely, everyone should teach their dog to pee on leash and on command. Deny access to something they want (petting? play? chewie? agility yard!), until they “hurry up”. You’ll need to train it though. Go out, give command, don’t go, inside into a crate or timeout area. Repeat, and have fabulous treats and I mean steak to celebrate success.

        Should I start a blog called “Ask a Dog Trainer” I wonder….

        1. Meghan

          Four Border Collies,

          I have a 1 y/o St. Bernard who barks at the neighbor dogs like a mad man. Any tips on how to break this?

          Thank you!

            1. AP

              hautedawgs.com! That is so cute! (I say this as someone who will never have a pet but awwwwww)

              1. Four Border Collies

                hautedawgs.ORG we are a….wait for it…NON PROFIT. lol. Most dog clubs are non-profit. When we make too much money we give it away to local dog charities.

                1. The Snarky B

                  Four Border Collies,
                  Thanks got the tips. Btw your About Agility page says:
                  this page should have links to abbadogs, bayteam, tracs, wag, and ???

                  maybe the publicly available newsletters should go here.

    8. College Career Counselor

      Have someone set ALL your clocks ahead by some chunk of time (preferably not the same amount). Works best if you don’t know which one is right/how much “extra” time you have. Treat the times as real and make it your goal to be out the door by Xam.

    9. Hlx Hlx

      Being in NYC will help you – in that if you need them, dog sitters/walkers are cheaper there than in many other places. Good for when you’re in a pinch or are still trying to adjust.

      (This is just my personal experience, of course.)

    10. KayDay

      I have a light in my room that is on a timer–it comes on about 30 minutes before my alarm goes off, and stays on though out my morning.

      Also, instead of the regular iphone alarm, I use Yocto clock, which has some more “gentle” alarm sounds and a fade in feature. I also have a hungry cat, who ensures that I do eventually up.

      I’m not a morning person, so I try to do as little in the morning as possible. I wash my hair and try to pick out my outfit for the next day the night before.

      Also, personally (ymmv) I have found that, contrary to a lot of advice, it’s much easier for me to get out the door a lot earlier than a little bit earlier–i.e. it was easier to adjust from waking up at 10 in college to walking out the door at 8:15 for my internship than it was to go from walking out the door at 8:15 to leaving at 8am sharp. So I’d suggest making one big change (a few days a head of time–you can use that day to time your commute) and drinking some extra coffee that day, vs. trying to adjust little by little.

    11. TheSnarkyB

      Thanks everyone for the suggestions – keep ’em comin’!

      With regards to the: “Go to bed earlier. Wake up earlier.” sentiment I’m seeing here – Yes, I know. Easier said than done though.

      And how do y’all have a have 45 minutes just sitting around to spare? Aren’t people busy?

      (feel free to respond – my name is snarkyB for a reason – shut me down if I’m misunderstanding the suggestions here)

      and Hlx Hlx – I don’t know how people do the dog walking thing. You just give someone you don’t know the keys to your apartment? Seriously? (I’m serious – it doesn’t logically seem like there’s any other way to get it done, it just… doesn’t make any sense to me.)

      to the dog questions: Once I take him out, I don’t want to bring him back in, I just feel guilty knowing that he’s gonna be alone even though he gets about an hour in the dog park most mornings.

      1. Natalie

        Regarding the guilt, having a dogwalker would help with that since you know someone is going to come midday and see Fido.

        Some dogs also like the radio or TV sounds – they like the sounds of human voices. NPR on a low volume shouldn’t bother your neighbors but will keep your dog company.

      2. Hlx Hlx

        There are folks who are bonded and insured and all that. I got a rec from someone who used a certain person and was very satisfied.

        I also have some goofy CDs that I put on for my dog – they’re called Through a Dog’s Ear – it’s classical piano that’s supposed to be very soothing. Seems to help.

      3. Runon

        Hey, you asked.

        No I’m not busy. Busy isn’t a virtue. I enjoy my day and don’t need to be busy every single moment of every single day. And that is a virtue in my life. Having tons of extra 45 minutes here and there.

        Getting up and ready for work takes 30 minutes, 45 if I shower in the am rather than the pm. I don’t have a dog to walk every day but I have an occasional puppy visitor and even when she was there I gave myself an hour and didn’t really need it.

        I plan things out in advance like what I’m going to wear which even when I don’t know before I go to bed takes me 2 minutes. How long does it take you to get dressed?

        For the puppy I do know that NYC has cheap pet walkers, get someone to walk your pet, even 3 days a week. Your dog will adjust if you stop being stressed about it. You feeling bad is making your dog feel bad.

        1. TheSnarkyB

          Hmm all good points.
          So tell me about this “not busy” concept – how does that work?
          How do you make yourself less busy while balancing work, personal life, maybe school, family demands, keeping up with the news, managing your finances, etc.?

          1. Runon

            The first step is to stop thinking about being busy as a virtue in and of itself.

            Then just like money I figure out what my priorities are and schedule my time around it without feeling bad that something that is important to me is that I never do anything Saturday mornings because it is the time I go to the coffee shop and have breakfast and read and if someone asks me if I’m busy during that time, I say I’ve already got plans. But I can do next Tuesday for dinner. (And going out to dinner isn’t 4 hours of talking and then bleeds into other things, it can be just dinner! I have some friends who would really prefer to spend the entire evening doing stuff, me not so much, so we keep it shorter and we all stay happier.)

            I work, I spend time with family, time with friends, other groupy things, I do classes, all the rest. One thing that really helps? I have a job that is extremely rarely over 40 hours a week, and I have a 10 minute walk for a commute. Which is awesomesauce and I was totally willing to take a pay cut for that.

            1. The IT Manager

              +1

              I find myself “busy” because I waste too much time on the internet or TV.

              Also I was up later than I wanted last night because I felt bad leaving my friends during the solcializing. Setting those limits and being able to gracefully leave the group is a skill I have to work on.

              1. Jamie

                If I didn’t turn my computer on I think the internet would miss me. It’s just seems rude to ignore it :).

      4. KellyK

        An hour in the dog park is a pretty good morning for a dog.

        The thing that helped me feel better about leaving my dog alone all day was one day I did work from home. I had this rosy picture in my head of working away with the dog hanging out on the couch next to me, taking her out a few times throughout the day, etc. In reality, right when I would usually be leaving for work, she wandered back to the bedroom and napped on her dog bed, and I didn’t see her til afternoon. As long as he’s getting exercise and social time when you are home and has something to do while you’re gone—and as long as he doesn’t have separation anxiety—your dog probably doesn’t mind being left alone. Dogs are pretty adaptable.

        As far as dog-walkers, if there are other dog owners at the dog park you go to, they might have someone they recommend.

      5. Rana

        One alternative to the “go to bed earlier” advice (which rarely works for me, because then I just lie there awake in the dark until my usual bedtime) is to stay up the entire night first. So, if you normally go to bed around 2am, and want to shift that to, say, 11pm – let’s say this is starting Tuesday – so Tuesday, instead of going to bed at 2am, you just stay up, then go to bed at 11pm Tuesday night, and then get up at the time you want (or earlier if you can manage it) on Wednesday. If you can be outside and in the sun during the day on both Tuesday and Wed. as early as possible, that also helps.

        Another trick is to pay attention to your patterns of sleepiness and wakefulness before your usual crash time, and see if there’s a point where you yawn a bit before getting your second wind. That point would be a good place to set an alternative bedtime.

        Also! If you can get off the computer (or other screens) at least 3-4 hours before planned bedtime, that helps as well.

        Good luck. I’m currently set on a 3am-1pm sleep schedule, so I feel your pain.

        1. Lindsay

          Yes, staying up all night is the only thing that helps when I need to reset my sleep schedule. Otherwise, in your example, I would lay in bed restlessly from 1o:30PM or so until around 1:30AM and it wouldn’t fix anything.

          My sleep cycle tends to drift towards what yours is now. Having a night job it was great but now that I am trying to work normal people hours it is not so great. Funnily enough I can manage 3AM-7AM for several days during the week but then I sleep all through my days off.

    12. Kelly O

      I had issues with this for a bit too, especially when we got to Certain Phases with the daughter.

      Like others have said, do all you can the night before. Make sure your clothes are together and ironed. (Also a good time to make sure buttons are secure, there are no stains you hadn’t previously noticed, etc.) Get stuff ready for your breakfast and lunch. Get your dog’s stuff together and ready to go.

      Also, think about what you’re really doing as far as your routine goes. I have streamlined hair and makeup significantly over the years, and it’s made a difference. How much “maintenance” can you do in the evenings? (Things like double-checking your nails or whatever personal hygiene things you find takes a longer bit of time.)

      I do not agree with setting your clocks to weird times. I know it may work for some, but it messed with my head. That and between radio and television morning news and weather, I knew what time it was without looking anyway.

      I will give you that I don’t understand about what takes so long with the dog. I get you want to play before you leave for the day, but I would assume it’s like having a kid – you get your kid used to what you need to do to get out the door. Play when you can. (And having help is not a bad thing.)

      Also, look at what you do in the mornings. How long do you really spend on Facebook or checking your email? Can you cut that down, or cut it out until you’ve done x, y, or z?

    13. Amanda

      There’s some really great advice here! I don’t really have a problem with lateness, but I do have a problem with time management and often have to scramble to avoid being late-so I show up unfed, unkempt and with my head not really in the game. I’m definitely going to employ of these techniques in my next job.

    14. Kerr

      I recently switched from an approximately 3:00 (AM) bedtime & any-old-time-in-the-morning wake-up time…to waking up at 4:30 (AM), so it can be done, if painfully. What you do is go to bed one night at your regular bedtime, then wake up at your new, “morning person” wake-up time the next day – or split the difference. (I changed gradually. I lack willpower.) Make up your mind that you will be tired (jet-lagged, really) for several days, and then it gets a bit easier.

      Definitely prep everything you can the night before. And, if possible, try to do all the tedious, boring work prep stuff earlier in the evening, even if you feel tired. Ironing, lunch, setting out the next day’s outfit, etc. Get rid of all the work-related tasks over with as soon as possible, or right after dinner, instead of letting them stretch and take over your entire evening. I’ve realized that I want to do the “fun”, relaxing stuff early in the evening, but then I’m scrambling to prep before bed, and then I’m not relaxed enough to sleep.

  42. SweetMisery

    How do people juggle negotiating between two job offers. I just went through it, and the timing was a nightmare! Given how long AAM says it takes to get an offer, how the heck do people coordinate having two on the table at the same time!?!

  43. Backinthegame

    Lately I have been reading AAM almost every day scouring for advice on job hunting and how to handle situations at work and it has been incredibly helpful! I have encountered an unusual problem with an online application system and was hoping for some advice. I work in facilities management and a position opened at a particular building that requires you apply for through the corporate site. I have applied with the company before for other buildings but it was a long time ago. I went to the posting and logged in to apply with my previous log in then it just popped up ” Thank you for applying”– No request to upload materials or verify and this site does not allow you to see what materials were submitted, you only have the option to edit your profile. I went back and edited it– however, I have no idea how this system works or if old materials were sent. Would it be rude or considered annoying to directly contact the HR manager at the actual facility to submit materials because of the confusion with the online system or is that considered not following “instruction”?

  44. Anonymous

    I’d like to know what are the relative percentages of people working in profits vs non-profits. Mainly because it seems like so many posts here mention that. Or perhaps the readership is skewed somehow?

    1. Kaz

      About 10% of the workforce is employed at nonprofits. The readership/questions skewed because AAM’s primary managerial experience is in nonprofits, so more questions are about nonprofits.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I’m actually not sure it’s skewed; we notice it more when people mention they’re at a nonprofit, but I’d bet that no more than 10% of questions published here say that. (Maybe I’m wrong though?)

        The industry that I know is disproportionately represented here is librarians. We have a ton of librarians, which makes me very happy.

        1. Runon

          A basic survey might be very interesting. I’d be willing to fill out a demographics survey for this site.

          1. Jamie

            Regarding the AAM LinkedIn group (small subset of AAM readers overall – 850 members) I’m fascinated by the pretty even split amongst seniority levels. We have about 33% entry level and the others really evenly divided between mid and senior management. Couldn’t have planned such an evenly distributed range.

        2. Four Border Collies

          I used to know a group of librarians called the “Lone Arrangers”, as they all worked solo in small libraries. Librarians are crazy fun people. IT girl here used to program finding aids and etc for libraries.

        3. COT

          I really appreciate all of the nonprofit advice on here; that’s what first drew me to your blog. It’s a unique field in some ways and a lot of business advice isn’t tailored to it. I love that you understand the differences and can adapt your advice when necessary, while still providing excellent advice for the for-profit sector as well.

        4. The IT Manager

          It seems to me that AAM’s readership and commenters skew towards more non-profit employees than the percentages in the real world.

          I’ve always been employed by the federal government (never in DC) and have had little contact with people who work for non-profits or want to. There’s seems to be a ton of them hear on this blog though.

          1. Jamie

            I think it helps dispel a lot of myths. Before I started reading AAM I assumed non-profits were all low paid, but learned here that some pay competitively to get top talent. Also I assumed they were all kinder, gentler workplaces full of camaraderie and shared vision. It was a surprise to learn some are as dysfunctional as those of us scrambling in the for profit world.

  45. Unemployed and Obsessing

    This is really similar to a situation that was posted a week ago but I’m not too sure if the advice posted would be doable in my situation. I had an interview with a place I’ve been volunteering at for some time last week and when I asked about the hiring timeline, they said they would have second rounds with the several directors this week and a final decision soon after. I haven’t heard back from them but the timeline seemed so rushed I wasn’t too worried until I found out that another candidate was interviewing for the second round yesterday (I was around). What also complicates the whole thing is that I already had an interview with the head honcho months ago for this position (but not the other heads). Is it possible they counted this as my second round? (It’s a seriously informal place and the interview process seems really informal as well)

    I don’t feel comfortable asking the person who manages the volunteers because she’s involved in the hiring process (it’s a really small place) and I hate to seem pushy or insecure. Is there anything I can do besides wait? I made the bad bad mistake of falling in love with the position and the uncertainty is driving me up the wall. I initially thought I had done well in the interviews but the more I obsess over this, the more I pick out possible critical mistakes I made both in the process and as a volunteer.

    1. Runon

      I know it is really hard to do this but you have to mentally let it go. I do think that it is worth mentioning to the person you have the relationship with if they are the Hiring Manager. Just wanted to check in and see where you were at in the process. I’d do it via email and just once. If they don’t respond they don’t, if they do they do.

  46. New at this

    How does one determine a good starting point in a salary negotiation? I’m a soon-to-be grad, but I’ve actually held professional level jobs at well respected companies the whole time I’ve been in college. The work even kind of goes along with my major. I’m also graduating with a major in Economics with a good GPA from a good school (not Ivy league, but respected). Does a year of experience translate into a certain dollar amount? And how much do you really consider a college degree to be worth?

    1. Malissa

      Look at jobs posted every where. Many of them will give you an idea of the going salary. The nice thing about number people is that the job postings do tend to have a range. If possible ask a couple of recruiters about the going rate. They’ll tell you if you are asking too high or too low.
      Just know in this economy salaries are down.

    2. Jamie

      A college degree in and of itself is worth nothing monetarily. As a foot in the door it’s worth only what a company is willing to pay you.

      I’m a big fan of education (if I wasn’t paying tuition for two, soon to be three (!) kids I’d be driving a much nicer car) but there is no intrinsic value and I’ve seen people think they should get a raise at work because they completed their degree and were disappointed. If it doesn’t add value to the company they won’t pay extra for it (typically).

  47. Josh S

    My monthly vent session:

    Back in March, I had multiple interviews with a well-respected (in my industry), London-based company that was opening a US office for the first time, for the first position at that company. Multiple interviews as in three interviews in 7 days, all by phone.

    The conversations went well, they told me at the end that they wanted to move me to the final stage (a 2 day mini-project with a presentation at the end to the manager and the manager’s boss), and set up a tentative timeline to schedule things (via a recruiter that I had found the job through). Things were moving FAST and they were excited about opening the US branch, talked about the resources they were dedicating to the office, the sales efforts already being made and the projected expansion of the office over the coming 1- and 3-year periods.

    Then…nothing. The timeline to schedule the mini-project came and went. I reached out to the recruiter to see if there was a change, he said he was getting no response. I followed up myself via email to make sure there was no communications issue through the recruiter, and no response.

    Over the weeks, the recruiter and I talked, but couldn’t get any response from the company. I wrote the position off as being declined.

    That last interview/contact was March 14. Yesterday, April 25, I finally got word through the recruiter that the company changed its plans for a US office and wouldn’t be doing one at all. FORTY-TWO DAYS with no word.

    I don’t understand how any company can be so rude as to let a candidate twist in the wind like that for well over a month without even the courtesy of a note that says, “Hey, we’re reevaluating our timeline for establishing this position/office. Sorry that this is taking longer than we thought. We’ll let you know in a couple weeks (or however long we think it might take).” This is not just a single overworked person letting something fall through the cracks — the recruiter and I had contact with the HR rep, the hiring manager, and the C_O over the position. As a company, they didn’t respond. Jerks.

    Needless to say, I’m sick of being treated like crap by companies that don’t think they need to give candidates the bare minimum of respect. Learn to be professional if you want desirable candidates to want to work for you.

    1. Mike C.

      That’s simply incredible. There’s simply no excuse for asking candidates for that sort of time commitment and then leave them high and dry.

    2. Malissa

      Well that sucks. I had someone call me for an interview in mid-April. I was supposed to hear from them in early March. It would have been to ideal job for me if I was interested in hanging out in my current location. Payed really well too. But I had just accepted an offer that involves a move to a very sunny local with almost no such thing as winter. While it pays less, the location is outstanding.
      I wished the HR lady luck in finding someone.
      Then I almost regretted my decision for the next week.

      1. Josh S

        I’ve filed that company in my “Don’t work for these guys” bin because the management is either inept or the parent company can’t make basic decisions about committing to budget. So no regrets here, even though in a lot of ways the (apparently non-existent) position would have been pretty cool.

      1. Josh S

        Hence my vent session. The company is dead to me, and I’ve moved on (a while ago actually, just the final closure really sealed that they were crappy and not just disorganized).

  48. Sarah

    I have a quick question:

    I work in scientific research and have recently learned from the lead investigator that the budget is tight, and depending a number of factors, I may or may not have a position in a few months. In other words, I may get laid off.

    I told her recently that I’m job searching right (in light of not making the cut for graduate school), and she is alright with that, and almost expected it. Luckily, I managed to land an interview in another laboratory in the same institution I currently work for. If my interviewer inquires about the reasons for my job search, would it be bad practice to mention the possibility of me getting laid off in the future?

    1. COT

      Nope, as long as you can also point to why you’re drawn to and a good fit for the particular position.

    2. Hlx Hlx

      Been there, done that. It’s okay. With the state of research funding what it is, I think places really understand. (I also job searched with my boss’s knowledge and blessing after our funding got slashed. )

  49. Your Mileage May Vary

    I am looking for a professional-type bag or backpack. Ideally, it would be big enough for an iPad as well as some room for personal things. I don’t want to carry more than one bag at a time so it has to be multi-functional. I usually stash a small knitting project in my bag too (and I’ve looked at the more common knitting bags — Jordanna Paige, etc. — but I’m willing to look at more). Color or interesting design is a plus for me too.

    Any ideas?

    1. LMW

      Depends on your price range. There are a few beautiful bags that I love, but they are $200-$400, which is a bit above my price range. I usually just find totes at TJ Maxx or the like.

    2. Chinook

      I got a great Danier leather bag (in cherry red snake skin – unfortunately it is no longer available online) that has two rather large zipper pockets for little things I don’t want to easily loose (like keys, wallet) and a larger section with a magentic close that is big enough for a coffee cup, my ebook, lunch in reusable containers and (in a pinch if I don’t mind them sticking out) a pair of shoes. The handles are long enough to go over a shoulder to easily secure closed with an elbow if I am standing on the bus (so it doesn’t get flung in a neighbours face) yet compact enough to sit on my lap while I read.

    3. Kelly O

      Second TJ Maxx – I got a great London Fog tote in a brown croc print that I adore.

      Also, take a look at Target. They have some really cute business totes with compartments, padded places for laptops, and even longer straps that can be detached. Personally I have never had an issue with quality, and I have some Target bags I have carried for years, and I almost always get compliments on. I’m actually thinking of getting a couple different colors to supplement my tote wardrobe. (I have a toddler, I still have to carry tons of stuff.)

    4. Nancie

      I just bought a bag from rickshawbags.com that I love.

      They have a couple of bags that are specifically designed to carry an iPad, plus extra stuff. I picked the “Messenger for iPad” because it’s customizable and I couldn’t resist picking out the colors. :)

    5. Kristi

      My most recent bag/tote is from Kohl’s, they have a decent selection of sizes to choose from.

    6. Rana

      Some of the Timbuktu bags are pretty nice. Also Baggalini, which I find are really nice for travel as well.

    7. Your Mileage May Vary

      Thanks, guys, for the suggestions. I hate picking out bags but mine is almost at the end of the line so I need to be on the lookout for a new one.

    8. Jamie

      Jamie B! My boss bought me one and its actually big enough to use a laptop case for. 16″ but it’s stylish enough it looks like a fabulous bag. She saw it and got it for me because it was cute that its my name and last initial…but I absolutely love it. And it’s cushioned enough that I can have an iPad or 2 and feel secure.

  50. Primo

    I have managed a small business/tanning salon for 6 years. I helped them open the doors 6 years ago. Since then I went from a bed cleaner to manager and they have slowly put the faith in me for me to run the place. The owner now does not work here and I do everything from cleaning beds to bank deposits. I have an employee that was hired by the owner last year at relatively high pay because of her work experience. However, she was never promised management. She has slowly went from a hard worker and reliable to an entitled little brat to be honest. She calls herself a manager, she calls off and when I suspended her for 3 call offs in 2 weeks she tried to argue with me about it and how I can’t do that. She is stepping on my toes and trying to do my job and it is frustrating and un-organizing the place. I really don’t know how to confront her about this but it must stop. She is somewhat an asset to us at this time so termination is not what i would like to do, but things have got to change.

    1. COT

      I don’t know if this is salvageable, so begin making a plan to replace her. If you do want to address the issue firmly (don’t bend to her complaints). Keep it factual, focused on actual incidents with making it personally attacking to her. Alison has many posts about how to address problems with employees and set clear expectations for the future.

      Do you have a good relationship with the owner? If they are the one with the authority to actually fire people you will probably need their backup here.

    2. Kaz

      If you don’t have the authority to fire her, then the owner needs to know. I can’t imagine what she brings in that is better than what she’s taking out of the place and out of you.

    3. Steve G

      Sounds like you’ll need to get rid of her. Reminds me of my one retail management job. Some people wanted to play manager. Not sure they wanted to come in early and leave late and constantly worry about sales and meeting sales goals, and feeling bad sending someone home on a slow day, etc. etc.

  51. Four Border Collies

    I would like to know what AAM’s avatar is holding. It looks like a megaphone…?

  52. Evilduck

    How do you go about getting an honest answer about company culture? I’m looking to leave my current job because the culture is one that doesn’t fit well with my values (very class-conscious…scientists can do no wrong while the administrative staff are treated like Untouchables). This wasn’t a problem before a recent reorganization, as my small, three-person group functioned a bit like a start-up and was more egalitarian. What kind of questions can I ask, or things should I look for, in an interview to help me figure out if a company is a good fit? I’ve sat in on interviews at this company and when applicants ask about the culture, no one ever comes out and answers honestly about the class distinction; it’s more about how laid-back we are with our dress code.

    1. Runon

      I’m a big fan of a tour. If you can get a tour of the place you can generally get something of a feel for atmosphere. People are more likely to speak casually when walking. You can look around and see are people having conversations, smiling, focused on work, goofing off, whatever.

      You could also ask something about feedback or input. How is it handled, received, etc.

    2. Josh S

      You can typically find out something about their ‘claimed’ corporate culture from the way they talk about themselves. But there’s a BIG measure of “What’s your definition?” going on there. One man’s “work-life balance” might be 80 hours/week, but with an on-site gym and free lunch provided.

      So ask. If someone says something about work-life balance, ask them a question about what that looks like in particular for them: “When did you come into work and leave work yesterday?” or “How many hours do you work in a typical week?”

      Don’t ask about hypotheticals, ask it in the Behavioral Interview question sort of way: “Tell me about a time when you ______” (or, since that’s sort of awkward sometimes, take that framework as the basis fo your actual question).

  53. Rory

    Hey, I’ve got a couple questions.

    1) how do you handle cover letters when you don’t know the mailing address? I was always taught that cover letters are business letters, so they always begin with the address. This works fine when mailing a letter, but when you’re doing it online, sometimes it’s really hard to find one, or the one you find is for the overall org, not HR or the specific department. It’s amazing how many hospitals and unis dont have a physical address on their site, not even in Contact Us or Directions.

    2) I’m doing some cross-border searching into Canada. At what point in the process do I indicate that I will need a work permit? I’m applying only to places that don’t say flat out that you need to be authorized to work in Canada, and they’re all large orgs that often have international workers.

    1. Chinook

      When you are looking for work in another country, even Canada, I would say that you should mention it in your cover letter because it is always assumed that you are eligible to work in the country you are applying in. Just like in the US, Canada has requirements for hiring from outside the country (i.e. the organization has to prove that there is no one local that can fill the job). Dependign on where you are applying, if there is a high unemployment rate like in Ontario, you must have a very specific skill set for them to even consider this option. On the other hand, if you are applying for northern Alberta in the oil sands, the chances of them beeing willing and able to do this is greater because they need workers (just be warned that the cost of living can be higher there than in most parts of Canada).

      If you are looking to Canada for work because you are expanding your options, know that you probably won’t have much luck. If you are moving there for other reasons, you may ave better luck.

      1. Lynne

        It could just be me, but if someone is applying from another country and their resume shows no education or work history in Canada, and says nothing about a work permit / residency / citizenship, I tend to think they don’t have the legal right to work here. So I’d say it’s a good idea to mention it in the cover letter either way.

        Also, if your profession is one of the ones covered under NAFTA, it’s much easier to obtain a work permit, so you may want to check that out, Rory.

    2. A Bug!

      1) If you have a main address, use it, with an attention line to the department or person you’re addressing.

      If you don’t find an address on the org’s site, can you find one on an online telephone directory or a phone book or anything? Alternatively, you could call their main inquiries line and ask for their address, if not having one bothers you.

  54. Christine

    I already posted a question, but I have a second one:

    I know the resume Objective is frowned upon these days. But what about a Summary? Mine looks like this:

    Social work professional with finely honed writing, research and administrative skills. Interested in contributing skills and background to an organization whose mission is to address the needs of vulnerable populations and their communities, particularly ______

    Does that look too much like an objective? Also, I’ve been undecided about what direction to take career-wise, at least in the short term (direct client contact vs. administrative, non-supervisory), so I figured this would be general enough. I’d certainly try to tailor it to specific jobs, but for now, this is for networking purposes. I worry that it’s probably TOO general though, because I haven’t gotten any bites from my networking efforts using this in my resume.

    (P.S.: I’ll admit that the career counselor at my university wrote part of this…I would never write “finely-honed” lol.)

    1. A Bug!

      Between your resume and your cover letter a summary should not be necessary. If your skills and experience are not obvious on a brief skim of your resume then you need to fix that in the resume itself rather than adding more words.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Summaries can be really effective when they’re well done — they can frame your whole candidacy for the employer. However, the key is that they have to be compelling; most are generic and sound like what anyone else in that field would say. But done well, they can be awesome.

      1. Malissa

        Can you give an example of a great summary? All the ones I’ve seen are awful. Including any I’ve tried to write.

      2. Christine

        Thanks Alison and “A Bug”. I guess it’s engrained in me to put *something* before launching into the specific experience details.

        Yeah, I’d say mine looks pretty generic then.

    3. Malissa

      Ditch it. Surely you’ve got better uses for the space on your resume. I would think if you are going to do a summary it should look something like: “In Z years I have written X many grants getting Y amounts of dollars for my organizations.”
      But then that should be addressed under bullet points on your resume anyway. As for your ideal work place, that stuff should be covered in the cover letter. “I am very interested in working for your organization because you work X group of people, to address their needs. ” In looking for this kind of work if you have a reason for the passion of working with these individuals including could be extremely helpful.

      1. Christine

        As for your ideal work place, that stuff should be covered in the cover letter. “I am very interested in working for your organization because you work X group of people, to address their needs. ” In looking for this kind of work if you have a reason for the passion of working with these individuals including could be extremely helpful.

        *duh moment* Thank you Malissa for pointing that out.

        1. Malissa

          What can I say? I’ve been looking at crappy cover letters and resumes all week. The temptation to send them all over to this blog is high. And the urge to help others is high because of this as well. ;)

  55. DC

    A good friend and former co-worker referred me for a job with one of her business contacts. I reached out to her contact via email to express my interest in the open position, and he replied with a very nice email saying that he was training an intern, but he’d get back to me in late April or early May when he starts interviewing.

    My friend suggested that since it’s late April, I should contact him again. I’m hesitant because I don’t want to force the issue since I already know the timeline. However, she obviously knows him much better than I do, and thinks he would appreciate that I’m following up with him.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on a non-pushy way to to do this? I also haven’t given him a copy of my resume yet, so I was thinking that I could just send a quick email with the resume attached.

    1. Malissa

      I’m thinking a quick email saying that based on your previous contact you know the time to fill the position is getting near and you wanted to touch bases with him. And in case he was interested you’ve attached your resume.

  56. Anonymous

    As an underemployed college graduate, I understand that the market it difficult right now, and that organizations and universities that sponsor job fairs have a difficult time getting employers to come to their events, but I am absolutely sick and tired of the fact that the vast majority of companies and positions that are at those fairs are either insurance companies looking for agents, call centers, or places looking for sales reps. I don’t want to knock the sales profession, but why is there such a vast amount of open sales jobs in comparison to just about everything else? I am trying to get into Public Relations, and I can’t tell you how many times I have seen companies try to bait me by promising PR experience when the job is nothing more than either telemarketing or door-to-door sales. And seriously, who still thinks that door-to-door is a good means of gaining business?

    1. Kaz

      Because most of the time they don’t pay them unless they bring in sales. Or they pay them so little that the company is still coming out way ahead. So there is no cost to the company, or very little, whether they have 10 people working or 100 people working.

    2. Elise

      Sales jobs have high turnover. I have been getting a lot of emails thru Monster for sales jobs, but my resume has no sales experience listed and is much more research-analyst focused.

      I expect most of these use mass interviews which are more like presentations of their product, so it is better for their odds to have as many people attend these presentations as possible.

    3. Rana

      I think another factor is that these sorts of jobs are often viewed as suitable for no-skills or low-skilled workers (which, not really), so there’s a lot of turnover.

  57. Kim

    I found out through a client that another firm is interested in me. What is the best/most appropriate way to establish contact? Email them my resume? Call them?

  58. Janine

    I have spent a good amount of time on my resume and cover letter and I can say that I have good ones. I even asked my friend who’s a HR specialist about my resume and cover letter and she said they were absolutely great and that I should be confident sending them to the companies I was aiming for (whose positions are great matches to my background and qualifications). Yet I got no interviews since the beginning of my job search. I wonder what went wrong?

  59. KellyK

    I have a question. This week I had a quasi-interview with a group at one of my company’s other offices. The project I’m on is ending in June, and I could end up moving onto their project. (The company I work for is a defense contractor, so this kind of reshuffling of people is pretty common as contracts end, new ones start, etc.)

    I’m writing a follow-up email to the people I met with, and I’m blanking on what to say. Something about how exciting what they’re working on sounds and how I hope they have a spot for me (without any overtones of “because I really would like to continue having a job after June” and more because the work sounds interesting). And reiterating my offer to either in on tasks as needed, do some background reading, or sit in on meetings while I’m still on my current project.

    Any ideas? If you were in their shoes, what sort of things would you want to hear?

    1. Kristi

      I think you’ve got some good content right there. “You’re very interested in what they’re working on, and would like to be considered for the team.”

      While you’re current project doesn’t wrap up until June, I’m not sure how likely it is that you’ll have time to do anything for them as far as tasks, reading, meetings. Or if you do have time, if they prefer to wait until you’re fully available. (That part is a little iffy for me.) Good luck!

      1. KellyK

        Yeah, I can see that being iffy. My current supervisor has already okayed me splitting my time if I need to, and I do sometimes work on tasks outside my current project (mainly process improvement stuff). Plus, from my experience, the tech writer role is often a “hurry up and wait” position. I’ll have periods that are a flurry of activity followed by a long stretch of waiting for people to get things to me.

  60. Windchime

    Yay! It’s my first Open Thread participation! I haven’t read any comments yet; I’m saving it for tonight when I get home. :)

    I was reading archives the other day and came across several comments where posters mentioned that co-workers have been caught doing naughty things (such as masturbating) at work and have somehow managed to keep their jobs. How is this possible?

    This is what happened at my old office: There was an IT guy who we suspected had been kicked out of his house by his wife and was living at work. He claimed he was working at night; we suspect that he was sleeping at the office and would then go home to shower after his wife left the house for her job. He was like a really sleezy Joey Tribiani (“How YOU doin’??”) and behaved inappropriately with girls in the office. Anyway, one day a maintenance man opened up a wiring closet and there was “Joey” in a “state of partial undress” and doing his business in the wiring closet! Amazingly enough, he didn’t lose his job over this. He finally got let go when he was caught flagrantly cheating on the time clock.

    But serious? How do people not get fired for this?

    1. AdAgencyChick

      Hey, if two staffers caught in flagrante delicto in a stairwell didn’t get fired (happened at an agency I worked at several years back), then why should one person doing it by himself get the axe?

      (KIDDING…although not about the fact that the two staffers didn’t get fired.)

    2. Jamie

      Sigh…I hate when the creepy persons from IT. For the record, many of us manage to stay dressed consistently while at work.

    1. LMW

      I studied there as part of a longer program (did an archaeological dig right on the Ireland/Northern Ireland border for two weeks as part of a longer dig in Wales). We didn’t do much touristy stuff — we were in a tiny, tiny town in a county that wasn’t even in my guidebook. I spent a lot of time in a van and in churchyards (where we were working). But it was lovely. And the people were wonderful. And there were lots of baby sheep, which is kind of like baby goats. And cats. So I think you will have a fantastic time.

    2. Christine

      I went to Dublin in 1995 (also to London that same trip) to stay with my sister while she was studying there, and there’s one place that was pretty cool, but can’t remember what it was. New Grange, maybe? Does that sound correct to anyone?

        1. Christine

          Not really any of those three. It was outdoors, and I remember taking pictures next to what I think might’ve been small caves.

    3. Natalie

      I lived in Dublin for a couple of months, although it was mid-Celtic Tiger so some of my experience may be outdated. All of the things that were unusual to me are compared to living in a fairly large US city. And I keep trying to organize these thoughts to no avail, so enjoy the randomness, I guess.

      1. Stores close pretty early. There was one weeknight designated for late shopping and they would be open until 9, but other than that everything closed at 6. And this was in the main shopping district in Dublin, the largest city in the country.

      2. It was surprisingly hard to find decent coffee. Lots of restaurants and groceries seemed to think Nescafe was acceptable. They do have Starbucks all over, which was helpful for us as we really like coffee.

      3. Ireland is in a weird situation in regards to infrastructure because the country was so crushingly poor for so long, and then they suddenly had lots and lots of money. So, for example, people drive very nice cars and then live 4 people to a 2 bedroom apartment because there is literally no available housing.

      4. Related to #3, the public transportation system in Dublin isn’t as good as a lot of other European cities, so Dubliners walk everywhere. And they walk FAST. If you are around the street during rush hour, you will see a bunch of very nicely dressed women wearing tennis shoes and carrying high heels.

      5. They have really fantastic dairy products, especially the butter. And due to the aforementioned walking, you’ll need the extra fuel. :)

      6. The 4 national museum locations are free and pretty fantastic, if you like museums. 3 are in Dublin and 1 is in County Mayo (a museum of country life). The Natural History museum is bizarrely, delightfully old fashioned. It’s like a museum of what museums used to be like.

    4. 22dncr

      I have 2 different friends that have done Equitours in Ireland and they LOVED it – one has done it twice! You ride a horse from B&B to B&B so you stay under a roof every night. I would love to do that one day. You really get to see the country and meet the people.

    5. The Other Dawn

      I SOOOO want to go to Ireland! I’m hoping my hubby surprises me either for my 40th birthday or our 20 yr anniversary. Two of our customers are Irish and I love listening to them talk. ;)

    6. Amanda

      Natalie covered a lot of the logistics, but as far as places to go, I cannot recommend the Aran Islands enough. It’s three islands that are basically stuck in 1850 (although at the same time you can get wifi and there’s at least one modern grocery store, coffeeshop and plenty of restaurants on the biggest island). It’s one of the most gorgeous and friendly places I’ve been to.

      I only explored Dublin on my last trip there, but I liked it. The aforementioned museums are free (unlike many European museums), there’s a small but growing food scene (although I can’t talk about coffee since I don’t drink it) and it has plenty of tourist options without being in-your-face touristy.

      Killarney National Park is beautiful and a great place to spend a day or two walking around (but the town of Killarney seemed to try too hard to be a quaint little Irish town).

      But really, traveling in Ireland is not so much hitting up tourist attractions but instead more of a place where the best experiences consist of sitting in a 17th century pub, drinking a pint and chatting with the locals.

      I studied abroad in Ireland and have been back two times since, so feel free to email if you want more advice or suggestions!

      1. Amanda

        And if you go to Cork, you have to have a pint (of Murphys or Beamish, not Guinness) at An Spanlin Fanc-it’s my favorite bar in the world.

      2. Natalie

        Yeah, one of my big regrets is that we didn’t get out to the rest of the country at all, just one working day trip to a seaside town nearby.

      3. Jamie

        That’s my dream vacation, my grandpa came from Kilarney!

        I’m jealous – there are so many places I’d love to go. If only they didn’t require leaving the house.

    7. AmyNYC

      I really enjoyed Dublin! I recommend Jameson and Guinness (I don’t recommend doing these both in one day!), The Trinity Library (with the Book of Kells) is beautiful. Take some time to wander and poke around whatever you see that interests you.
      If you can, take a day trip outside the city; we went to Claddagh and it was a lovely seaside town.
      Have a great time!

    8. JBeane

      I spent a couple of weeks in Ireland a few years ago. I thought Dublin was okay, but basically your standard European city. Lots of history, nice art, good food, etc. The Irish countryside, though, is unparalleled! It’s seriously the only place I’ve visited that was prettier in person than in movies/on TV. If I were you I’d rent a car and mosey around the countryside for at least part of your trip. It’s not a large country, but there’s tons of history in every nook and cranny. There are beautiful sights everywhere, and everyone I met was extremely friendly.

      Congrats on your upcoming nuptials!

      1. Marie

        I agree; explore the countryside! It sounds cliche, but you won’t believe how green everything is. I’d recommend the Dingle Peninsula, on the west coast. Make sure to hit the pubs and take in the local music. You’re going to love it!!

    9. T.

      Ohh I went travelling around Europe post-grad in 2011 and Ireland was definitely one of my highlights! I spent 10 days and visited Dublin, Cork, Killarney, and Galway – would go back in a hearbeat! I definitely recommend spending some time in Cork – it’s a cute, but vibrant city with some of the nicest locals I encountered. I took a day trip from there to Cobh, where the Titanic last docked. Check it out if you’re into good fish n chips and charming seaside villages, but the Titanic monument wasn’t quite what I expected (just a plaque on a street corner). Killarney was another favourite; took a bus tour through the park with a friend, got lots of pictures and had a great time – even though we were about 40 years younger than the other passengers!

      Can’t go wrong visiting Ireland in my opinion, just enjoy your time, soak up the greenery, music, and a few pints!

    10. Kristi

      Cliffs of Moher are beautiful, and an easy hike. I also suggest biking the Ring of Kerry, best week I ever spent seeing a new country.

    11. SD

      I second NewGrange!
      also the Hills of Tara (on a clear day you can see 2/3 of Ireland, on a not-clear day you can still see quite a lot :) )
      I’ve heard good things about the Giant’s Causeway too

      I’m a big fan of small-coach tours, and can recommend Rabbie’s in general, but not specifically in Ireland (I’ve taken their tours in Scotland)

      Dublin has a lot of museums (the Archaeology Museum really appealed to me) and galleries and some nice parks, as well as Trinity College (Book of Kells, the Long Room) :) And lots of neat things if you walk around a bit (the Tourist Information people were really helpful too, also the HopOn-HopOff tour)

      heck, even the bus ride from Belfast to Dublin was extremely pretty :)

      have so much fun!

    12. Schuyler Pierson

      I agree with visiting Trinity College in Dublin/Book of Kells… the library was stunning (the long room). I also really enjoyed the tour of Dublin Castle, and thought it was pretty cool that they still hold presidential inaugurations there.

    13. Calibrachoa

      Late to the party, but I live in Dublin! :D

      – we have the best museums. Seriously
      – Public transit sucks, but taxis are plentiful and usually very good
      – everything closes early
      – Newgrange and Tara are awesome, as are the Aran islands. I also recommend checking out Howth for great coastal views and awesome fish restaurants.

      Feel free to ask me about anything!

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Thank you! How early is early?

        We’re going to spend the first four days in Dublin, then 2 in Kinsale, 2 in Killarney, and 3 in Galway. We’re very excited!

        1. Calibrachoa

          Let’s see.. most shops that are not groceries/supermarkets close around 6 pm on days other than Thursdays; then they’re usually open till 8 or so. With some small7-11 type places being 24/7, most supermarkets close around 10 or 11 on weekdays and earlier on Sundays. There’s no 24/7 pharmacies but just about every shop has a decent selection of OTC meds and supplies like plasters, etc. Pubs tend to close around 11.30 to 12.30 unless they have a “late license” which allows them to be open till 2.30 am; only private members-only places are open beyond that. Restaurants and pubs usually serve food until 10 pm or so, sometimes earlier so it’s always worth checking.

          I hope you have a great time! I have a lot of recommendations for Dublin but alas none for the others – I tend to just rush through Galway to get to the Aran islands… :P in Dublin I’d recommended the Long Stone pub for a contemporary, relatively non-touristy place with the most amazing pub grub I’ve ever had :D

  61. Michelle

    I was wondering for US government postings, should I go ahead and apply if I don’t meet all of the qualifications? Sometimes the USAJobs descriptions will say that candidates must meet all required qualifications, though AAM also said in a recent post that if you are 80% qualified, you should go ahead and apply. Is there any harm in applying when you don’t meet 100% of the qualifications for government jobs? Thanks in advance!

    1. KellyK

      Government jobs are much stricter about this than other employers, especially for things like degrees and years of experience. I think that if the description specifically says that candidates must meet all required qualifications, don’t apply unless you do. You don’t want to be the person who doesn’t follow directions.

      The flip side of that is to check carefully what qualifications are required. Phrasing like “should” or “the ideal candidate will…” gives a little more wiggle room. Some ads are good about separating actual requirements from purple squirrel nice-to-haves, but not all are.

      I would say if you meet 80%, and the 20% you don’t meet doesn’t look like a hard, fast requirement, go ahead and apply.

    2. Runon

      Kelly is pretty right on here.

      But I will say that some government jobs fall prey to totally unreasonable expectations* too. (Like the person who has 15 years developing for iOS.)

      *A position I tried to apply for was like this. They have been rewriting it for about 9 months because they can’t get anyone to meet the criteria. The hiring manager asked me to submit my resume because she thought they wanted someone like me for the job and then they said oh you don’t meet the criteria and had to rewrite it again. At this point in another year and a half they’ll have realistic expectations. I did point out they are asking for more experience than the program has existed for, apparently that shouldn’t stop people.

    3. Christa

      USAjobs are notoriously hard to get. All of the jobs I have applied to through usajobs.gov have surveys about your job experience that they use to weed people out because they get hundreds of applications for their postings. A computer weeds out your application based on your answers to the questions and your qualifications never get reviewed by a real person. My suggestions are preview the questions and make sure you can answer yes to all of them and then I would fill out the resume on your profile really well, making sure to use common keywords from the job postings you are looking at so the computer will be more likely to pick out your relevant experience. The government also gives first preference to people with disabilities and veterans so if you fall into that category, make sure you fill out the right paperwork and attach it with your application. You should try jobs with your local government first before usajobs because they are easier to get than federal jobs.

      1. Amanda

        That’s why I had no luck with it even though I had non-competitive eligibility based on successful Peace Corps service! No one ever saw that I had NCE because the computer weeded me out beforehand.

        1. Christa

          I am pretty sure they should be able to see that you had non-competitive eligibility before they screened your application out. I think the computer picks out stuff like that but I am not 100% positive. You should try again and see if you have better luck.

    4. Rana

      I’d say there’s no harm in applying, but don’t get your hopes up. I applied to a few for which I was qualified, and received confirmation letters attesting to that fact, but no offers.

  62. Non-Traditional Student

    I’m 23 and am currently working full-time as an admin assistant. I put college on hold for financial reasons and am now financially ready to give it another go. Should I quit my job and study full-time (with a part-time job on the side), or should I keep this job and study part-time?

    If I’m frugal (and get good funding), my savings should last me about a year. I also don’t want to take out any student loans if I don’t have to…considering going to community college for precisely that reason.

        1. Natalie

          Since you only have the savings for one year, I think some arrangement where you work and school at the same time would be more sustainable long term. Otherwise you may have to drop out again in a year, and once people drop out of college they’re statistically unlikely to go back.

          I loved community college, and it is easier to fit it around a standard work schedule. Your classmates are also likely to be a bit older and less wild than the average 18 year old living away from home for the first time. Check if your state has a transfer curriculum, which basically simplifies the process of transferring to an in-state four year college.

          You mentioned avoiding loans, and I think it’s absolutely right to avoid private loans. But don’t write off federal loans – the interest rates and borrowing limits are a lot more reasonable and there are a number of different programs that can help you if you find it hard to pay them off once you graduate (or if, god forbid, you don’t graduate.) And once you’re 24, you can apply for FAFSA as an independent student, so your parents income and assets won’t be counted.

    1. Kaz

      Full time work and part time study often means you drop out of the study, since the work keeps the roof over your head. If you can at all manage, part time work and full time school will get you through school faster and keep that your focus.

      Working through school also keeps your resume current and will give you a big advantage over other new grads.

      But do make sure that you are going to school for something that’s reasonably likely to pay off – accounting vs creative writing, etc.

      1. Non-Traditional Student

        “But do make sure that you are going to school for something that’s reasonably likely to pay off – accounting vs creative writing, etc.”

        Funny you should mention that — I started out as an idealistic Literature major, but putting school on hold and getting a ton of work experience helped me discover that I have a budding interest in Economics. Hopefully that pays off!

    2. The IT Manager

      “Night school” and online classes with a full time job is hard. You’ll probably get more out of school if you can study full time and work part time. There is the presumption that a part-time job will also be the kind that you only have to think about when you’re on the job and you can leave it behind when you’re not there. Not so much with a full-time job.

      Good luck. I wish I had been more mature in college because I didn’t make the best use of my time and the opportunities because I was a dumb kid. And later I wanted to be more enaged with my online program, but I was barely keeping my head above water.

      1. Non-Traditional Student

        Thank you for the perspective! I’d suspected juggling a full-time job with college could be difficult. I’m glad I took the time off, though, because now I’m motivated to do great in class, as opposed to burnt out and aimless (which I was when I graduated from high school).

      2. -X-

        I’ll add a slightly dissenting opinion, though the example I’m using is a little different: I went to grad school part-time while working full time and it was great. Dragging out school helped me learn even more – I could more slowly develop my interests, develop a reputation at school, make more connections.

        Now I’m not sure how valid this is to undergrad, since it might drag on so long you don’t finish. But I’m really glad I took two and a half years to do what I could have done in a one and a half.

        If you really like school and don’t have personal pressures other than the day job pulling you away from school, consider spreading it out.

    3. EngineerGirl

      I worked my way through school. Can you get a part time job and part time school? I worked 32 hours a week and took anywhere from a 1/2 load to 3/4 load. I also only slept about 4 hours a night and my GPA took a beating.

      One of the very best part time jobs belonged to a friend of mine. She worked the switchboard at the hospital from 6 pm to midnight. Visitor hours were over at 8, phones closed at 9. That left 3 hours for emergency calls only. Her supervisor was fine with her studying on the job – as long as she answered the phones. I was so jealous!

      So look for synergy with jobs, if possible. If there are jobs with down time in them (that would let you study) that would be good.

  63. Anonymous

    Okay so there’s this co-worker of mine who’s been here about half as long as I have, but acts like she’s my superior. Our team lead left, leaving us lead-less, and left the newer girl in charge of one of her old tasks, so I asked my manager why she was put in charge of it and not me, but ohhhh noooo I shouldn’t be asking that, my manager gave me a talking to for even suggesting that I should be doing it instead, and has since then I can’t share any concerns regarding her because he refuses to discuss the subject.

    But now I’m annoyed at how condescending she is, always telling me what to do and how to do things, sending me e-mails about how I should talk to people on the phone, and offering to do something for me when I’m halfway done. So I did snip at her this morning which I shouldn’t have done, and my manager has no interest in what happened, he just told me to cut the crap and get to work.

    So I do know my attitude could use some work, but I also wish she’d stop acting like she’s in charge. But I can’t bring it up to my manager without pissing him off even more.

    1. Runon

      What would be so awful if she was in charge? If today your boss said, she’s your team lead, what would be horrible about that? This might be a time to radically rethink your view of her. I can’t really tell from what you have said if she doesn’t have any idea and other than she’s condescending if she’s doing anything that she shouldn’t be. Condescending can be something that is about your perception as well so it might be worth taking a step back here.

    2. The Other Dawn

      It’s quite possible she’s being groomed to be the new team lead. And you normally wouldn’t know that because it’s between her and her boss. Rather than focus on how you perceive her to be acting towards you, why not put the effort into doing the best job you can possibly do. If you’re looking to be the team lead, talk to your boss about it and get some feedback.

    3. Jamie

      It’s strikes me that you mention time on the job. That really is irrelevant when it comes to who is the lead and you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you don’t think of “fair” in terms of seniority.

  64. Annie

    Long commute for better pay/big company or short commute for less pay/small company? It seems these are my choices – I can drive 1+ hours each way and possibly work for a large, Fortune 500 company with better pay or I can stay close to home and work for a small company for less pay. I’ve tried commuting a long distance and lasted less than a year, I couldn’t do it.

    Which do you choose?

    1. Runon

      Short commute/small company. The shorter commute means I get to enjoy more of my day, the smaller company usually means I get to do more variety of work. The less pay stinks, but at least I don’t have to pay for gas and more car wear and tear (or a car at all in my case). And I get to enjoy the extra 10+ hours a week.

      What are those 10+ hours worth to you every week?

    2. Elise

      It depends on how you feel about the drive. And what sort of drive it is — more traffic and stops/starts will use more gas and tend to be more stressful than open country roads.

      I had an hour commute for a long time (recently laid-off) and I enjoyed the time. It gave me a chance to wake up, listen to music, and prepare for my work day on the way there. And I got to unwind and relax before I got home.

    3. Lindsay

      I totally would choose less pay/short commute. To decide, you have to factor in how much you spend on the commute, and how much your personal time is worth. Is it worth it to give up an extra 2+ hours a day for the increased salary?

      Maybe I should also add right now I have higher rent/short commute, but the higher rent is totally worth it to be able to bike to work, and enjoy where I live when I’m not at work.

    4. Sascha

      Disclaimer: I telecommute part of the week and have a 10 minute drive to work. So my vote is for short commute/small company.

      Overall it depends on what you hope to get out of it. Will working at the big company open more doors for you, possibly doors that will lead to shorter commutes, or a better overall job?

    5. The IT Manager

      With the facts you’ve given us, short commute/small company,
      but does this have long term impacts on your career trajectory?

      An hour plus commute seems very long to me.

      Given you said you couldn’t manage an hour commute previously, how likely are you be able to handle this commute for more than a year?

      Can you possibly do the big company and move closer?

      1. Jenny S.

        I second the question of “does this have long term impacts on your career trajectory?” My commute is over an hour (using public transit to get from a major city to a suburb), but right now it’s worth it because my job is exactly the step I want/need in my career path.

    6. Victoria Nonprofit

      Short commute, definitely. But I’m at a place in my life where I’m prioritizing life over work. (I don’t mean that flippantly – work has been at the center of my life for most of it. This is a new thing I’m trying.)

    7. Jamie

      This is a huge ymmv issue depending on how much you hate driving. I like a long commute, mine in 1.25-1.5 each way and I don’t mind it…other people would balk.

      If you couldn’t last at it last time think about why and if anything has changed …or if you’ll end up leaving again.

  65. Kelly O

    So y’all have followed a bit my “new boss from h-e-double-sippy-straws” saga since last year. I have rocked along and just gone with the flow.

    She claims she does not hold grudges or play favorites, but it is painfully clear she does. Everyone else can see it. In the last six months we’ve had two people leave the office, and they were two people who had clear and recurring issues with her. In both cases, neither person was trying to do anything except bring up a different viewpoint, or take a stance that did not align with hers. One was fired, one left voluntarily.

    Earlier this week, I was working on a regular, recurring task for her. She was providing me information throughout the day, and told me she was working on more updates. Late in the afternoon, I had to finally make a call about updating our database because of the time involved, and our schedule for polling to stores.

    At 4:40, I get an email from her with another department to update. I asked if it could go out the next day, since I had already updated. I did tell her that if she needed it to go out with the others I could do that, but it would require rekeying every department because of the way our database works.

    Needless to say that started a back-and-forth email chain in which she said she did not understand why it was “so difficult” for me, and that she’d told me she had other things coming. I understood that nothing I could say would help, and apparently she was emailing the buyers I support to find out what was “wrong.” – Bear in mind I said I could rekey them, but I would have to rekey them all. And at this hour, that means overtime, which we are not ever supposed to have.

    Finally, one of the other buyers gives me a work-around. It’s not ideal, but it will get this one thing out without having to redo the whole thing. And I did have to stay late, but fortunately not long enough to rekey the whole thing. (Bearing in mind this is a multiple step process that requires a lot of data entry.)

    So when I was done, I sent her an email (she was out of the office) saying that when she got back in, I really would like to talk about this, because I felt like we were missing something in tone, and I wanted to be sure we didn’t have any misunderstandings going forward. She replied “I was done with the last email, you should be fine.”

    I was struck by what I thought was the rudeness of the reply. Since she’s been back in the office, she has been short with me, but I’m aware that it’s my turn on her “sh*t list” – it’s happened before, it will probably happen again.

    My question is – what the heck? I mean, what do I even do with this, or do I do anything? (For whatever its’ worth, I’m trying to step up my job search and just get the heck out of dodge, but that also worries me because now she’s my supervisor and I don’t know how she’ll respond to inquiries about me and my work. She’s made fairly blanket statements about me and my personal ambitions that she clearly knows nothing about, but it’s “her perception” that I would not be good at X, Y, and Z.)

    1. Josh S

      “What the heck” indeed! That’s just crappy to treat someone that way.

      I’d be a fan of being direct with her at a later point. Like after a day or two so she knows it’s not that you’re pissed off in the moment. Perhaps saying, “I know you said you were done with the Task, but I think there’s a broader issue here that I’d like to address…” and going into the rough spot she put you in — having to do verboten OT and lots of duplicated work.

      But I don’t know that this is likely to do much for you, since she does seem to be the sort that holds a grudge if you push back against “her way” of doing things.

      Instead, you could simply remind her of what “her way” of doing things is. For instance, with this situation, you knew she had multiple updates and that you would, at some point, need to make a final call to input the database update.

      Why not remind her of that before that time deadline happens? Just say in an email, “I know you’re trying to make multiple updates. But in order to avoid having to work necessary overtime (which you said I shouldn’t do), I will need to do the data entry no later than 4:40pm. Please have any updates that need to be done today to me by then, otherwise I can get to them tomorrow.”

      You’re simply holding her to her own standard. She wants no OT, so you’re helping her enforce her own standards of no OT.

      Good luck, and let us know how this goes!

    2. Kristi

      You can certainly try approaching her, but i think we’ve all learned how hard it is to be reasonable with unreasonable person. This just sounds like who she is, which why you were already looking and now you’re more inspired to find something else. People with bad bosses get new jobs all the time, you won’t need to use her as a reference. If anything, you can let prospective employers know they shouldn’t call her specifically or they’ll jeopardize your job. Just use former coworkers/clients as references. Sounds like they’ll all be able to say how wonderful you are, in spite of the office management!

    3. EngineerGirl

      Curt emails might be sent from mobile devices.

      But you should talk to her. Btw, I’ve found that if someone tells you that they don’t hold grudges then they do. Because if they don’t the thought doesn’t enter their brain to tell you they don’t.

  66. JW

    Ok, to sum up what may be a long story (I’ll do my best to keep it short): I’m looking for stalling tactics at my current job while I look for a new one.

    I work for an ad agency (not as creative or account team). Recently, we merged with another agency and my dept is slowly changing how they do things, which makes much of my job redundant. Agency wants to keep me on, and I’ve been asked several times by various managers what I’d like to do (with no guarantee that they can make it happen.) Meanwhile, for the past 4 months I’ve been looking for a job in my field (nonprofit theater), which little success so far (1st and 2nd interviews with 1 company, not a good fit).

    Lately, the noise about transitioning me into another position has gotten louder. I absolutely do not want to stay at this company, however, for a great many reasons. But I need the job until I find something else. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    1. Darcie

      It sounds to me like you need to be a bit more proactive about what position you end up in. If you don’t participate in this, they might move you into a role you’ll hate, so if you can really take the reigns and give them an idea of what you’d rather do, you’ll probably be a lot less miserable. Try to move into a role where you can either learn new skills or learn things that can help you with your job hunt.

    2. JW

      I should have mentioned that I have given my managers an answer as to where I’d “like” to move to, of the few options open to me.
      My biggest worry is that this path requires further training (possibly courses?) I’d need to move into the new role. As I said, I have no intent to actually pursue a career in any part of advertising, so the thought of taking advantage of training feels very disingenuous (and frankly, like a huge hassle since I’m leaving. ASAP.)

      1. LMW

        I think this might be a hope for the best, plan for the worst scenario. If it takes you a really long time to find a job and you are stuck there long enough to go through the training and transition to a new position (worse case scenario, aside from unemployment, right?), what would the best option be? What option would give you the most experience that you could leverage into what you really want to do?

        1. JW

          Ok. Thanks for the advice.
          I realized this was a “suck it up and deal, hope to get something out of it” situation, but just wanted to float it out there on an open thread because this community is really smart and helpful.

  67. Darcie

    How do hiring managers see people who are sort of “jack of all trades”? Specifically, I am graduating with a science degree and I see a lot of my peers becoming very specialized. Many of my peers only have academic experience, and I see myself as being more well rounded. That is, my resume doesn’t have a ton of experience relating to the field I want to go into. I have a bit of experience in many things, from graphic design to advertising to event planning and some management. The field I want to go into technical. I’m staring to worry that my resume looks a bit scattered.

    1. Amanda

      I have the same issues with my resume-I have a bit of experience in everything but not the required 3-5 years in anything. On the other hand, people who really specialize often find themselves pigeonholed and unable to get hired outside of their field-which is a big issue if their field tanks. So it’s a bit of a lose-lose proposition either way.

    2. Jamie

      Depends what they are looking to hire for. I’m an IT generalist which would completely rule me out of jobs where they need a specialist with in depth skills in one area. But if your we’re hiring for a solo IT for an SMB who had knowledge miles wide and inches deep in some areas, rather than miles deep and inches wide I’m what you want…because.

      I sometimes get jealous of people who have been able to hone serious expertise in one area – but being general and flexible has worked better for me in my industry.

  68. Oso

    Is it good or bad to answer that you are in the interview process with a company when you are being interviewed by another company?

    1. Josh S

      It is neutral-to-very-slightly-good, so long as you’re being honest. I can’t imagine anyone taking it as a bad thing (except perhaps a crazy employer who would hold it against you that they weren’t the only company you would dream of working for). Some managers would (perhaps subconsciously) think that you are more desirable if they’re in competition with another company for your talent, but that gets mitigated because they don’t know the company, the position, or how far along you are in the process.

      So just be honest about it.

      1. Oso

        The thing is they will not know if you are honest or not so that doesn’t matter. As a matter of fact I am in discussion with three companies right now.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          It potentially does matter — first, from an integrity standpoint. And second, because you risk them saying, “This will be a slow hiring process, so let us know what happens with those processes once they play out.”

      2. The IT Manager

        +1 Related to the better to be employed when looking for a job is to be interviewing with several companies because that implies that you are a valued commidty. Don’t brag, but do not lie if asked.

  69. Oy.

    Oh! I have one!

    So. I work in academic research. I switched research groups about 8 months ago (technically a promotion, and with many of the same people, just a new ‘official’ project). They hired four other people and two have already quit. I’ve decided to leave also, but not only because I don’t like the job- the job itself is eh, but my lease is up in June and I’m not renewing it because I’m moving away (I hate it here, took a chance and lost- various things did not work out the way I wanted them to).

    Anyway. I don’t have a new position yet where I’m relocating and now I’m super stressed about what to say when I quit. I’ll have been in my position for less than a year, and two people recently quit before me (they had problems with our supervisor). I really want to tell them in the next week (which would give them a month’s notice) because they were going to foot the bill for me to take a summer course that I’d have to register for very soon, and obviously I don’t want to do that since I know I won’t be here that long!

    Tl;dr: How do I tell them I’m quitting to move away (with no job prospects, so I’ll sound insane) after other people have quit recently?

    1. Lindsay

      I’ve quit a job to move away with no job prospects and managed to land on my feet. You just have to pick a date you want to move and go for it! Think about how much time you need to pack yourself up and factor that into your notice. It is NOT your problem that other people have quit, but you can maybe offer to train replacements during your last couple of weeks.

      People will think you’re nuts, but who cares? You need a change, you are moving to someplace better, you can give generic reasons for your departure if you want to. nbd! Best of luck on your next adventure : )

    2. The IT Manager

      I’m moving back home, to be near family, etc – whatever reason you picked where you’re relocating to. Ignore the other two people quit and say that you are leaving because you never settled well in or something similar. If you’re specific enough polite people shouldn’t press more.

      1. Oy.

        Thanks!

        I think my biggest worry is that my former mgr (worked w her two years before this) is going to be pissed because she really feels she “talked me up” and helped get me hired. And she’s the one I wanted the reference from. Oh we’ll, can’t please everyone!

    3. Rana

      They don’t need to know why you’re moving (or even that you’re moving, though that obviously serves as an explanation for why you’re quitting). Something to the effect of “something has come up in my life that’s made moving a necessity” if they push, but, really, there’s no need to get into it. Bonus points if you can work in a wistful, “I wish it could have worked out; I’ve really enjoyed working here.”

  70. Paulus

    What’s the best way of handling medically related breaks in employment? I left one job for the military but broke my leg just prior to boot (with permanent medical DQ after healing) and wound up with 10 month employment gap (aside from rehab needs, 2008 was not the best year to have done this). I’ve never been entirely certain how to portray that on why I left (because of inevitable questions if I simply answer that I left after enlisting and don’t have military service listed) or on resumes.

    1. Colette

      Can’t you just say that what you’ve said here – you left to join the military but that fell through when you broke your leg?

  71. Mints

    Ideas for office social event?
    I’m a recent grad in my first full-time office job (admin). During the meeting where the managers made me official and gave some feedback, they said I should look into some fun events or group lunches for the office.
    We’re in a major city, but I live in the suburbs. I could send a list of restaurants, but the guys tend to be really picky with that.
    I want to do something slightly cool, but not anything too adventorous. I don’t know any of them well and honestly don’t care to. Something like a wine & cheese tasting but more accessible?
    Thanks for ideas!

    1. Malissa

      See if you can get the ice cream cart to come through your office. Or have massage therapists brought in for an afternoon.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        My old job used to offer seated massages once a week, which were optional but very relaxing!

        What about an afternoon tea party/coffee and cake?

    2. Jenny S.

      Does your city have any cool group-outings or tours you could do (if you want to do something that maybe lasts a few hours)? I’m in Chicago and past employers have done boat tours on the lake and architectural river tours. Bowling is always good, especially if there’s somewhere that has food – pizza and such. Baseball games? Maybe a cupcake tasting or tour? Fancy doughnuts are the new “hot” thing here and barbecue/ pulled-pork and artisan tacos are really popular. Do you have any food trucks? People freak out about food trucks in my city.

    3. Chinook - Chocolate Teapot Social Coordinator

      I highly recommend the commets for the party I am throwing in Jamie’s honour up thread and do the opposite!

        1. A Bug!

          However, now that you mention it, I think a planetary decoration theme might be awesome. You can print a banner that says “Shoot for the moon! Even if you miss, you’ll suffocate in a vacuum land among the stars!”

          (desperately hoping that strikeout code functions in comments)

      1. Rob Bird

        That’s going to make for a short lived party if we are going to bring comets to the party….just ask the dinosaurs. lol

        If that’s the worst spelling mistake you make, you are still doing better then me. I still don’t know which witch is which…..

    4. Bonnie

      There is a CPA firm in the Chicago area that does a cook out in their parking lot in the summer. The owners bring in grills and cook hamburgers and hot dogs with all the fixing for the employees.

      CPAs work a lot of Saturdays between January and April. So one Saturday some of our managers brought in electric grills and made us breakfast, pancakes and bacon.

    5. Cassie

      I’m going to be the anti-social one and say that this doesn’t sound appealing to me. Will it be mandatory? If it is mandatory, or implied that people should attend unless of some extenuating circumstances, I would limit the number of activities each year to just a couple of times per year. Some people will enjoy the get-togethers, others will not.

      Lunch would be good (free food is a big draw for people), but going to an outside event is a bit more iffy. I like the idea of an ice cream cart, but you would also have to consider people who can’t eat sweets or other nutritional issues.

      Whatever you choose to do, make it easy for the staffers. Nothing that requires them to fork over their own money, limit the amount of outside time needed, etc…

    6. Becca

      We had a really really stressful 3 weeks in our office and instead of taking us out to lunch like our bosses normally do they took us bowling for 2 hours, including lunch. It was AWESOME. At first we were all like “…uh…really?” but after such a stressful week it was nice to knock pins down and eat pizza.

  72. nyxalinth

    What are employers looking for when they are wanting someone who is detail oriented? Are they looking for good attention to detail, the ability to catch errors, or someone so nitpicky that they make Sheldon Cooper look slipshod?

    Also, ‘fast paced’. I assume this means it’s constantly busy and they want someone with lots of energy (or who can fake it well) and won’t be trying to goof off online when there’s a minute or so of downtime.

    I know these might seem like silly questions, but I have mostly worked in call centers, and my one ofice position was in a minor role, pretty laid back.

    1. The IT Manager

      It depends. These are really vague terms honestly.

      detail oriented = attention to detail to either catch errors while reviewing work or to be able to enter and add up long columns of numbers in a spread sheet accurately. Not exciting or creative work.

      fast paced = I would think this would describe the office enivroment rather than a person and I’d intepret it as constantly busy, potentially stressful, and with long hours.

      1. nyxalinth

        Makes sense to me. Thanks!

        My creativity is more along the lines of the artsy–writing, crafts and so on, as opposed to in a work environment, so for me, this would be less of an issue. The fast pace, I’m not that sort of person, I don’t think. Just having calls in queue bugs me, much less Go Go Go Go environments.

    2. LMW

      Ooh, these are two things I wished we’d screened better for in our admin. Knowing what I know now:
      Detail oriented means you know when you actually need to check for the details and spend your time appropriately to compensate for the fine-tooth comb treatment on certain tasks. For example, if you are helping organize a large, important, off-site meeting, you’ll double check EVERYTHING so we don’t end up with supplies that aren’t quite what we requested, people who don’t end up on the security lists to access the meeting site, errors in lunch orders, etc. It doesn’t mean I expect all your same time messages to have perfect spelling and grammar. If you are a graphic designer, it means that when you get corrections to a layout and you make them, you double-check your work before sending it back to me.
      Fast Paced: Means you have to be able to stay on top of a lot of different requests or tasks without being overwhelmed. You must be really good at prioritizing. It doesn’t mean you can’t take a minute to relax or have to be “on” all the time or long hours. It means it you might get 10 requests in an hour, and I want someone who can note them all, prioritize them appropriately and either get them done or tell people what the problem is.

      But those are my definitions based on our environment. Other people might mean exactly what you think here!

      1. Christine

        I’m not the person who asked, but your descriptions are very helpful!

        In fact, I’d love to see a thread on decoding some of these buzzwords you see in job ads. Whenever I see certain traits in job requirements, it’s hard for me to say for certain if I match what they’re looking for since the definitions can really vary.

      2. Unanimously Anonymous

        At my company, “fast paced” means you’re trying to sip from a firehose from the second you clock in to the second you clock out. And as for prioritizing? Fuhgeddaboutit, it’s not possible. If our buzzword-spouting, Dilbertesque phony of a CEO has a bug up his backside about the new line of Marzipan Teapots for 2015, your main efforts had damn well better be directed toward that, even if it means you can’t spend enough time on shipping and customer-service tasks for the current Chocolate Teapot products.

  73. Oso

    Here is one that should generate some discussion. Do you think companies are EEOC compliant? I think many many companies are not as compliant as they state.

    1. Elise

      I think that depends on how equal-opportunity your community happens to be in general. In my current area, I would say that the percentage of employees from different backgrounds is about the same at most companies as the percentage in the local population. However, I have lived other places where that has not been the case.

  74. Rob Bird

    The Philosoraptor is very, VERY sorry for the first post in this thread, and begs everybody’s forgiveness for the Big Ben-ness that has come of it…..lol.

    Bacon…….(for you Jamie).

  75. Tim

    Hi everyone,

    I love this web page. I hope I’m not too late for some input. I tend to be sensitive sometimes at work so I would appreciate it if you can give me your honest feedback.

    I took the day off today. I’m still relatively new at my job but I got the day cleared with my boss. On Wednesday, my boss and I and others had a meeting where we were discussing a communications piece. I asked him if I should go ahead and write something up. He said no because we need to wait to hear back from one of the subject matter experts first. The subject matter emailed back late Thursday and like I said I was off today. My boss went ahead and wrote up the communications piece. Should I be concerned about that or was he just doing that because I was off.

    He also emailed me asking if I could teach him how to post on our website. That’s a major part of my job and I don’t want that taken away either. How can I approach him with my concerns? Is this even a concern? Or is he just doing that to be my backup when I’m not in the office?

    Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

    1. Anon

      Over-thinking this. The piece couldn’t move forward before, and then could while you’re off today. Sounded like something that didn’t need to wait until Monday. Its good that your boss wants to know how to post things, based on today’s schedule. Purely backup. If something needs to go up and you’re off/traveling/ill/busy, he wants to make sure he knows how.

    2. Natalie

      With things like this, it’s best to assume good faith. If you later notice there is a pattern you can certainly approach you boss, but for a one-off issue just take some deep breaths and keep doing a good job.

    3. Runon

      I agree you are over thinking. It might be good to come up with documentation and make sure your boss has it should he ever need to do it when you aren’t around. I know that it might seem like that is you making it easier for them to get rid of you but I do that often, all the time. And the only thing it has gotten me was praise and the ability to hand off jobs I didn’t like to someone else. Create a well written step by step on how to do it and give him a quick training.

    4. Canada

      I do a lot of web stuff in my current position. Other than our IT Admin, I’m the only one who really knows how. My boss has asked me to prepare a tutorial for him of how to post to the website and any other important relevant info, and I never even considered it to be a bad thing. It just makes sense to have more than one person know how to do web updates in case of time off and also the fact that you probably won’t be there forever.

    5. Jamie

      Over thinking it, but I’m not judging, I do that too.

      It’s really good to have other people know how to post stuff in case you’re off, busy, or whatever. It’s an area you do want redundancy.

  76. Lare

    Simple question here and I probably already know what the answer’s going to be.
    I got my forklift ticket after passing a 2-3 hour practical exam in trade school, which was also practice for me since I’ve never driven one before then, but it’s been a few months since I’ve graduated and I never got the chance to practice driving the forklift. I’d like to improve my forklift driving skills and I don’t really have the time to go to a school, so my question is: I don’t suppose I can just stick the forklift ticket and experience on my resume, can I? :P (I haven’t so far)

    1. Kristi

      So you have the forklift ticket, and some experience/practice driving which is good. Is more schooling necessary, just for the practice? Or can you volunteer somewhere that needs drivers?

      1. Lare

        I don’t think more schooling’s necessary, but I do need the practice as I’m not confident in driving. Volunteer work sounds good though, I can’t believe that slipped my mind. Thanks for the reply!

    2. Lynne

      If you have the ticket, I don’t see why you couldn’t put it on your resume. You’re not lying about that, after all…your lack of subsequent experience with forklifts is a separate issue.

      It may be pretty clear to employers just by looking at your resume that you haven’t actually driven them in the workplace, but if you’re concerned it’s not clear and don’t want them to assume more experience than you have, you could always bring it up in an interview or in a cover letter – for example, “I got my forklift ticket a few months ago and I’m looking forward to getting some practical experience driving forklifts in the real world.”

      FWIW, both of my brothers learned to drive forklifts after being hired, and I don’t have the impression that employers would raise a brow at the fact that you have a ticket but not much experience yet; they can probably provide some on-the-job training. But they might like to know that you do already have the ticket, if that’s the kind of job you’re applying for. I’d put it on there.

      1. Lare

        All of that’s true, haha.

        I did think of bringing it up in an interview or cover letter a few times but my nervousness because of lack of experience got the better of me, I guess. I had to drive through our school’s metal shop backwards with people and fuel tanks all over the place while carrying a long piece of metal on the forks. It was pretty scary for my first time but my instructor was great in guiding me through it.

        Thanks a lot for your and Kristi’s input! I really appreciate it.

  77. Anonymous

    Would anyone else support a call to do open threads more often? I originally suggested once a month, but I love Friday therapy. :)

      1. Kristi

        There’s kind of an Ask a Manager forum over on Linked In. Networking group, and one subgroup specific to resumes.

        AAM, I like your ideas of republishing and “ask the readers.”

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I also need to figure out what to do for the two weeks in October that I’ll be nowhere near a computer. I’m thinking a combination of re-published posts from years ago and a bunch of “ask the readers.”

      1. Your Mileage May Vary

        Maybe some reader guest-writers? I’d love to hear more from some of the regulars. I love everything Marie has contributed, for instance.

      2. Chinook - Chocolate Teapot Social Coordinator

        I echo YMMV – it would be great to have columns from some of your regulars.

  78. darsenfeld

    I am currently compiling a promotion proposal for myself. What points should such a document generally contain?

  79. Cassie

    My friend is in HR and we were discussing ways that supervisors and managers should give feedback to employees. My friend mentioned that a supervisor wanted to take an employee out to lunch to discuss the employee’s poor performance issues. I told her it sounded like a really bad idea. I don’t care if the employee is high up on the food chain or that it’s likely the employee will freak out when critiqued. I feel that feedback is best given directly (no sandwiching technique, and no sandwiches either!). If the employee doesn’t take it well, that’s the employee’s own issue to deal with. Taking someone out to lunch and then discussing poor performance just seems like a really awkward idea.

    Anyone else think so?

    1. Kristi

      Agreed. I’m also anti-meeting/interview/anything over lunch in general, between noise factor or worrying about not making a mess. If the supervisor/employee had a decent relationship, maybe coffee if its nearby, convenient and some privacy. Otherwise, just another private meeting on the calendar at the office. If the supervisor thought the employee would become upset or have a hard time focusing afterwards, I’d schedule at the end of the day or maybe before lunch so he/she can regroup.

      1. Lindsay

        I’d prefer coffee over lunch if I was the person receiving the feedback.

        I wouldn’t be able to focus on eating if I was listening to the supervisor’s feedback. I also wouldn’t like being stuck making awkward small-talk before or after the feedback – if I knew it was coming – and for lunch you have to wait for somebody to come take your order, wait for the food, wait for the check, etc.

        If I didn’t know bad feedback was coming when the lunch was arranged I would feel a little blindsided by the whole arrangement and would want it to be over as soon as possible.

        Coffee at least gets you out of the office, can feel a little more private, and also does not involve waiting around. If the employee needs to make a quick exit to avoid becoming emotional or to process the feedback they can do so more gracefully over coffee than they can lunch.

        1. Cassie

          Hmmm, interesting thoughts. I was adamantly opposed to the idea of lunch because that’s not how a meeting to discuss poor performance would be handled for anyone else in the dept. It’s only because this employee is high up on the totem pole and known for outbursts. The second reason I was opposed to it was because of logistics – which restaurant would they go to? It couldn’t be too far away but it can’t be somewhere many of our faculty/staff/students frequent. Do you tell the person the purpose of the meeting beforehand, or do you just say “we need to discuss something”?

          Coffee is something that I hadn’t considered, but I can definitely see the upside. A meeting over coffee in the late afternoon means that there would be fewer people inside the eatery at that time (compared to lunch time). It would also let the employee go home soon afterwards. The drinks would also provide the employee (and the boss) an opportunity to compose/calm themselves down if necessary. I had read that if you need a moment to compose your thoughts, you should take a sip of water. That could come in handy here. And it reduces the amount of awkwardness involved in a meeting that involves food.

          I’ll have to suggest it to my friend. I’m assuming that the employee should have an idea of *why* they are going to coffee (e.g., to discuss performance)?

  80. Steve G

    Question – why does it seem like the majority of people here work for non-profits? I don’t know one person who works for a non-profit? Do I just not understand all of the types of organizations that fall under “non-profit?” When I hear “non-profit,” I think charity or something like the Animal Defense Fund, which has a cause and does a service, but isn’t handing out money. I can’t believe so many people work in such organizations.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I really don’t think they’re overrepresented here. You just notice it when someone mentions working for a nonprofit, but generally don’t notice it when it’s not mentioned. And it’s not mentioned a lot more often than it’s mentioned!

      (That said, there are loads of different types of nonprofits aside from advocacy and service groups: trade associations, education groups, religious institutions, museums, etc. And of course, nonprofits have all the same types of jobs as the for-profit sector, and then some: accountants, web people,, editors, I.T., etc.)

      1. Jamie

        Yep, like The Powder Coating Institute is non-profit, but not a charitable org. Tons of things like that out there.

    2. Lexy

      Insurance companies are often non-profits! Fun fact!

      Although it would be weird if anyone who worked for an insurer said they worked for a non-profit rather than an insurance company… they may be NP, but their industry is insurance…

  81. Confused

    Suggestion for Alison:
    I’m not sure if this is possible or how it might be done, but is there any way to get an OP’s comments highlighted or somehow tagged to stand out in the comment section? As this blog’s popularity has grown (kudos to you) there are more and more comments. Sometimes I like to see if the OP has given updates or clarified something and it’s not always easy to spot those comments (doing a search for “OP” doesn’t always get the best results). Just a suggestion.
    While I’m at it, thank you for taking the time to write this blog. It’s been very helpful. Also, I hope your foot is better!

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      That would be cool to do! Unfortunately there’s no way to have it happen automatically, so I’d have to do it manually, which realistically isn’t possible. But I agree it would be nice!

  82. buttons

    I have a question involving cancelling an interview.

    I have an interview scheduled on Tuesday with a company that makes a popular game involving teapots. At first I was excited because the position seemed like a lot of fun. I enjoyed my phone interview and eagerly accepted an interview for next week.

    This week has been incredibly busy for me and I didn’t have the chance to play the teapot game until late Thursday and I hate it. It bores me so much and it isn’t my cup of tea at all. I’ve been playing it off and on today (Friday) and I just can’t get into it. The position involves interacting with the players and fans of the teapot game and I’m not sure how to do that when the teapots bore me to tears.

    Should I cancel first thing Monday morning? I don’t want to waste the teapot company’s time but I would feel so rude for cancelling the day before the interview.

    1. Josh S

      Customer interaction and brand representation can be an entirely different cup of tea (pun intended) from the actual game play.

      I mean, I am pretty much over Words With Friends, but if it were a job with Zynga in customer support, I could see that being agnostic to the amount you care about that game–you’re making sure their experience is good and that the company is represented well. A job like that isn’t going to be about playing and liking the game anyway, even if you really loved Teapots.

      And you may want to revisit your motivation for applying for various jobs — very very few jobs are going to be “fun”. They call it work for a reason, after all. :/

      Consider going on the interview anyway, unless it’s a significant inconvenience to you AND you’re certain you’d turn them down if they made you an offer. You can always turn them down later without burning the bridge. If, though, it IS a big inconvenience (having to take a day off your current job, etc) AND you’d turn the job down anyway, then you can cancel.

      Be apologetic for the late notice, and let them know that you’re withdrawing your candidacy. Thank them for the opportunity. Preferably by email. You don’t have to say anything beyond that.

      1. buttons

        Thank you for taking the time to respond to me.

        I was under the impression that the position was focused on customer service, with the opportunity to occasionally travel to meet the players. The phone interview made it obvious that I would be serving more as a brand ambassador than I was first led to believe. I can’t imagine doing that when the teapot game isn’t enjoyable for me and there are so many passionate players who truly love the game and require an advocate who can properly serve their needs.

        I don’t expect to have fun at any job but this is a position where you’re supposed to be passionate about the game. The job description noted that it would be great if you were a teapot fan but the phone interview made it quite clear that I had to be a teapot aficionado from the start. They even want to test my skills playing the game during the interview!

        I guess my problem is that after I processed what was discussed during the phone interview, I realized that it wasn’t a good fit for me or for the company. I just feel so guilty cancelling the interview and wasting their time. On the other hand, I would be wasting their time by going to the interview knowing I have no intention of accepting the position.

        I believe I will take your last paragraph and write a draft email and think it over the rest of the weekend. And if I send anything it will be before 9AM Monday morning. Thanks.

        1. Josh S

          After the detail about being a big fan, playing the game, etc, it makes sense why you wouldn’t want to be interested in the job. Canceling the interview, even a day beforehand, isn’t rude (so long as you actually CANCEL it and don’t just do a no-call no-show thing).

          It frees them up to do other things with those hours of their day. Write the email, sleep on it, and then send it. (And you can send it on a Sunday…email doesn’t go bad over teh weekend. :p )

        2. FD

          I would be honest, and say something like:

          “Thank you so much for your consideration. After doing further research, I feel this particular position would not be the best fit at this time, and would like to withdraw from consideration.

          Once again, thank you for considering me, and I’d love to hear about other opportunities with your company in the future.”

          Truthfully, they may even be more likely to consider you in the future because you were serious enough about the job to recognize it just isn’t for you!

  83. Hospitality EA

    I don’t know any admin assistants in real life to ask, so if any admins out there could share the following information, it’d help me a lot in salary renegotiation:

    SALARY:
    INDUSTRY:
    LOCATION:
    YEARS OF ADMIN EXPERIENCE:
    TITLE:

    And here’s my info:

    SALARY: $37,500
    INDUSTRY: Hospitality
    LOCATION: Washington, DC
    YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 1 year
    TITLE: Executive Assistant

    Am I being underpaid?

    1. Josh S

      Maybe I’m naive, but I think *any* position that pays $37.5k at 1 year experience is pretty decent. Especially these days.

      When I started out as a new college grad in Chicagoland (with plenty of PT/retail work experience under my belt), the best I could find was in the neighborhood of $28-30k, or worse still $25k +commission (high pressure) sales jobs. Granted, that was 10 years ago, but given the economy and the high number of unemployed recent grads, your salary doesn’t sound too awful. And I know that cost of living in DC is higher than Chicago, but still… I don’t think it’s awful.

      Anyone else in that industry have another opinion?

      1. Hospitality EA

        Thank you for the input. To clarify, that’s 1 year in the admin role, but about 4 years of work experience overall. I worked at the front desk before I got this job.