open thread

photo 1It’s our monthly open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything you want to talk about. (If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.)

I think we’ll get lighter traffic here than usual because of the holiday, but have at it…

{ 840 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    Is it weird that I look forward to the open threads mostly because of the kitty pictures?

    Maybe that should be the default for those questions that you always have to have the same answer for.

    “Can I change the fact that my boss is a lunatic?” Kitty.
    “Is this legal?” Kitty. (Except in California)
    “How should I read between the lines to determine if I got the job from this follow up email?” Kitty.
    “Is this my dream job?” Kitty.

    1. Felicia*

      A picture of grumpy cat with Yes. underneath should be the answer for all the “Is it legal?” questions, except the rare one that actually isn’t legal.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      No, it’s not weird. I look forward to the open thread for the kitty pictures also. :)

    3. nyxalinth*


      “My boss is demanding perfectly reasonable behaviors/work from me! Please tell me she’s just a big meanie!” Kitty.

      “Waaah, so and so does such and such and doesn’t get in trouble!” Kitty.

      “How come my genuinely idiot co-worker gets treated like gold, even though they’ve effed up xyz over the year and they don’t get fired?” Kitty. Kitty.


    4. Pussyfooter*

      So far, last month’s kitty photo is my favorite.

      Also…now everyone’s had a while to see my name change without any sneakiness, I’m dropping the old screen name (oneofthemichelles). Yay!

      1. De Minimis*

        The cat at my house would offer biting as a solution to just about every problem, along with the occasional hiss.

        1. tcookson*

          My cat would, too! We’ve been trying to train her to not bite, so now she’ll do a really soft, nibbling bite while watching you intently the whole time to see if she might get away with a real chomp!

        1. tcookson*

          I hadn’t seen that, either. I had to call my daughter over to watch it with me — twice!

  2. Just a Reader*

    I am wondering if anyone has had PTSD-type feelings from a previous job. I don’t think that’s what I actually have, but I’ve been in my current job a year and it’s pretty wonderful.

    Still, I get a nervous/sick feeling when there are closed doors, when I’m called into unidentified meetings, etc. because this is when my old boss would drop the hammer and I would find out all the closed door meetings were about me and the unidentified meeting was a nasty surprise.

    These weren’t performance issues, but he would have conversations with me that went “Hey, nobody really likes you” or “It was completely unacceptable that you asked for that office and everyone is shocked” or “People at your level who want to move up don’t take three vacation days in a row” etc.

    So…this is really long…but I’m award-winning top performance in my current job and work in a friendly, functional workplace where nobody has ever given me unprofessional feedback or set any kind of trap.

    Wondering if anyone else has dealt with a shift like this and how long it takes to feel safe and comfortable in a new environment.

    1. De Minimis*

      I go through it sometimes too….I crashed and burned at the job prior to my current one, and still get nervous anytime one of my supervisors calls or asks to meet with me. I know everything is fine, and my mid-year evaluation was good, but I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Still have a bad case of impostor syndrome even though I’m learning more and doing much more than at my previous job.

      I also still think about what happened at my prior job a lot, and still harbor a lot of resentment even though much of it was due to my taking a job where I suspected I might be a poor fit.

      I don’t know when it will get better…my year anniversary at my current job will be soon, maybe at that point, since I will have officially lasted longer than I did at the prior job.

      1. Just a Reader*

        Are you having the dreams? I am still getting them from time to time. My friend who quit for the same reason said hers lasted 6 months and I’m obviously beyond that.

        The irony of all this is that I was a high performer and in the meeting where I gave my notice, he beat me to the punch and told me I was getting promoted. He used these tactics to keep control of people.

        1. De Minimis*

          I mainly just have the dreams similar to the “back in school” dreams that people have…I’m back there, I know I don’t work there anymore, but people are still acting like I’m working there.

          1. Jessa*

            Yes, I have dreams like this. I had a job I really liked except the owner was off his rocker and if he didn’t have a decent manager between you and him you got trampled a lot. I ended up quitting when we had a fight about a chair. Literally. I had a reasonable accommodation, AND voc rehab was about to buy me a specialty chair. But he was changing the decor and OMG it would kill his aesthetic if I dared to keep the current chair I was using (that he owned outright) because OMG it was brown not red, until the new chair for me arrived.

            I finally gave up trying to deal with him. I still have dreams about working for that guy.

        2. tcookson*

          When my current boss became the new department head, and thus my new boss, I had heard so many things about what a diva (divo?) he is that I had a dream that our building was a tall, dark tower; I was hiding behind a tree in the woods waiting to get into the building without him seeing me, but he was keeping a lookout from the top story, occupying the only lit window. I didn’t want to go in at all, but I had trimmed half of my co-worker’s hair the day before, and I had promised her I would trim the other half that day. The only thing making me go to work was loyalty to my team.

          BTW, the boss turned out not to be bad at all. He does a lot of things that non-adaptable people find very annoying, but I’m very flexible and adaptable, so he doesn’t bother me at all!

      2. tcookson*

        I do still get anxiety about going on vacations or taking time off, because there is a person (not my boss) who uses times when other people are out to talk trash (up the ladder to people who really don’t know what we do well enough to know better) and make herself look better at someone else’s expense. She had the dean convinced that there was something wrong with my performance for over a year, until she started doing the same thing to the other assistants.

        Then all our bosses (the department heads) had a meeting where they compared notes about all the untruths she’d told them, confronted the dean with the whole ugly truth, and she was disciplined and was stripped of any oversight of the admins.

        I’m still very wary of what she’s up to, though, because I can tell she’s just biding her time to “redeem” herself, which of course will be at someone else’s expense. She’ll be looking for somebody to make some sort of mistake so she can point it out and, blowing it out of all proportion, “prove” that she was “right” all along about them.

        So now every time I take time off, I’m worried that some little mistake that I may have made it going to be used by her for some sort of weird, power-play leverage.

    2. Beth*

      So sorry you are feeling this way. I have seen this happen to other employees. I highly encourage you to seek professional assistance. This is difficulty you need help overcoming. Tactics for coping may include reminding yourself, when you feel that anxiety, that you are working in a safe place now. It’s not joke. I truly feel for you. Don’t feel bad if you need assistance moving past it.

      1. Just a Reader*

        I would love to but I’m about to have a baby. And actually maternity leave is giving me anxiety too, even though I know I’ll be getting my duties back, and everyone is saying they don’t know what they’ll do without me and planning to throw me a baby shower.

    3. Foam chick*

      Hang in there. My company used to be owned by a man who threw toddler-strength temper tantrums during production meetings. He would threaten to fire people, tell us we were all expendable and pound his fists and yell. That was three years ago and I still cringe when I hear yelling/loud noises in the office.

    4. Making Plans*

      The root issue is condemnation. Though that happened once (or even a number of times), it’s a process of learning how to prevent the mental hijack where you believe you are the target. It may take persistence, but you will eventually encounter these feelings/thoughts no more.

      How to do it? When it happens, find a way to speak out loud (to yourself) the truth of the situation. “I am an award winning top performer that people want to be around and if anyone had feedback for me, they value me enough to share their opinion of which I would definitely accommodate.” Feel free to find something more brief.

      People will have their opinions and some may even set their traps but it’s a lot easier to have that conversation with a boss or HR if you hold the firm belief of your success in your mind. Your defense, if it came to that, would be hampered if you continually were in fear or belief of something negative about your performance was true. You will make mistakes but you yourself are not a mistake as you are capable of exponentially positive improvement.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        My best friend has ptsd from work, too. Her whole department consistently disrespected her, made fun of her, and took every opportunity to put her down. She’s out of there now, and when she meets people and they’re nice to her, she’s kind of thrown. I started telling her “normal people like you” every time because it’s true. After one year, it’s starting to help her.

        1. Jessa*

          It’s very hard especially if you’ve been seriously gaslighted by the former place. You don’t really believe that real normal people DO like you. Because they make you think they are normal while they’re pulling the rug out. I am so stealing all this advice for myself too.

          And you are an amazing friend.

    5. S.A*

      I was at a retail job for 6 years and then at my last job for 5 (fired last month & currently looking for a new job; I am probably going to have a lot of paranoia at my next job, at least for awhile, *sigh*). 5 years out, there were still things I was paranoid about from the previous job. Most of the stuff I had gotten over- it was the deep rooted things, comments about my personality and people’s perception of me, that took the longest to subside or were still in the process of subsiding. And I finally started to change those things when I got to a point where my coworkers were universally supportive and nurturing of not only my career, but also made me as a person feel accepted and that I was worthy of that acceptance. It was really hard for me to open myself up to taking POSITIVE feedback and actions to heart- it’s so much easier to focus on the negatives and believe those. I’m still in the process of training myself to believe that I’m a good person and one worthy of being in a positive setting- when I started to do it (and it’s a slow process, trust me, especially because we’re never going to be totally free of negative criticism, constructive or otherwise), I started to be more self-assured.

      1. Just a Reader*

        I wonder if it’s also a “time in the seat” thing. I was in this job for 8 years and it was so hard to leave it behind from an identity perspective.

        1. S.A*

          Probably- I’m a very shy, introverted person with very little socializing- I put way too much of my identity into my job, which is really terrible and I have to stop doing. (And since I’m out of a job, I’m figuring out a lot more of, “Oh- this is who I am, not WHAT I do.”) I also come from a midwestern, German Catholic background and with a father who worked at the same company for 30+ years. At this point, I feel like a terrible failure for working at 3 companies in my 33 years of life so far instead of 1 company for my ENTIRE life.

          I see from one of your above comments that you’re going to have a baby soon- congrats! I also see that you’re worried about maternity leave. Have you heard of or read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg yet? If you haven’t, I’d definitely recommend it- it’s not 100% perfect and there are some criticisms of her and her circumstances, but she makes some really great points about motherhood, careers, maternity leave, etc. I just finished it yesterday and it might be able to help you with some of your anxiety.

          1. PTSD, Too*

            I’m with you, too, S.A. on the “put way too much of my identity into my job.” However, I think that’s a hallmark or American culture, no? Especially when you first start out and feel a ton of pressure to “prove” yourself. I know this also stems from my own parents: both were workaholics and stressed the importance of your performance. If I didn’t get straight A’s, I was a disappointment. I’ve been out of college for about 4 years now and my current job at a well respected agency is the first time I’ve earned my parents’ respect. They’ve also guilted me about not sticking long enough with a “real” company to “climb the ranks.”

            I’m glad to hear you’re figuring out defining yourself outside your occupation, though. Good luck!

          2. danr*

            You still have time to find that company. (btdt) Then when you’re 63, you’ll turn around and ask ‘Where did the time go?’

          3. Just a Reader*

            Thank you–I’ve been planning to read Lean In and this is a good incentive.

    6. Rebecca*

      Yes! I was in the job from hell and got laid off three years ago. I landed another job right away (closer to home, better pay, better hours, coworkers I got along with…total upgrade) and I still get those nervous feelings sometimes. They have decreased with time for sure, though.

      It’s a big transition to go from dreading work every day and crying on the way home to actually liking your environment. My new work situation isn’t even “perfect” but I feel so much more comfortable.

      I still have “flashbacks” to bad situations at the old job. Nothing debilitating, but sometimes I’ll remember something and have a hard time stopping thinking about it! I have to tell myself, “That was years ago! Stop dwelling on it.”

      Congrats on the new job and I hope you feel safer soon.

      1. Renee Nichol*

        This is exactly how I feel! I worked at a layoff-happy company for 2 years. I don’t even now how I made it that long since just about everyone who I started with got laid off or quit at some point during those 2 years. When the other shoe finally dropped for me, it was definitely a stressful moment, but I also felt so relieved. I found an amazing job a few months later – the kind of job where I feel valued and happy. I’ve been there almost 4 months, and I do still get nervous every time my manager throws a random meeting on my calendar or I see an unscheduled closed-door meeting happening with team leads. I’m definitely less nervous now than when I started (when I’d have stress dreams about this stuff multiple nights a week), but it does take time! When I start feeling nervous, I try to remind myself of some of the positive feedback I’ve gotten and that usually helps calm me down :)

    7. Ruffingit*

      This is not unusual. I have been through it and I know others who have as well. I also called it PTSD because I couldn’t think of anything else to call it that really described it.

      To be honest, I don’t know if it ever really goes away completely. Not to scare you, but I think it stays with you, it just lessens. In a way, it’s like grief over someone’s death. Over time, you still feel it, but it doesn’t affect you all the time in major ways.

      Hang in there. I worked for six months for someone who had incredible mental problems and was ridiculously abusive. I quit the job with no job to go to. It was that or lose all my sanity. I took a couple of months to just breath and deal with it before I could go forward.

      You are definitely not alone here. HUGS! I know it’s hard.

      1. Anonymous*

        Late to this, but yeah, PTSD (or PJSD = post-job stress disorder) is real. I left a job and had no idea how stressed I was until I left it. It made me leery of interactions with other people, it made me question other people’s motives (He said hello–wonder what he meant by that?) to the point that I was shocked when people I worked with were reasonable, interested individuals. I found myself assuming characteristics not in evidence based on the culture of the previous employer. I had to dial back those tendencies, lest I appear paranoid.

    8. Jen in RO*

      I was telling someone today that I feel like I’m suffering from coworker PSTD. My interrupting-20-times-a-day coworker is on long term leave and someone else moved in her spot. Every time the new person moves, I feel like cowering behind my monitor!

    9. LisaLyn*

      You are getting great comments here, and I’ll just add that I think it also just takes time. You have to build your self-esteem back up, which is what was being torn down while working for mean jerks.

    10. StellaMaris*

      You can totally get PTSD-like symptoms from your job. I even had an Unemployment Office employee tell me to take some time before I seriously started looking, because I looked (in his words) shell-shocked, like everyone else he’d seen that came in after being laid off from from my former employer. I’m still dealing with the aftermath of my immediate past-employer, a 6 foot tall, 275 pound guy who would put his fists through the wall when he got angry. I can tell you that it does get better, but slowly. I’m three years away from that guy, and it still lingers, in the way you describe.

    11. Amanda*

      YES. I have moved on and the culture difference is night and day. Not saying that bad stuff can’t happen anywhere, but my previous job was a nightmare of endless high school level nastiness. I got screamed at once for using one (1) piece of foam board because we “didn’t have any budget for that, and you’re not allowed to involve any other departments.” In an organization-wide project. We’d get called into meetings and told to stay put because everyone not in the meeting was being fired. We once got called into another meeting and told that among the four of us at a particular grade, one would be fired in 9 months, and they’d tell us which it was in 3 more months. On and on and on. There was something new every day.

      I still find it incredibly difficult to believe that employers value their employees, that they want to be fair, and that (this in nonprofits) everyone works together for a common goal. I went home several times after starting my job and just burst into tears because after years of being treated horribly at my old job, several coworkers at my new job made a point to tell me how well and how quickly I was excelling.

      Which is to say, YES.

    12. PTSD, Too*

      I’m so relieved to hear someone else has PTSD symptoms, too!

      I had a slew of really terrible jobs and bosses for about 2.5 years while I was figuring out where I was headed career wise. I was fired after sending an email to the wrong person (I still stress about wording in emails to clients 2 years later), a CEO from another job would fire someone who gave her “attitude” as a way to deal with the stress from her marriage, and another boss I had told me to “Shut up because part of being a business owner means getting you to do things the way I want them done.” However, nothing beats the narcissistic boss I had who made me use my own laptop for work purposes, then would scream obscenities at me because its paltry 2GB couldn’t open a word document quickly enough to satisfy him.

      As a result, although I have the results that prove I’m a good, strong worker, I’m still paranoid the work I do isn’t good enough, I’ll be fired at any moment, and, whenever there’s a closed door, people are complaining that I’m not doing enough, etc. :(

    13. Chinook*

      Absolutely. After one nightmare position, I literally had to rethink whether or not I wanted to be a teacher and took baby steps to get back on my feet by looking for temp work in what I knew to be a safe environment (i.e. I actually knew the coworkers, some of whom had taught me). But, I still get lingering thoughts of being generally incompetent (which I generally beat away by reminding myself that even the cops and the kid’s grandmother couldn’t calm him down and that other, more experienced, teachers left before me).

      Time and clarity does help. So does doing a “lessons learned” session with yourself and looking at what, if anything, you would/could do differently if in the same situation again. PTSD, I believe, partly comes from feeling helpless, so it helps to realize what your limitations are.

      1. Just a Reader*

        I really appreciate all the thoughtful comments…it helps to know I”m not alone! ANd there’s great advice here. Thank you.

        1. IronMaiden*

          Yes, I suffer from quite marked anxiety at work, as well as nightmares and panic attacks away from work as a result of being assaulted at work. I still work in the same place, in a different area. I will be starting a new job next month and hope that I can move on and heal.

    14. Meg*

      I’ve been there too, although from a slightly different perspective. I spent a (brief) amount of time working at an insurance company, where I basically cold-called people and tried to convince them to meet me in person so I could sell them insurance. It was hands down the worst job I’ve ever had. The manager was horribly unprofessional, rude, and unsupportive, the general atmosphere was viciously competitive, and I felt awful about the “work” I was doing (scheming my way into seniors’ homes). I had, and still have, a lot of anxieties surrounding my experience at that job, and I have to constantly remind myself that I’m in a much better environment now. It helps that I work in a field that I love.

    15. EngineerGirl*

      Years? I still get a sick stomach on occasion, and it has been 5 years from my psycho job. I have to keep reminding my self that I work for a great boss, and that he wouldn’t pull the sort of stunts dysfunctional program would pull. Repeat.

      1. charlotte*

        Thank you to the OP and everyone else who has made such helpful comments. I have found this thread so reassuring – it’s not just me who still has flashbacks about my old job after all.

    16. Lindsay J*

      Yes, you’re not the only one. I was fired rather unexpectedly at my old job, and there were a lot of other issues with the way things were handled throughout the organization (the yelling, OMG the yelling). My behavior was definitely different when I started my new job – I was a little gunshy from the whole previous experience and it showed.

      My mind is still not convinced that my new job isn’t going to pull me into an office and go, “By the way, everyone hates you, you suck at your job, and you’re fired,” even though they are all lovely people, they don’t hate me, and they have shown no inclination towards firing anyone and especially not me.

      I’ve only been here three months so I’m not sure when it ends, but you’re certainly not alone in dealing with it.

    17. Brton3*

      Believe it or not, I saw a therapist who raised the possibility of PTSD with me because of my job. I had very serious physical symptoms, including really bad dermatological issues that made everyone worry about me, and in retrospect I realize that I was in a pretty deep depression for a couple years. I was also very high functioning and well regarded in my job but I was dealing with a relentlessly abusive boss.

      I have been in a new job now for less than a year, but it has been night and day – the change has been wonderful. However, I am still dealing with major anxiety, especially when I realize I’ve made a very small mistake – I will be terrified until I finally tell my boss (sometimes it’s not even something that needs to be fixed!). In my previous job, even small inconsequential problems led to huge blow-ups that, in retrospect, were almost comically dramatic.

      I have been fortunate that my new job is such a warm supportive environment with an especially warm and supportive boss. Plus, I had some accomplishments very quickly, which made me feel good, although that didn’t mean anything in the old job.

      I don’t know how long it will take for me to really feel confident and qualified again, and to not wait in terror for some irrational screaming fight to erupt. I need to get out of my old pattern of thinking that I am incompetent and my well-done work is actually all a time bomb waiting to ruin the company, which is how I was made to feel in my last job. I still feel that way, and it’s challenging because my new job is high responsibility/high expectations. But it’s a much better situation and my physical symptoms cleared up very quickly.

  3. Felicia*

    Most embarrassing interview moment? I recently fell on the floor, brought the chair I was going to sit in down with me. And then during the interview, I spilled the glass of water they offered me all over my shirt. I still turn red just thinking about it. So maybe hearing about what everyone else has done will make me feel less embarrassed:)

    The bruise i got on my knee from that is faded but still there.

    1. Jen*

      I once ripped my skirt getting out of the car. I thought “Ok, this isn’t great, but I’ll be sitting under a table the whole time” and I was – a glass top table. You could see the rip and way too much leg.

      1. Lizabeth*

        Interviewing for a graphic design job and mentioned a really ugly, badly written radio spot for a condo development (for some reason, don’t remember why) and quickly discovered that said company I was interviewing for it did it. Managed not to crawl under the seat as the interviewer snapped “Well, you remembered the ad, didn’t you?” My reply? “I remembered it for the wrong reasons…” Needless to say, didn’t get the job :)

        1. Esra*

          Ha! Been there.

          If I ever get into teaching design, I will share these two gems with every student:
          1. Never show the client a design you don’t like, they will love it.
          2. Never trash a design in an interview or your first 3 months of work at a new job.

    2. Poe*

      I have 2. I walked out of an interview to discover the new pants I had bought for the interview (first interview after college!) had the size sticker still on…one of the long ones all the way down the front of the leg. The interview was not at a table, just sitting in chairs. Awesome.

      On a different occasion I was sitting in a swivel chair, which I accidentally spun around while fidgeting (I am a fidgeter extraordinaire). To my immense horror, my mouth moved on its own to say “wheeeeeeeeeee” as the chair rotated around 2 full turns. I got the job, but still cringe years later when I think about it.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit*

        Haha! This reminds me of my first-ever horse show. I totally did the same thing – came into the ring yelling “woooooohoooooo!” with the excitement of it all.

      2. Rana*

        I know that must have been mortifying at the time, but I have to admit I just laughed. Out loud.

    3. Claire*

      I threw up (sort of). Still remains my motto: “well, that didn’t go great, but at least you didn’t hurl!”

        1. Claire*


          I got carsick on the taxi ride over, and threw up upon getting out of the car but didn’t want to just hurl on the ground of their lovely campus. There were no trashcans anywhere, and I tried to go in the building (still with my mouth tightly closed) and find a bathroom, but I couldn’t, so I swallowed it. TA-DA!

    4. Bonnie*

      Fell down in skirt on the way to the interview and did the entire interview with my knee red, raw and not quite bleeding.

    5. Janet*

      Realized when I got to the interview that I was wearing a blue suit jacket and a black suit skirt. And in the light of the conference room, it was painfully obvious.

  4. Gene*

    I was the first one into the office this morning and had to make my own coffee. What am I, an animal?

    1. Jamie*

      I’m the only one here today and am too lazy to make my own coffee…so I’m drinking yesterday’s water and just ate 3 stale Pringles.

      I have Golden Girls reruns on in the background to break the dead silence and and wearing way too big yoga pants and one of my husbands shirts.

      And who says IT isn’t glamorous?!

      1. CatK*

        Yoga pants, husband shirt, and stale pringles.


        (Working from home, still in pajamas, but I did take a shower.)

      2. Sean*

        Thanks for making me feel better about dressing down! I thought I dressed down today with a collared shirt and grey jeans. Some days I wish IT was more glamorous!

    2. JustMe*

      I didn’t have the motivation to make my own coffee. I paid hospital cafeteria prices (I work in a hospital) instead. Sad.

    3. Kelly O*

      I’m the only one in my little quad of cubicles. I am catching up on some small things and listening to podcasts (with headphones, there are still other people in cubes next to me.)

      By the way, catching up on The Station Agents and A Podcast of Ice and Fire? Totally makes a slow day go faster!

    4. Anonymous*

      We have one coworker who makes the coffee. Last week she was out. When she came back my boss says “oh you made me coffee, these two ( me And a second coworker) have been treating me bad.

      1. Chinook*

        Anjd right there is the arguement for a single serve coffee machine. Well, that and the ability to have Kahlua flavoured coffee during work hours (though in Calgary the real stuff has been known to be offered at the pancake breakfasts and is known as “cowboy coffee”) .

        1. Chinook*

          And yes, that is 2 cowboy references in a row. It is the start of Stampede and everyone is dressed in jeans, cowboy shirts, hats and boots and soon the morning walk to work will be filled with the smell of pancakes.

          And for those who may tease us, I have learned to look at this like I do the Obon festival in Japan – it is a celebration of where we come from and a reason to party. And really can’t be considered a costume if you wear parts, if not all, of your stampede outfit at other times of year because it is comfortable and/or practical. If I, the very white gaijin, could wear a yukata in Hokkaido without comment, no one should razz me abotu wearing a roper shirt and straw hat in a place where I am actually from.

          1. EA*

            as someone who has never been to Calgary during the Stampede (or any other time, for that matter), I’m curious as to what Pancakes have to do with Stampede?

            1. Chinook*

              Pancake breakfasts are everywhere. The tradition is that ranch work requires a hearty breakfast and it is easy to feed a crowd with pancakes (and sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs and and anything else you can cook on a flat surface with minimal grease). For example, the morning after my wedding, my dad set up the griddle in my kitchen and was able to feed 20 people with little stress.

              So, Calgarians use it as a type of networking/customer and client appreciation/PR event and a lot of companies throw pancake breakfasts (there are also meat on a bun and BBQ lunches and dinners). Any money, if charged, goes to charity and it really is a way to network as it is casual and there are rarely assigned seats (think picnic tables or pub tables around a parking lot). The really good ones serve champagne with OJ or Bailey’s or Kahlua for your coffee and it is one of the few times where places get liquor licenses that start at 8 am.

              The important thing to remember is that the more important you are, the greater the chance that you will be flipping pancakes because a) everybody will get a chance to see/talk with you and b) we believe nobody is too good to be put to work. When the national board of our firm came 2 years ago to see why we spent this type of money, they were surprised to be given cowboy hats and shirts (so they wouldn’t stick out) and be put to work but they realized how much fun it is. It is not unusual for politicans to take their turn doing it (and not just for a photo op – people in line expect to be fed). The only exception to this seems to be when the Duke & Duchess came last year – they never went to a public pancake breakfast because local custom would have had them manning the grill but they are royalty and there would have been security issues. So, they only had private breakfasts.

              And, trust me, downtown Calgary smells like freshly grilled pancakes for the 2 weeks of Stampede and it is perfectly acceptable to walk into your office a few minutes late if you say you were at a breakfast, regardless of your position. Even AAs get invites because it is all about networking and you never know who might know when an opportunity might come up.

              1. Chinook*

                BTW, the largest breakfasts in the city happen in a mall parking lot and they use a (purpose built/sanitized) cement mixer to make up the pancke batter. That is how you know we take breakfast seriously here!

                1. Pussyfooter*

                  I never heard of any of this–was confused by earlier cowboy reference posts–just looked it up and I want to go!

            2. Al Lo*

              Pancake breakfasts are part of cowboy culture — meals that could be cooked and eaten over a campfire — and are everywhere in Calgary during Stampede. The city hosts several official ones each day at different parks and malls; and churches, businesses, community centres, volunteer organizations — you name it — will also host breakfasts.

              Many of them are free — they usually entail a couple of pancakes, some bacon or sausage, and coffee and/or juice. You could eat for free all week, if all you wanted to eat were pancakes.

                1. Chinook*

                  That is only because I have had to describe it to way too many coworkers from away. I have it down to a patter now. ;)

          2. 22dncr*

            Sounds like Rodeo time in Houston or Fiesta time in San Antonio. Cowboy breakfast is a must! And Rodeo opening day is always Go Texan so the whole city wears Cowboy gear. In San Antonio they shut down the whole city at noon on the Parade day for Festival of Flowers that opens Fiesta.

    5. Chinook*

      Nope. If you were an animal you would have been saddled and ridden down the street outside my building today. There were even tanks and a space cowboy (Chris Hadfield) with awesome boots. I was one of the few people working downtown because I actually had something to do and my bus arrived before they close down the parade route. On the plus side, so few people were working here and in Houston that I could justify live streaming the parade as I did data entry even if it was just on the other side of the building.

      1. Al Lo*

        We claimed our spot on the sidewalk at around 6:40 this morning. It wasn’t full yet, but even by that time, there weren’t a lot of front-row spots left (but we managed to find space for 5 chairs right on the curb).

        When I was a kid, we never got “sweet cereal,” except on parade day. That day, Mom always bought a box of Froot Loops that we would eat out of the box. My husband’s family had a similar tradition — they always had puffed wheat squares for the parade. Cereal, but still totally unhealthy.

        So, to this day, we still bring Froot Loops and puffed wheat squares with us to the parade — and this year, my sister introduced my 5-month-old nephew to the tradition. He got one Froot Loop to lick (and quite enjoyed it)!

  5. Windchime*

    So Windows 8 has finally pushed me over the edge and I bought a Mac laptop.

    I don’t even know who I am anymore!

      1. Windchime*

        Well, thus far I’m actually enjoying the whole experience, which makes it all the more confusing…….

        1. Felicia*

          I hate Windows 8. I’ve had it for 6 months and I’m still not used to it. I just really miss the start button.

          1. Lucy*

            There’s still a start button! Somewhere… Maybe? I remember that was my husband’s issue with Windows 8 (I’m a mac- he’s a PC) and he happened across it one day. It’s also very likely I just made up that whole thing in my head. :|

            1. Felicia*

              There is a start screen – which is nothing like a start button. I think it only makes sense with a touch screen, which my laptop doesn’t have. You sort of…hover in the bottom left and it brings up this screen that sort of does what the start button did but it’s not the same. I think there’s a way you can bring the start button back, but the default of window’s 8 is no start button and I’ve decided not to bother.

              1. RLS*

                IIRC, all Windows versions allow you to use the “Classic Start Menu” if you go under display settings.

                1. Felicia*

                  Do you know where display settings is in Windows 8? That’s another problem I have with it – so hard to find anything! And it took me forever to figure out how to use the web cam because there’s no “take the picture” button.

                2. Zelos*

                  I believe the Classic Start Menu is the old-school style start menu you’d see on, say, Windows 98 (just a menu with selections) vs. the “newer” start menu you’d see on Windows Vista and Windows 7, which is glossier, looks better, has “Windows 7” on the side, and has a search function directly in the start menu. Unfortunately, I don’t think this thing even exists in Windows 8, since my understanding is that they stripped out all the code required to compile a Start Menu in desktop mode, which is why there’s been mods to add that code back.

          2. Zelos*

            You can add a start button! There are many mods out there who recreates (improves upon?) the start menu and a la Windows 7, despite what Windows 8 would have you believe. I use ClassicShell myself.

            (It took me about 5 minutes on Windows 8 to declare that this Metro UI thing DOES NOT WORK, and I had I not discovered ClassicShell I might have wiped the entire thing and bought a copy of Windows 7 instead, even though it’d cost me money….)

              1. Zelos*

                It’s really only optimized for a touch screen, not a desktop/laptop. I couldn’t believe it took me half an hour and Google searches before I figured out how to close a program, since they did away with the – and X for minimize and close program… When that particular aspect of the Windows UI had been in existence for…oh, 15 years? So frustrating. And my desktop did not have a “Metro UI tutorial” or anything that might have made the transition easier.

                I basically deleted all the apps and only use my computer from the Desktop view, which, when coupled with Classic Shell looks basically like a functional Windows 7. Windows 8 has made improvements on the code I think – certain things do run a tiny bit faster – but I think whatever incremental improvement in response time and resources is overtaken by the huge waste of programming and code it took to program the Metro UI, which I have henceforth ignored completely.

                1. Editor*

                  I was reading another blog on another topic, and people were complaining about a software redesign when someone posted dismissively: End users hate change.

                  Well, duh. When you need to use muscle memory to work efficiently, random software change is totally irritating. With Windows 8, I don’t get the feeling that Microsoft could say, we tested this extensively with people experienced in older systems and these changes are optimal.

                  Instead, the changes are all based on what the software company’s designers and coders project customers want, modified by what they feel like coding, subject to certain changes that can’t be made because of legacy concerns. None of it is based on talking to someone who only has basic Windows skills and just wants something simple — because, you know, it isn’t an improvement if there’s no change.

                  I’m trying to figure out what instrument would be in my front room if the piano was invented during the tech era. “Oh, we placed all of the black keys in groups because then there will be a clear run of white keys for two octaves.” “Push three keys simultaneously to get G flat when playing in the key of C; minimal demand for the G flat feature in C has encouraged us to delete the one-key shortcut.”

                2. fposte*

                  *Thank* you, especially for those first two paragraphs. There’s an economics to a learning curve that can render even a move to a more efficient design overall less efficient. People would be considered stupid if they handled their money that way (“It cost me $15,000 to refinance, but I’ll pay $14,000 less over the life of the mortgage!”), but tech engineers never seem to factor in the sheer efficiency expense of change.

                3. Rana*

                  Oh, gosh yes. Thank you for that! So many of my tasks are muscle memory now, that having to relearn them isn’t simply a matter of retraining the brain, but the fingers as well. That’s no small thing!

              2. Jessa*

                Cannot stand it. I spent years organising my computer to have nearly NOTHING on the desktop and everything organised for easy use on the start menu. I do not want a bunch of giant annoying tiles/buttons in my line of sight.

                IF maybe if I had a touch screen, yeh. But without one? NO.

                1. Chinook*

                  Jessa, I am with you and that is why I won’t be upgrading OSs until I buy a new laptop and I won’t be doing that until I can afford a touchscreen one.

          3. Esra*

            Ugh, Win8 is what’s stopping me from replacing my old laptop. I don’t want a touch screen, and I certainly don’t want an os optimized for touch screens on a regular laptop.

            But I also can’t afford a mac /sad trombone.

            1. Just a Reader*

              I’m not a heavy user…just got an HP Envy laptop from Costco. No touch screen (on purpose).

              So far I am really liking it except for Windows 8.

              1. Esra*

                Unfortunately I’m a pretty heavy user, my home machine is also my freelance machine so it’s loaded up with the adobe suite.

                1. Editor*

                  I just read Adobe is going to rental only — users won’t be able to buy Photoshop anymore. I do freelance work (mostly writing and editing) but I was using my old Photoshop and thinking of upgrading. I have no idea if I will be able to afford the rent.

                2. Esra*

                  The cloud option is (much) cheaper than buying in the short term. The issue with it is that you never truly own your copy like you did with CS6 and everything that came before it. So as soon as you stop your subscription, you have nothing.

                  I’m pretty unimpressed with how they’re rolling it out.

              1. Just a Reader*

                Jamie, I know you’re in IT–what are your thoughts on Dell? My experience as a consumer has been absolutely atrocious (expensive yet non existent service), and I wouldn’t buy Dell again for that reason.

                1. bob*

                  Another IT type here. Take a look at Lenovo also, they’re making pretty good machines these days and their support is ok also.

                  Poke around on Newegg and Microcenter to see what they have.

                2. Jamie*

                  Love NewEgg. Also can get some good deals on refurbished (and new) CompUSA/Tiger Direct – with good warranties.

                3. Jamie*

                  I like Dells personally…because I like the hardware. Not thrilled with their customer service so on the rare occasion I need to call them I need a tranquilizer first. I always give it the old college try and I always end up escalating to our rep and thinking about pulling our business.

                  They aren’t bad on pricing for the builds I need, which is why I stay.

              2. Esra*

                I’m using an oldish vostro at home right now that I like, but I went on their site recently and it looked like it was a going-out-of-business sale.

                I haven’t seen their outlet though, I will have to check it out! Thanks for the tip.

                1. Just a Reader*

                  I have a Lenovo for work and it’s pretty good, but the programs crash relatively often and it weighs 600 pounds :(

              3. Chinook*

                Is it bad that I am still usign Vista (I had no choice when I my last computer died – it was during that 6 month period where MS refused to let anyone load any other type of OS on their computers).

            2. Windchime*

              I didn’t want to spring the money for a Mac but the alternative was either buy a Windows 7 machine,sight unseen from online, or try something new. And I have to say it’s a pretty nice thing so far. I have to get used to doing a few things in a new way, but it’s not a whole new universe like the stupid Metro interface on Windows 8. I don’t know what the heck the design team was thinking.

          4. Sydney*

            I use Start8 and Modern Mix to beef up my Windows 8. Start8 gives you a start button and traditional start menu. I actually like it better than the old one because you can customize it sooo much. Modern Mix fixes the whole fullscreen mode for Windows 8 apps.

            I actually love Windows 8. It’s fast, I like the new design (I’ve always liked flat ui) and with those two tweaks, it’s better than Windows 7.

            You can also check out Lifehacker’s Windows 8 posts for more ways to customize the new OS.

          5. danr*

            I figure that Win 9 will be a much better experience. Win 8 sounds like Vista all over again. (deja vu anyone?)

            1. Chinook*

              I actually have no issues with Vista once I upgraded the memory. I was in IT when it came out (sent two programmers to MS’s campus to train on it) and the issue was that they were having developers work on min. specs of 1 GB (??) memory when it really needed twice as much to work well. We fought that issue in-house because they never could get a program to work well with Vista with the min. specs but it worked well once they allowed for more memory.

          6. tcookson*

            No start button!!? I’m not on Windows 8 yet, and now that I’ve heard that I’ll have to be dragged, kicking and screaming.

    1. Gene*

      Welcome to the light side! Where the stuff just works. Where you don’t have to get new hardware every 18 months just to run current software (on my 4th CPU since I went Mac in 1987). Where you can still run the UNIX command line if that floats your boat.

      1. Anonymous*

        Except for “Save as”. Gave up trying to figure out “Duplicate”. Any software I couldn’t hack to restore normal behavior, I ditched before I lost something more critical than some photo edits. Been using Macs since 1983. Some things are just wired into the brainstem.

        +1 for the command line. Immune to the latest fads against usability.

    2. Flynn*

      I just installed Linux (one of the easy to use Ubuntu Mint versions) on my new Windows 8 laptop. I played around a bit, cause I figured I should at least learn how to use it and to understand the complaints :D But I just ragequit in the end.

      It’s been fine. Easy. It’s nice, basic, intuitive and lets me mess around if I choose to. (I should clarify that I still have an XP computer as my main one, which runs all the important art and game programs!)

      1. FRRibs*

        XP is still my favorite OS.

        Those who miss their start button in Win8, I’ve heard they are bringing it back in the next big update. Also, if you don’t like an OS, don’t let that determine if you buy a new PC. Buy an OS, wipe the HD, and do a clean install of what you want (back up anything you want first of course).

      1. Chinook*

        I was jsut the opposite when I had to use Apples at work – I loathed them and felt giddy when I got home and could use my PC laptop and Blackberry devices. I think have the battle is having to be bilingual (PC vs. Mac). My fingers just couldn’t remeber which system we were using.

        1. Natalie*

          Yep, I use a Mac at home and Windows 7 at work and I’m pretty comfortable with both of them, with 2 exceptions. On my work computer I installed Chrome and use Internet Explorer only when forced to. Worst. browser. ever. And on my home computer, I’m not very good in Excel. Apparently the 2004 MS Office for Mac is just too different from the Windows set up.

        2. Rana*

          Yeah, I do fine once I’m inside a program, regardless of whether it’s Mac or PC. It’s the finder interface on PCs that drives me nuts – I’m very visual, and the layout is very counter-intuitive for me, somehow. I can make it work, but I always feel like I’m reinventing the wheel each time.

  6. AP*

    So I’m applying to this job I saw in the paper, and it asks for a resume and expected salary to be sent to their email. I’m mighty conflicted as to the expected salary portion – they don’t specify what the job duties really entail (it appears to be an instructor position at the special needs centre), and is marketed towards recent psych undergrads (of which I am a minor). There’s no mention of experience or whether it’s FT/PT either.

    What the heck do I put down? A salary too high, too low are both dangers when I don’t know the field.

    1. Lucy*

      Since it’s not an automated system, I would probably just say “I’m open to discussion regarding expected salary for this position once I learn more about the job description.” If you’re afraid that would disqualify you, I would put somewhat of a larger range (as long as you really would accept the lower range if it turns out to be a position of less responsibility) like “Without knowing details about the position, I can estimate my expectations for a full time position to range between $x-$x.”

    2. danr*

      Take a look at school district salaries in your area. If they break out special ed, that will be your guideline.

  7. Steve*

    I’ve been with my current company for a little over 21 years. During that time, we have been through 4 separate owners; family owned, giant conglomerate owned, private equity firm owned, and back to privately owned. Each new ownership brought changes such as new operating procedures, new ERP systems, and new upper management. I have grown through several positions and been a key SME for each of the transitions. I really feel like I’ve gained the same experience as someone who has worked for four companies even though my job history is all under one company name.

    This last buyout has been plagued with layoffs and cuts, so it’s time for me to more actively search for something new. How do I best represent the varied business environments I’ve experienced even though my résumé is going to list only one company?

    1. Annie*

      I create a sub-section under the company for the different positions I’ve held and the years that I was in that position while at the company. That will show that you did a variety of duties though you worked for the same company.

      1. AJ-in-Memphis*

        +1, it also shows that you’ve adapted well to change and are reliable (i.e, let’s promote this great employee! – several times)

        1. Steve*

          Thanks for the advice. I’ve actually heard a few times that they were concerned I had been in one place too long and they were afraid I was too set in my ways. I’m just hoping for an up front way to dissuade those fears so that I don’t have the situation that someone won’t even consider me for that same thought.

          1. Editor*

            Why not mention all the changes in ownership in the cover letter. “I’ve had to be flexible and adapt to change in dealing with four different owners changes at Oldco, which was a private company that was acquired by Conglomerate, then sold to a private equity firm. The latest sale took the company back to private ownership.”

          2. Pussyfooter*

            I’m not an executive, so I don’t know the appropriate phrasing, but how about a line or two in a cover letter about how you’ve enjoyed/succeeded at approaching the business with new insights as the entire management style was reinvented through several ownerships? …in addition to demonstrating growth and responsibility changes through several positions in the body of the resume?

  8. Making Plans*

    I’ve got a few networking ins to a potential management position opening at a new company in town. Before the downturn, I was a supervisor and making progress to management but in the scaling down lost all my direct reports but am still a team lead. How do I approach the interview process in the best possible way? Are there any ways to make my pitch compelling? Should I be willing to take a low offer contingent on 3 months of performance before negotiating any salary increase?

    1. Just a Reader*

      I wouldn’t lowball yourself. Just highlight your management experience, function, size of your team, etc. If you lost your team in layoffs that shouldn’t undercut your experience–it’s not like you were demoted due to performance or poor management skills.

    2. fposte*

      What Just a Reader said, and I would certainly advise against the three-months-contingent thing. Is that something you were thinking of suggesting or is that something prospective employers dangle in your industry? It sounds doom-laden to me, because you have no leverage for the actual salary you want at that point.

      I think you make your pitch based on your supervisor performance and treat this as the logical next step; it makes sense that you’d be moving on from an organization that was hit so hard that your growth opportunities stopped.

    3. Making Plans*

      The 3 months thing is just something I thought would make it compelling. I’d really like to move on and up. If I make an equivalent or more (as long as it has potential/promise for more), I’d be happy. The work is what would make me happier at this point as I feel I’m a better fit for leadership. It would also be a good challenge and stretch me to grow in an area that’s only a couple years rusty at this point which I’ve tried to keep sharp by reading books, blogs, etc.

      1. plain jane*

        I have in the past done the 3 month contingent thing with a person who was switching to a completely new role/path (same industry, but very different responsibilities), and was fairly junior.

        She wanted the salary that someone who had been in the industry doing the new role the whole time would get. We told her no (because she had no history of success in the new role), but that we would revisit in 3 months for up to a 12% raise. After the 3 months we gave her 10% (and surprised her with ~10% again at 9 months).

        So I think you should go in with the number/range you think is fair given the role & your experience, and if they baulk, then suggest the 3 months option. But don’t go in weak.

        1. fposte*

          I think it’s a little different if the employer volunteers the option (though I’m still not crazy about it), but I still think it’s a questionable idea for the prospective employee to suggest. Maybe if you knew the company and its practices well enough to know it had done it successfully before, but even then…I’d only do it if I were genuinely prepared to walk after three months, and I wouldn’t want to hire an employee who was thinking about whether or not they’d walk after three months.

      2. Just a Reader*

        You definitely want to get the job at market value, and due to your experience, not because you’re a bargain. That can impact your earning potential for the rest of your career.

    4. Making Plans*

      Summary so far: don’t run in with the contingency plan, be confident in an industry average for that position but open to negotiation. Do a good job of explaining experience, function, size of team, etc.

      Any other tips or differentiators? What do interviewers want to see from someone in my current position as a not-yet-a-manager?

  9. Windchime*

    I’m heading to Washington, DC tomorrow for business. My classes don’t start until Tuesday, so I will have all day Sunday and Monday to see some sights. What are the places that I should be sure to visit? I’ve never been but I have limited time, so recommendations are appreciated!

      1. Windchime*

        I did book the capital tour, thanks! And I have a couple of the Smithsonian sites on my list, as well as the National Cathedral (not sure I can make that). And I want to go to the monuments, of course.

        Side note: I am from a part of the northwest that gets very, very hot. With almost no humidity. So the humidity here in DC is kind of sapping my energy!

    1. A fan in Fairfax*

      Newseum, national archives, and library of congress. Not to mention any of the smithsonian museums.

    2. DEJ*

      Walk the national mall. It’s amazing and a huge chunk of the monuments are there.

      Arlington National Cemetery is beautiful, and very peaceful.

      The Smithsonian is enormous, but I recommend you do a little research and pick one that interests you. The Air and Space museum is always popular, as well as the National Museum of Natural History.

      1. RLS*

        This. I did all of DC in a day. On foot. Including the White House. In 105 degrees.

        My only disappointment was that the reflecting pool was under major repair :(

    3. Another Reader*

      If you’ve never been to Washington, you may want to see some of the famous monuments (Capitol Building, White House, Lincoln Memorial, World War II and Vietnam War memorials, etc.) or museums (Smithsonian Air and Space, Natural History Museum, National Art Gallery, etc) My favorite of the Smithsonians is the History/Technology which is the one with Julia Child’s kitchen, the first ladies gowns, musical instruments and a lot of other fascinating exhibits. If Congress is in session, your congressman’s office can give you tickets to sit in on the session in the visitor’s gallery for a limited time –when I did this, not much was said by the Congressmen but it was neat to be sitting watching them. Or what about a play or concert at the Kennedy Center (details would be on their website)? It might be a little hot for the zoo…

      1. Erin*

        The Kennedy Center is beautiful! It has a free concert at 6 p.m. every day (also broadcast live, I believe). If you go, be sure to take the elevators up to the terrace level. PHENOMENAL 360-degree view of the entire city of DC up there.

    4. Anon*

      If you like something a little offbeat… Faith Ringgold exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Ethiopian food at Zenebach Injera (near the Howard Theater), and Busboys and Poets. What about a jazz show in the U district?

      1. Windchime*

        I’m afraid the Holocaust Museum sounds too heartbreaking for me. Important, to be sure….but heartbreaking.

    5. RK*

      If you’re from a northern climate, make sure to stop at a farmer’s market and buy yourself some peaches. Fresh peaches are just about a billion times better than anything in a northern grocery store. Eastern Market (which is a neat experience on it’s own) is open Sat. and Sunday, so that’s probably the easiest place to get some. There are good lunch and breakfast options there too – if you don’t mind waiting in line, there’s an old fashioned lunch counter there called “Market Lunch” that serves a great and well-priced crab cake.

      1. RK*

        Oh, and do the monuments at night – they’re all lit up really beautifully, and it’s a bit cooler than doing them in the heat of the day.

        1. Lizabeth*

          I second this! Start with the Lincoln Memorial, making sure to look across the Potomac River to see the Lee Mansion in Arlington Cemetery and the flame at JFK’s gravesite. Then over to the Jefferson Memorial AND drive up to look at the Mall and Capital lit up.

          National Portrait Gallery (in Chinatown) to take it the President’s portraits and the American Art museum is just next door along with the Old Patent office.

    6. WDG*

      Eastern Market is a great place to stop for shopping. You can find jewelry, crafts, soaps, and an amazing array of foods. There is also a great Salvadoran place called Tortilla Cafe, which has delicious papusas for dirt cheap. Easily my favorite area in DC.

    7. Victoria Nonprofit*

      Eat at Meskerem (Ethiopian) in Adams Morgan. Literally my favorite restaurant in the world.

      Union Market is a fun place to stop, right next to Galludet. Like a mini version of Reading Terminal Market in Philly. Indoor farmers’/craft/gourmet food market. Eat the ice cream. Amazing.

      Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle – best bookstore ever.

      For tourist things: Newseum is terrific (and expensive). The Zoo is free and delightful (and hilly – be prepared to get a bit of a workout). I always love the Smithsonian Museum of American History, but other folks go crazy for Natural History.

      Fun. I love DC. Except that it’s likely to be 20 bazillion degrees and 90 gagillion percent humidity.

      1. evilintraining*

        I highly recommend the crime museum! The Holocaust Museum is very depressing, but also an experience I think everyone should have.

      2. urban adventurer*

        I second Kramerbooks–it’s a bookstore/cafe/bar/restaurant/event space. Their books are amazing. I don’t even buy books anymore, but I can’t help myself at Kramerbooks!

    8. SarasWhimsy*

      I “lived” in DC for 6 months to do a project and LOVED it! So much is expensive, but so much is free too.

      If you can afford the $200 hold on your credit card – rent a bike – you’ll see an awful lot more than you will on foot.

      Take the segway tour!

      National Mall – at night.

      Holocaust Museum – it’s truly amazing and remarkable.

      Busboys and Poets – great employees and great food fairly cheap.

      Take the metro to Metro Center and just walk around – always a lot going on there.

      Take the metro to Dupont Circle and just walk around – a LOT of history there.

      Eastern Market is almost a must.

      I think all but the Newseum are free museums. If I were you, I’d find one I want to spend approx 3 hours at, and one I want to spend maybe an hour or two at.

      Try the food trucks – the food is amazing!

      Have fun!

    9. LJ*

      I visited DC for the first time this past January with a group of my students. Our take: the Holocaust Museum and Arlington were the most moving, the Mall and National Cathedral the most beautiful, and the Smithsonian Air & Space museum was the coolest because we got to see the Shuttle Discovery up close. (There are two Air&Space museums, one on the Mall and a larger one over by the airport; the larger one has the Shuttle. And it is amazing if you are at all a space/flight fan. You are literally feet away from the Shuttle.) The Capitol tour was interesting–it is beautiful and ridiculously oppulent inside–but if you wanted to save time, I also think you could skip the tour itself and still get some of the awe just by walking around outside and inside the non-tour parts.

      We also enjoyed Mount Vernon, much more than we expected to. It is kind of touristy, but really fun and in a beautiful setting, but it’ll take more time — probably half a day. (Pro tip: if you buy a replica key to the Bastille in the Mount Vernon gift shop, don’t try to take it home in your carry-on unless you specifically want to annoy TSA. Also, the joys of traveling with teenagers are myriad.)

      We crammed a ton of stuff into our 5-day trip, including a half-day excursion to Gettysburg and 8+ hours of the Inauguration. You’ll be able to see a lot in two days, especially if you’re up and out early. Our tour guide also said there was a tour service that basically ran shuttles between all the major tour stops and you just got on and off as you wanted. I asked him about returning to DC with my niece and he recommended this service. I can’t remember the name off hand, but I’m pretty sure it was a red bus. They were nearly everywhere we stopped around DC. If you’re trying to fit in as much as possible, something like that might make for the quickest transitions between sites.

      Have a great trip! DC is awesome, particularly at a patriotic time of year.

    10. EngineerGirl*

      Definitely the Smithsonian. It is truly amazing. I’m biased toward the Air and Space Museum.

      I liked the Spy Museum. It is a lot of fun. It is run by Tony Mendez – the “for real” spy from Argo. (and if you haven’t seen the movie you should).

      The memorials are important – especially the memorials. You need to know the extremely high cost of our freedoms.

      The Mint is a lot of fun. And the FBI.

      If you are open to a field trip then I can strongly recommend going to Mt Vernon – George Washington’s home. We spent the whole day there last time and were happy for it. The US was truly blessed that such an amazing man became our first president. He set the precedents that we live with today.

      You could spend years and not see it all.

      1. EngineerGirl*

        Oh yes. Download the “MetrO” app on your phone. It’s free. Then download Washington DC via Wi-Fi etc. You’ll have a schedule for all the busses, Metro, etc. on your phone, and it works off-line.

      2. Chinook*

        About “Argo” – remember never to get your history from Hollywood and google “Ken Taylor” about the real story about what the Canadians really did. There was a movie in the 80’s that included more information from the hostages.

  10. Anonymous*

    There were some Excel fans on one of the answer threads earlier in the month so I’ll lead with – what’s your favorite Excel tip or trick?

    I like Ctrl+: which puts today’s date in a cell, Ctrl+’ which copies the cell above the one you’re in and Ctrl+d which copies the data from the cells above a range of highlighted cells.

        1. the gold digger*

          I trust excel to do my math, so when my boss asked me the other day why I had shown a variance of 26% when 2013 was $221K and 2012 was $176K, I felt the blood drain from my face. Had I missed something in my endless checking of the report that I HATE DOING WITH THE HEAT OF A THOUSAND WHITE SUNS? Had I written a formula incorrectly? Was a simple math error going to end my career?

          I looked at the numbers, looked at him, asked him what exactly he meant. Maybe he wanted to know why 2013 was higher? Sales in China up? In Argentina?

          Nope. He repeated the question – how could it be 26%?

          That was when I did some rough math in my head and said, “Because 221 divided by 176 is about 26%.”

          1. Chinook*

            “That was when I did some rough math in my head and said, “Because 221 divided by 176 is about 26%.””

            I laughed at that. What was his response?

            1. the gold digger*

              He just said, “Oh.” Then moved on to the next thing he thought I had done wrong. (“Too many footnotes!” Why was I explaining all this stuff in the footnotes? BECAUSE LAST MONTH, I DIDN’T FOOTNOTE AND I GOT SKEWERED!)

      1. Chinook*

        I am actually using Excel for data entry with hopes to eventually upload the information into a program down the road (I recently learned that our IT dept. will create web based programs for us – that was a dangerous piece of information to share with me *evil grin*).

        I just created a matrix to track which training qualifications each of our contractor positions and duties need. The only numbers involved are how often each training needs to be redone. And, because I am the one both creating and managing this database, I am setting it up so it can be filtered and use pivot tables.

    1. SarasWhimsy*

      Control, Shift, Home
      Control, Shift, and any arrow!

      Just recently found those and I love them!

      And the countifs formula :)

    2. Rebecca*

      Oh, I use ctrl+’ all the time, such a time saver!

      Not sure if it’s considered a tip or trick, but once I learned v-lookup and pivot tables I felt like the smartest person in the world. I use them so much when combining data from multiple reports.

    3. Kelly O*


      I work with UPC numbers, and some people send me lists with hyphens or spaces. I can just substitute with a “” and make my life a LOT easier. (just remember to copy/paste special/values!)

    4. plain jane*

      I love F2, which lets me get into and revise the contents of a cell without overwriting or needing to double click.

      1. fposte*

        I am *so* bookmarking this thread. I love Excel but I know I do everything the long, long way.

      2. Chinook*

        After you F2, you can then Alt+Enter to add a second line (like regular enter in Word) to the cell. This works great when writing actual words in it.

        Through trial and error, because I can never remember the combination, Shift+Enter brings you to the line above and Ctrl+Enter does nothign noticeable.

    5. LCL*

      Click on the ‘master cell’ (the one in the upper left corner without any # or letter), click on format, then adjust the whole spreadsheet font size/typeface/colors so you can actually read what people send you.

      Click on the master cell, click on edit, replace, fill in the find and replace window and click replace all. Be careful, this can get you in a lot of trouble.

      Copy, paste special, values, will paste in just the numbers and not change any equations.

      Copy, paste special, transpose, changes vertical to horizontal or vice versa. Not that useful to me but very entertaining.

      1. Aimee*

        The newest version of excel doesn’t even make you choose ‘paste special.’ If you right click to paste, it gives you a whole list of paste options to choose from right there, really easily! (I used to have to use paste values a lot. So of course they made it easier right after I stopped doing that report).

    6. Chris*

      Don’t use Excel too much, but I like typing “why” in MATLAB. Some of the responses are great.

    7. Chinook*

      Don’t forget the usual Ctrl+C (copy), Ctrl+V (paste) and Ctrl+Z (for undo). I was surprised that my coworker who has mad pivot table skills didn’t know those three.

      Also, format painter (that little paintbrush tool) works just as well in Excel as it does in Word.

      1. Chinook*

        Also, you can highlight columns and/or rows and then right click and hide them. This is useful to know if because if a column of informatin is missing, you chould check to see if there are missing column letters. If so, highlight to the left and right of the missing letters, right click and “unhide” (not that I have accidentally caused heart attacks in my coworkers by doing that).

        Speaking of hiding info from coworkers, under the Data tab in 2010 onward (it is probably there in earlier versions), you can filter anything with a column header. If the “filter” button is highlighted, it is possible information is missing, so select “clear” and that will clear all the filters.

        Tip: if you know you are going to use the filter function, try to keep the information database like with all the info for one “entry” on the same row. When stuff is over two or three rows, it is easier to miss something when it is filtered. This also makes it easier to use pivot tables (which is is sort of like a super duper filtration system)

    8. Aimee*

      I used to work with spreadsheets that had hundreds of thousands of rows of data (spreadsheets that would take my computer hours to process the copy and paste of a formula down an entire column). Learning the trick of double clicking in the bottom right corner of a cell to have it copy a formula down an entire column saved me a ton of scrolling time!

    9. Pam*

      I like to create custom names for cells or ranges. You can do this from the name manager, or by just changing the box in the upper right from the cell number, ex. C23 to any text, ex. TotalCost.

      If you use very complex formulas or macros, this can be a lifesaver. You’re not constantly dancing around your spreadsheet looking for V234 and what the sum of A24 and B27 actually is. Instead of =V234+sum(A24, B27) you can say =TotalCost + sum(Tax+Tip).

    10. Lissajous*

      In case anyone’s still on this thread:

      Ctrl+` (the accent/tilde key) changes the display from showing all the results of the equations to showing the actual equations you’ve typed in – e.g., =SUM(A3:A10), rather than 40. Same combo to switch back to standard display again.

      Very useful when you need to check that all the cells you think have formulae in do, in fact, have formulae (sometimes weird things happen when pasting from one document to another – evil capex, I’m looking at you), and also for checking quickly that they’re adding up the right cells, say.

      So if I want to check column AX is the sum of M, Z and AN for every row, switch to show formulae and do a rapid scroll down – it’s easy to spot anything that looks different to all the rest.

      Not a shortcut, but a layout thing – for design calculations I always have a row/column called Symbol, before or after units, that shows the standard symbol used for that variable, and the equation used to derive that variable in notation as close to standard mathematical as I can get. Often I’ll make this column a medium grey, so it’s easy to ignore most of the time, but it makes it much easier for someone looking at the sheet for the first time to understand what’s going on.

  11. CatK*

    I’m headed to Las Vegas next week for a work conference. It’s one of the biggest conferences in my field, and I want to do some serious networking, because I’m looking for another job. However I don’t know how to approach people. I’m definitely low on the totem pole around here, so I don’t feel like I have a lot to offer to a stranger. I have a good reputation at my current workplace, but I’m definitely not known outside of it. I would really appreciate some suggestions on how to talk to people, and also how to follow up with them!

    P.S. I get rather anxious in these types of situations, especially if I feel like I’m imposing on someone by asking them for something (to stay in contact or learn about jobs at their company), when I don’t really have anything to offer. Thanks!

    1. Making Plans*

      Connect with them – try to do so in a personal and memorable way. Listen to them intently and find something to agree with or show great interest in. Find out if you’d like to work at their company (doing what they do). Lastly, say their name when you bid them farewell. Make sure your nametag is very visible because they will probably need to reference that to equally say goodbye.

    2. Just a Reader*

      The great thing about shows in Vegas are all the dinners, receptions, etc. People are typically pretty loose and friendly. Just go to as many events as you can, grab a drink and start chatting. I’ve found that people are rarely in hyper professional work mode because, well, it’s vegas. Take advantage of the relaxed atmosphere and let the conversation flow naturally.

    3. RLS*

      Agree with Just a Reader. Last year I went to my first huge expo/conference…and I’m pretty proud of myself for the networking I accomplished, because it was mostly just to go and get my first one under my belt…and it turned out to be my favorite week of the year (Even better than graduation!)

      There are likely to be “socials” and “networking events” scheduled in–these are not as formal as you’d think. Most of the more experienced professionals will be able to spot you out anyway. I was fortunate enough that a few of them made it a point to make me feel welcome, and the week went much better after that.

      Just bring a good attitude and lots of business cards! :)

    4. Bonnie*

      The advantage of a conference is that you all have something in common you are all in a new place but for the same reason. So getting started talking to people can be easy just ask them about the venue or the conference content. Ask what they have seen or done that they have like thus far or ask about their opinion on some aspect of the keynote address. From there it is easy to ask them about their job, company, background, industry issues, etc. Once you are having a real conversation it is easier to say you would like to circulate more but you are very interested in their opinions on the issue and could you contact them after the conference you can either ask for a business card and offer one in return or look them up in the conference attendee list. (Be sure to note on the back of the business card some points of the discussion). Once you get home you have the contact information and start any communication by referencing the contact and contents of the discussion.

      1. Rana*

        That’s a really good point. In other situations, I can be rather hesitant to talk to people, but at conferences, pretty much everyone’s in the same boat, so I figure I’m being nice (rather than annoying) when I chat people up. :)

    5. A Teacher*

      I was in Vegas a few weeks ago for a convention :) I hope you have a fantastic time. I second the idea posted about business cards and if there are times for discussion after presenters are done be willing to ask a question or even a comment. I ended up doing that at one of the presentations and it was a neat way to meet a few people.

      Make sure you try to make it to Freemont St (the old strip) if you get a chance–we took the bus from near Mandalay out there and back. Bellagio fountains are cool at night and the Venetian has some great free entertainment most evenings. Have fun!

      1. CatK*

        Good to know! I’m staying at the Venetian so I will check out what’s around there. I don’t really want to go outside if I can avoid it…temps are supposed to be near 110. :)

    6. Anonymous*

      I don’t know what your field is, but can you start following some of the people you’d like to network with on Twitter? That can be a great way of breaking the ice before you even meet, if you have had a few virtual conversations about your field beforehand.

    7. Schuyler Pierson*

      Um… so am I. Going to one of the largest conferences in my field, that is, in Las Vegas. I actually was going to post with a similar question to yours (in addition for tips for what’s good to see and do in Vegas). I had this eerie feeling that maybe we were going to the same conference, but I work in higher education and I thought I must be wrong when you said “company”…

      I’m hoping to do some networking too, both for eventual advancement and because I’d like to move to Texas, California or home to the Pacific Northwest within a few years. When I went to a state conference last year (the first time I’d attended a conference for work), I was really nervous so made sure to have a question or two that I could ask people and not feel so awkward (I asked people if they had ever been on a committee with the association, and if so, what had been their favorite one, so that I could get a bit more information on how to be involved while getting to know people). It honestly felt a bit odd for me to ask people if I could sit at their table, but even feeling more comfortable doing that now has given me a smidgen more confidence. I think I’ll find this harder because I’m not actively looking for a job right now.

      I feel like a geek but it will be so weird to know one of my fellow AAM’ers is at a conference in the same city at the same time… small world and all, I guess. Best of luck and I hope you make some great connections!

  12. Chriama*

    I’ve been waiting for this! I have 2 questions:
    1) I’m looking for a decent web host for my very first website. It should be linux-based, use FTP, allow me to register at least 5 subdomains and have 2 mySQL databases, and support php 5 and wordpress. Good technical support services are a must. Any recommendations?
    2) Is there any reason I shouldn’t use goDaddy as my domain registrar? I’m also looking at 1&1 (the Canadian site) because they do private registration for free. Does anyone have experience with them?

    1. Making Plans*

      1) I’ve used Dryline Hosting before and have had good success with them which I think supports all your requirements.
      2) GoDaddy is nice but then you have to do a lot of management of the domain stuff through them. If you change hosts, you may forget about that and then have to go update it. Having a place that can do the domain registration/management for you is convenient.

    2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      I started at GoDaddy but switched when I decided I couldn’t stand their sexy (and sexist) advertising. Switched to Much happier.

    3. Esra*

      I use 1&1 for hosting and have been very pleased. Their customer service is very responsive and I’m happy with how easy it is to manage multiple domains for my clients who are less web savvy.

      I find goDaddy to be a bit sketch. They seem spendy and have a bad reputation as far as support.

      1. Chriama*

        I wanted to use 1&1 for hosting, but since they do the private domain registration I decided to register through them. Do you think I’m being unnecessarily cautious for not wanting to register and host through the same provider?

        1. Esra*

          I think it’s a bit over-cautious. I use them for both and haven’t had any issues, nor have the other programmers and designers I know who also use 1&1 for both.

      1. EA*

        I’ve used for my domain registrations for years, with no issues whatsoever. (And when they started a cell phone company, Ting, I switched from my previous carrier)

    4. Ash*

      I have only heard good things about DreamHost.

      And never use GoDaddy, they’re terrible.

      1. Editor*

        It seems like when links aren’t working at some blogs I favor, the links are all to GoDaddy sites. Plus, their advertising puts me off.

        One of my friends uses pair, in Pittsburgh, and is very pleased with them.

    5. Bee*

      My biggest complaint with GoDaddy is that their website can be quite difficult to navigate. They like to route you through a bajillion advertisements for unnecessary services before you actually get where you’re going. I think I heard that they revamped, so it might be better now, but a year and a half ago I was ready to pull out my hair because I couldn’t find ANYTHING on the website.

      1. CatK*

        It’s not. I just canceled my registration today. I had a hard time finding what I needed.

    6. Flynn*

      I’ve had no issues with GoDaddy. The advice I’ve read is not to host AND register with them, just pick one, as they hate letting you switch away later and it’s difficult.

      Just registering shouldn’t be much of an issue (though people have reported getting annoyed by the ads/coupons – I’ve never got these, but it might be because I’m on an autorenewal anyway).

    7. Chriama*

      Thanks for all the replies. I think I’m going to register with 1&1 and try them out for 3 months.

    8. Sydney*

      1. I like DreamHost and E-Starr. DreamHost is one of the most popular web hosts, and they offer unlimited pretty much everything for pretty cheap. Lifehacker runs specials all the time where your first year with Dreamhost is only $20. E-Starr is owned by a friend of mine and I’ve been using her hosting service for the last 10 years. Never any downtime and her servers are fast.

      2. I recommend registering your domains with the same company you get hosting with. It just makes it easier. GoDaddy is all right for a registrar (for a regular user like you, they’re pretty much all the same except for price). However, I’ve noticed that GoDaddy’s DNS takes longer to propagate than other registrars.


    9. CatK*

      With GoDaddy, keep in mind that you can’t ever delete your account. Like truly delete it. I’ve been getting rid of a bunch of accounts recently for things I don’t need, and I registered a domain name a while ago with the intention of making a website. That never happened, so I canceled the registration today. I wanted to delete my GoDaddy account, because I just don’t see myself ever using them again. I hunted for instructions, and talked to a customer service rep, and apparently this is not possible. According to their terms of service, your account must remain “living” with them, even if you have deactivated all registrations and do not use any of their services.

    10. Nicole*

      I use Dreamhost and it has everything you’re looking for and more for a very decent monthly price (which is cheaper if you elect to pay a year or two in advance).

    11. Becca*

      I had a TON of problems with Dreamhost when I had them. Their uptime wasn’t that great, and they have some weird issue with their php mail(); command too. I don’t remember what it was, but it was something I was using a lot and got ticked off when it didn’t work.

      That said, I’ve been using bluehost for my latest website. I like them a lot. They had a DDS attack a few weeks ago, and their twitter support social media person was responding to everyone and explaining the situation and made sure not to miss people. It was pretty impressive.

      They’re pretty cheap too.

  13. ThursdaysGeek*

    There has been discussion in the past about buying supplies for the company you work for. Other than teachers, who have to bring all sorts of things for their kids, what have you donated to your company?

    1. Jamie*

      Absolutely nothing. I have a pad of HK post-its, but not donated and I’ll take them with me if I quit in a fit of rage.

      My employer believes in making sure they supply us with what we need to do our jobs. I really hope that catches on, it’s a nice way to work.

    2. A Teacher*

      Well, when I worked as an athletic trainer for a PT company, I had to supply my own medical bag, any non-disposable items (scissors, stethoscope, drill (to remove football helmets), ace wraps, exercise equipment for my athletic training room so exercise balls, therabands, body blade, weights, etc…) and some disposables like vaseline, cotton balls, saline solution, etc…it got really expensive.

        1. A Teacher*

          employee–FT. Even now, the company I work for classifies me as a PRN (as needed in non-medical speak) because in the medical field the need to carry liability insurance is a necessity and not a wish so in athletic training you are typically hired as an employee and not a contractor.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      And to start it off, this wasn’t something bought, but it was still something donated. I worked for a company that did radiological testing for a local nuclear site. They would analyze urine to make sure people were not being exposed to radiation. For a time, many years ago, the employees were encouraged to donate blanks for the QC. We could donate urine so they could compare it to those who worked on the site.

      1. De Minimis*

        Wow. Just wow….I’ve heard of a company wanting blood and sweat, but not urine!

      2. CathVWXYNot?*

        I’ve literally given blood.

        I used to work for a biotech company that sold kits to researchers that would separate out different kinds of cells from blood and other tissues, and they developed and QCed the products partly by using employees’ blood. They did compensate us (I think it was about $10 per small tube) and they always had fun band aids (the Star Wars ones were particularly in demand). We used to joke that it was also a free monthly leukemia check (it wasn’t really, but it was understood that they would have flagged any weird results, broken the anonymity code, and suggested you see a doctor…)

        Oh and I also donated blood to a research project in my next job – they wanted normal controls for a study on (I think) hormone levels in ovarian cancer survivors. I can’t donate blood for transfusion purposes in Canada (anyone who’s lived in the UK is ineligible because of the CJD threat), so I’m more than happy to help out in other ways!

        1. Frenchie*

          I cannot donate blood for transfusion either in Canada (CJD) and found out that I needed to wait for 28 days after each trip in Canada to donate blood in my own country (West Nile).

          Donating blood is getting hard !

          1. Anonymous*

            Thank you for donating blood! It makes a world of difference in people’s lives.

      3. Nerdling*

        Our lab recently sent around an email asking for sperm samples for trainees to practice on.

    4. Jen*

      I bring my own pens. I like these Precise rolling ball pens in black and while they’d order them for me, other people take them and they run out and I have to wait for the order to come in again so I’d rather just buy my own pens and keep them in my desk drawer so I always have one when I need it.

      I also brought in computer speakers because my computer didn’t have decent speakers and I found out that to get some through my job would involve a number of approvals and requests and it would probably take a month or two. I had some at home that we weren’t using so I brought them in and hooked them up myself.

      1. Jen in RO*

        I brought my own headphones, because the company (probably) doesn’t provide them and I didn’t feel like waiting 2 months until I possibly maybe got an approval. (I’m definitely taking them with me when I quit!)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Me too–and that’s it. I have what I need from my company. Extras in my cube–noms, a poster, etc.–are mine.

          At Oldjob, I regularly bought generic mustard and ketchup for the break room, mostly so I could use it, but I let everyone have it.

        2. hamster*

          At my first job, I was assigned a super – old slow moving computer. I brought from home extra 128mb of Ram memory ( it was old, DDR or DDR2 from my old computer) . After a while i got a new computer, and someone else got my old one, and when i left i did not take those mb back :) ! At another job i left behind a small polka dot bowl i used for breakfast ( i didn’t want to associate anything with that time in my life) . Lastly i brought my own fancy mouse but i took it with me when i left :) . I would have taken my pretty cup with me but i smashed it on the last day by mistake :(

        3. Jessa*

          I always bring my adaptive headset to any job that I can use it on. That gets to be kind of normal if you’ve been in the answering stuff business for very long, you end up having your own sooner or later.

      2. Nichole*

        I bring my own pens too, but mostly because I’m fussy about them. I don’t think it’s fair that I have to use substandard pens, but it’s not fair to ask the whole office to bend to my (somewhat pricy) whims, either. So I buy my own and guard them like a junkyard dog. Luckily my boss bought pens I like in the last supply order, so I’m pretty happy with the current pen situation.

        1. Jessa*

          Oh yes, and trying to keep people from walking off with your pens…that’s a fun game.

    5. De Minimis*

      My soul and my will to live…..;-) Okay, not really. I enjoy my current job.

      We take turns buying the coffee [Folger’s type coffee, nothing fancy] so I guess I’ve donated that.

      1. karenb*

        Wireless keyboard and mouse… can’t live without them now and yes, they go with my if I go anywhere, totally worth spending my own money.

        1. The IT Manager*

          Wireless mouse and batteries to keep it running. The mouse is going with me when I leave, but I guess you could say the natteries are donates simply because I have been too lazy/in a hurry to to find out if the office has the batteries I need.

      2. Aimee*

        I’ve donated coffee before – but mainly because I’m a coffee snob, so I’d make a pot of my fancy coffee. I’d take a cup, but the rest was for anyone else who wanted coffee.

    6. Lynn*

      I’ve always brought in my own thumb drives. It’s a huge security hole if you think about it, but we don’t seem to be able to do without them, nor do we ever get them issued by the company.

    7. Amy B.*

      Pizza for my team since my boss would never fulfill his promise to buy them lunch. I got chastised for it; but the team appreciated it and it helped bring up their low morale and production.

    8. Sydney*

      I’m second-in-command at a small startup that my boss funds out of his pocket so I feel as management, I should bring my own stuff if I want to be picky about it. We do provide our employees pretty much whatever they want (within reason).

      – Pens: I like Papermate InkJoy colored ones so I buy them and don’t share
      – I brought in a personal monitor so I could have two, it was just sitting in my closet though
      – Paperclips: I like the colored ones so I buy my own
      – I bought myself a new graphics card ~$60 because the stock one was meh. I will take this with me when I leave though.
      – Wall calendar: I wanted puppies
      – I bought my own sticky note holder because it’s a purse and the stock one was boring
      – I paid for a Pandora One account to get rid of those pesky ads

      This is a special case though because I live and breathe this company. I wouldn’t do this if I were at a different company.

    9. Tex*

      I’m somewhat miffed that my company, a *FORTUNE 50 company*, does not provide manilla folders. They have a clean desk policy so information is secure and I understand that they may want to decrease the total amount of paper in the office. Unfortunately, it means all my project papers get shuffled together and piled into a cabinet every evening and every single morning I have to sort through the stacks again to find what I need.

      1. Just a Reader*

        I’m at a Fortune 200 and the process for getting office supplies is ridiculous. I BMO or go without.

      2. Natalie*

        What an obnoxious, lazy way to enforce that policy. I have my own personal clean desk policy and I still put my stuff in manila folders inside the drawer.

    10. Chinook*

      I haven’t had to buy anything but DH was given low quality gear by the police in red serge and ended up taking out a small loan to buy body armour that actually stopped rifle shots and offered some slash protection. And, if they wanted anything other than wool uniform pants, which require dry cleaning, they had to buy them themselves (but atleast they are an option now, they weren’t before last year). Oh, and if he fires more than his alloted round of bullets, he has to buy more from supply (he uses them once a year for firearms testing and any practicing he does. Shotgun shells for putting down roadkill are supplied)

      They also keep harping on him to volunteer his time at work (as in do the work of a cop without getting paid). The closest he has come to that is doing PR stuff like marching in parades or at ceremonies.

      They did give him his own stetson and high brown boots and his dress uniform is all custom made in Regina and those are defintiely more expensive that the vest (though not as bullet proof).

      1. AP*

        Oh, I would be especially curious to hear if there are any other cops, firefighters or soldiers on here – my vague impression is that it’s somewhat normal in America to buy your own body armor (I see people collecting donations for this regularly), but what else do you have to buy? What isn’t provided (or is provided but at a lower level so you end up buying a better version)?

        1. doreen*

          Not a cop per se- but I am an armed peace officer. What’s normal in the US is for every agency to have it’s own way of doing things. My agency provides everything I am required to have. They own it , I have to turn it in when I retire and pay what the agency determines to replace the equipment if it is lost or damaged by my fault. If I want a better version for some pieces of equipment( for example body armor with a stab plate) I can buy it myself, but for others I am required to only use the agency issued item or I can choose from a short list of approved substitutes. There are other agencies nearby where officers receive a yearly uniform/equipment allowance and buy their own equipment and still others where the officers buy their own and receive no allowance. In both those cases, the officer owns the equipment and retains it after retirement.

        2. Chinook*

          According to DH, buying your gear is highly unsual in Canada. The bank manager who okayed his loan was also shocked that he had to buy it as well. The irony is that this force was required, after a commission investigated the killing of a numbers of members by a loan gunman in a remote area, to have the better quality body armour available to its members. Their solution was two have 2 pieces of body armour available at the detachment which is only useful f a) you know you are going to confront a whacko with a rifle and b) you have the time to go back to the detachment and put it on. It is also significant that this police force, because it is paramilitary and answerable to the Canadian government (I am not mentioning the initials so that it is not searchable, not because what I am saying is confidential), it is against the law for them to unionize, which makes them unique in North America.

          On the plus side, when he is dressed in his red serge and stands next to his wolf, he does look like the star of “Due South.”

        3. The IT Manager*

          For the US military it is absolutely not normal to buy your own body armour.

          At the start of the war on terror ie 2002 – 2005ish the military was short of body armour (versus Vietnam-era flack vest which didn’t actually stop bullets) and there was media attention, donations drives, and equipemnt mailed to deployed troops. (It was probably true that national guard units and reserve units were not as quick to get the body armour than active duty units. In the case of the Air Force, it left the equipment in country and issued it to Airmen as they were about to fly into Iraq or Afgahistan.) I think shortage had to do with the inability for the manufacturers to supply enough units because there was a the sudden massive increase in demand.

          There’s always some “cool” gear that people in normal units often buy themselves. In 2007 with my unit, it was pistol shoulder holsters; people prefered the convenience of the shoulder ones when were not wearing body armour so they bought them themselves. In certain well-funded units, soldiers will have the pick of nearly any kind of cool gadget they want; soldiers in the regular units will often want to emulate them (and not always just because the gear is better. They want to look like the cool guys too.)

          In the US military, soldiers are not supposed to have to purchase any equipment themselves. They do have to purchase most of their uniforms after basic training; although, enlisted troops get yearly clothing allowance for that. Except for flight suits (and other specialty uniforms) – those are always issued so people who wear flight suits regularly end up paying less for uniforms than non-flyers.

    11. Aimee*

      I have a bunch of fancy file folders, post-its, notebooks, etc. I like them, so I buy them and bring them in. My company apparently stopped buying folders a few years ago (they might now – I don’t really have a need for them; I still have some of my own because I can’t resist the fancy office supplies though), and I needed to put together some process manuals for a workgroup I was helping to coordinate. They’d only need them for the 2 weeks of the group, so I used my own folders for them. Then when the group was over, I made everyone give them back. ;)

  14. A Teacher*

    Yeah to summer! That’s what I’ve got :). Oh and good cat pictures, I foster for a local animal rescue so anything animal is cute–my current foster is an 8 year old mastiff mix that was returned to us after living with her family for 7 1/2 years because they “didn’t want an older dog and decided to move to housing where pets aren’t allowed.”

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m about to foster kittens again (did it two years ago but haven’t since then) — very excited about it!

      Also, that family sucks.

      1. A Teacher*

        That’s awesome! Frees up more space in other shelters (we’re a rescue that doesn’t have a brick and mortar just a series of foster homes) and saves more animals.

        Don’t get me started on bad pet owners…my first foster dog I ended up adopting. She was dumped at the local AC the day after Christmas in 2011 because she was “too old for them.” I adopted her at 11 and she’s now 12 1/2 and doing great. My other dog is a certified therapy dog and her original owners didn’t have her spayed. She got pregnant at 8 months and they decided to use her as target practice but she was saved by local police. She’s now 7 and we volunteer as a therapy team for the humane society.

        1. PuppyKat*

          Some human beings should never be allowed the privilege of having pets. I sure hope the target practice people were prosecuted.

      2. Nicole*

        Fostering kittens is the best! I was doing it for a few months this year until my husband’s asthma took a turn for the worst and I had to stop. Now I get to look at all the cute photos of the kitties waiting to be adopted through the rescue I work with but I can’t cuddle with them. :(

    2. Amy B.*

      Argggrrr!! A pet is needs a forever home, not a “when it is convenient” home!!! Thank you for being a foster parent.

      1. A Teacher*

        I totally agree and while there are some occasions where a pet legitimately needs to be surrendered (see below) more often than not it is because “life changes” (new baby, no time, no room, dog is old, dog is sick, etc…same excuses for cats) and sadly the dog/cat pays.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        I know, but it’s really a pain when your cat turns into a pee-cat. I hate having an outdoor cat who can kill birds or be killed by a coyote, but I can’t have him inside either. (Yes, he’s fixed; no, the vet doesn’t find anything wrong.)

        1. A Teacher*

          I guess I look at it as a “fur kid with special needs.” My parents have one with bad hip dysplasia and I just had one adopted out that was blind. My 12 year old has random accidents in the dining room on the area rug (off of the pee pad, thanks a lot). I’ve gone to limiting access to part of the house when I have fosters that can’t handle it and that’s what the rescues I’ve worked with recommend for pets that have special needs.

          1. tcookson*

            There is a dog at the shelter where I volunteer who has a bad leg from being shot in the hip. He is a beautiful Shepherd/Mastiff mix, so smart and sweet. I have been sorely tempted to bring him home, but I know we can’t afford another animal right now. We took him to the farmer’s market last Saturday to get him some community exposure — I hope the right person for him comes along soon!

    3. RLS*

      I hate things like that.

      I do not understand why people think pets are disposable.

      That poor baby. I would take her in a heartbeat and never get rid of her! I hope she’s doing well with you and not grieving the loss of her family, because they don’t deserve her love for doing that.

      ::cuddles my 9 year old Mal mix::

      1. A Teacher*

        She is adjusting well, sadly I think she was probably abused based on some of her reactions but she’s adjusted to being around other dogs (I have two and my sibling has a few that I have some nights) and she’s doing great. She discovered the bed and the couch and now likes to get on them and cuddle :)

    4. Jazzy Red*

      Both of my pets are rescued dogs. One was turned in to the shelter when the family moved and the other one was abandoned. One family was good, one family not-so-much. I was prepared to hate the second family when one of the techs at my vet’s office told me that the shelters now charge $50 to take in a pet. When you’ve lost your job and your home, you’re living in your car, and your kids are hungry, the pet is the loser. I sympathize with them (whoever they were) and I’m just thankful that someone picked this dog up by the side of the road while he was still alive (just barely, though, and he’s in good health now).

      1. A Teacher*

        I’ve had 12 dogs adopted in the last 1+ year I’ve fostered, one of the recent dogs I had was surrendered because a landlord came in and told the lady after 2 years of living in the home she could no long have the dog. This family was great to the dog–she wasn’t up to date on some of the shots but she was loved, clean, and in pretty good health. The dog was absolutely my favorite foster ever and she was adopted out to a new home and is doing fantastic. I am fortunate because for the most part I keep in contact with my foster families via FB and email so I can check in from time to time.

        If you have the time and the space, consider fostering it is well worth it–and NOT as hard as some people think :) watching a cat or dog get a loving home is so totally worth it.

      2. Just a Reader*

        We have 2 rescued miniature dachshunds, and our previous dog was also a rescue. These dogs are so full of love that it blows my mind that they weren’t wanted.

        We can’t foster but we do adopt and I volunteer at events to find homes for pets when I can.

        Good for you for helping these animals. They break my heart.

        1. Lindsay J*

          My rescue is a shepherd/pincher mix. He was under a year old when I got him and I can’t understand how whoever had him didn’t want him.

          He came to me house trained, and is probably the smartest dog I’ve ever had.

          When I took him home and put him in his crate for his first day he took all the soft things he could find in the house and lined his crate with them because he didn’t want to lay on the hard floor. I could tell when I got him he had never been on a bed or a couch. He had also never seen cats before. For the first while he was very aloof and distant.

          I’ve had his since October and he’s now the sweetest dog ever. He loves sleeping in bed by me and my fiance or hanging out on the couch with us all day, and it is ridiculously cute how he takes care of our little dauschund as well.

      3. Chinook*

        DH has a rescue wolf (we are separated but have shared custody of the creatures). She came from a wolf dog society and was rescued by a bylaw officer because he kept getting calls about her going into town when she was a pup. They thought she was a wolf dog (naturally occuring in rural areas) but, if she is, the dog part is hiding very well. From what we can tell, she was raised by cats (loves ours) and really, really wants to obey even if she can’t figure out how to do it. When we first got her, she ran out on day 3 and we tried all night to catch her. She would get as far as our front door, eating the chunks of meat we left her, but refused to enter the house even for steak. Instead, she slept on the front lawn. We eventually got her back in and she is a complete coach potato (actually likes watch Mario Bros. cartoons). She adores my half blind, senior dog and will let him win whenever they playfight. She is well known to by-law and local cops because DH will bring her in when he is doing paperwork but she is never off leash because, well, she is a wolf and she is scary and she can run very fast. But, if commanded by DH or myself, she will give someone a hug by sitting down in front of them and leaning into them with all her weight. And she will sleep on the bed with the dog, cat and the human who is there.

      4. Frenchie*

        The homeless guy who always hang out around my apartment recently adopted a dog as well. He said he saw someone come into the park with a dog on leash, tie the dog and leave to never come back. He took the dog to the vet. Vet called the owner (tattoo) and owner said he did not wanted his dog back.

        Homeless guy now has a puppy and said he is making more money than ever and that the dog was a blessing.

      5. Natalie*

        The shelter is charging? That seems like it will have unintended consequences.

        People in my city already abandon dogs and cats even though the shelter here has a 24 hour dropbox/kennel hybrid you can leave an animal in if you are too embarrassed to surrender your pet to the shelter staff.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Poo on them.

      My kitteh is a dumpee–the neighbors didn’t want to pay for her shots anymore, so they said “Here, you have a cat!” She hung out so much at my house (fenced yard) that they thought I wanted her.
      Actually no–but she’s now babied so hard that for a half-feral outside cat, she’s pretty spoiled. Also, I just spent $175 to get a bad tooth pulled out of her little yowling mouth. :P

  15. Kara*

    Does anyone have any advice for this situation:

    We are a small financial firm, and one of our methods of marketing is to hire a telemarketer to make calls on our behalf and schedule appointments for the CPA to meet with clients. Due to the logistics of our office, we don’t have a space for her to come in and make calls, so we’ve hired someone to do this remotely. She’s supposed to work for about 20 hours each week, with certain goals of success that are set for her to reach. We’ve so far had two people in this position this year.

    The first lady we hired basically fudged her hours and drew a pay check, while giving us zero results. So we let her go and started interviewing other candidates. We found a woman who was looking for a part-time position because she wanted to go back to school to finish her marketing degree. She was currently working full time as a retail manager, and wanted less hours so she could focus on school. She sounded fairly perfect for the position. We made her an offer, she accepted, and told us she was putting in a two weeks notice with her store.

    When she showed up for orientation (about 8 weeks ago) I asked her how her last two weeks were going, and she told me that when she went to give her notice her manager said that they just couldn’t let her leave, and so they made her a counter offer, which she decided to take. I’ve been religiously reading AAM for about a year, and based on Alison’s opinion of counter-offers, I didn’t figure that would last very long. I asked whether or not this would affect her going back to school, and she said she decided to postpone that because she still wants to work with us. Okay, fine, as long as she can put in the 20 hours we need, I suppose it is her decision.

    Well, the problem is that she isn’t putting in the 20 hours each week (last week she clocked 5), and isn’t really hitting the goals we’d like for her to hit. My boss is frustrated at this point, because we’ve basically wasted 6 months on this position without any results. According to our marketing consultant this is supposed to be a fairly lucrative direction, with proven success in many of the other businesses he’s helped grow, so we want to continue with having a telemarketer, but are really having trouble holding a remote employee accountable. With this particular woman, its always an excuse related to her other job. I can understand why she prioritizes that position – they gave her a raise with the counter offer, their benefits are better I’m sure, and she ultimately gets a bigger paycheck from them by working more hours there (about 35). However, we do need her to focus on the work we hired her to do – but with her not coming into an office for us to directly manager her (we meet once every week or so to check in, but its not on a daily basis) it has proven difficult to get results.

    Any advice?

    1. Just a Reader*

      I’d cut her loose and find someone else. You wouldn’t put up with these “results” if she hadn’t stayed employed by her other company.

    2. fposte*

      I think somebody new to the job, the company, and remote work all in one is a poor candidate for successful remote work. I would try to do whatever you could to at least start them out in the office (can they park in somebody’s office while that person is on vacation?) and under supervision for a couple of weeks, and then supervise more intensely than you have after that. It also sounds like your budget isn’t going to draw people with a track record in this field and that the penny-wise approach has cost you–consider spending more money on somebody who demonstrably already knows how to do this.

      1. Kara*

        She’s new to the company, but has telemarketing experience. No experience working remotely though, so I can definitely see your point.

        As far as the office goes, no, there really isn’t a way for us to get her on-site. We all work remotely, so we have a one-room office space in an office suite just for meeting with clients. We would have to have someone go to the office and literally just sit next to her, which would not be productive because there’s no way any of us can get our work done with her on the phone all day. I wish that were the case.

        I’m not sure what you mean by our budget? We actually pay fairly decently for this position, with a generous bonus and commission structure for successfully bringing clients in.

        Thanks for your response!

        1. fposte*

          Okay, if she’s done telemarketing, then I’m probably off on the budget thing–it sounded initially like she hadn’t. Though you still might want specific kinds of telemarketing experience that isn’t here–there might be a difference between an outbound call bank and an independent commissioned position as far as history goes (and maybe she has the latter and still sucks, I dunno).

          But your office is undermanaging and not picking great, and that’s a bad combination. The physical space is a tough obstacle, but I’d at least set up regular Skype check-ins a couple times a day when starting somebody out (or putting somebody on a PIP, which is what needs to happen now if you retain your current employee). Additionally, maybe your marketing consultant has more information about employee selection or can put you in touch with a previous client who has some insight.

          1. Lily*

            “your office is undermanaging and not picking great, and that’s a bad combination” Unfortunately, I have figured out how true this is!. Some of the things I’ve done which seem to help are:

            I now schedule the check-ins from the very beginning. They submit their work the day before we have a scheduled telephone appointment to discuss it. People take the deadline more seriously if they know that we are going to discuss their work and I save the time needed to play telephone tag.

            I tell them about the check-ins even before I offer them the contract, so they know to expect them.

            I no longer worry about treating people the same. Someone who has been reliable in the past gets more leeway than someone who is behaving erratically.

        2. Maris*

          If you can’t have her physically present then there are other ways to manage remote employees and still tell if they are “present”.

          Does she have a set schedule? If you’ve told her that you’re flexible so long as she does the 20 hours somewhere… that needs to change. Set a schedule. Get the employee and whoever is supervising her on an Instant Messaging platform. That way you can ‘see’ when they are logged in. Some IM programs like Lotus Sametime will show you when someone is actively using their computer, and when they’ve wandered away for 30 or so minutes (you can set the time-out). Sometimes that’s enough – that they know you can see when they’re around and when they aren’t.

          You could also have a daily 5 minute meeting where you discuss the goals for the day and review results of the previous day. Or you could set her a deliverable that’s due each day (or every other day depending on schedule) – where she’s to give you her call log and run-rate for the day etc.

          I manage work from home employees from all over the world (from my home) – and it really can work. You do have to be a little creative sometimes in how you structure things so you can see the results they’re getting, but it can be done. There are lots of social media tools that make this easier. Skype; Instant Messaging; Google + hangouts etc. There’s even secure business versions of these (eg: Lotus Connections has corporate style versions of message boards, wikis, video conferencing, blogs, ‘facebook’ style profiles etc all integrated with e-mail so you never really have to jump out of your e-mail to use them).

    3. J*

      “Jane. We hired you to work for 20 hours per week and meet X goal each week. You put in only 5 hours last week and have been consistently missing the goals outlined in your job duties. You need to put in the amount of hours you were hired for and meet the goals we’ve laid out or you can no longer continue in this position.”

      I’d also recommend laying out a timeline for her doing these things; she needs to work all of her hours next week or she’s out. Stop letting this new hire drag your business down.

    4. Another Reader*

      I think you’ve said in your email what you need to say to her — that regardless of her other job, you need her to focus on the work she was hired to do for you and that your expectation is that she will work the 20 hours a week that is planned–if you have some flexibility, I would still ask her to clear any change in the hours she works in a week with you to get an okay before she doesn’t work them. I might also dig a bit to see if there are any other barriers. I might also take a look at the resumes from the last time you posted the job…

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I would look for someone who already has remote experience. It’s not easy to transition from butt-in-chair to flopped-on-couch, or whatever, and no boss looking over your shoulder all day. Not everyone can stay focused. And it sounds like Number Two had too much on her plate anyway.

  16. Jen in RO*

    I kinda feel guilty that some people are having so much trouble finding a job and I’m getting interviews for basically each application… and I’m not even 100% sure I want to leave my company! Two more weeks until I get an answer from my latest interview, and I’m half-hoping they’ll say no.

    1. Felicia*

      I’m having a really hard time finding a job, but I do get about 1 interview a week or more, which is way more than the other people I know who are having trouble finding a job and sometimes I kind of feel guilty for that even though no offer after 30ish interviews. I figure being supportive and helpful to the people you know who are struggling is all you can do.

      1. tangoecho5*

        Wow, that is alot of interviews. Why do you think you’re not having as great of luck getting an offer?

        1. Felicia*

          I honestly have no idea – Whenever I try to ask for feedback they say I interviewed well and that they just went with someone more experienced, and I graduated a year ago so I imagine there really are plenty of people more experienced than me going for the same entry level jobs. I also did some mock interviews with a career advisor and she said I did very well. I always prepare thoroughly before interviews and although I’m sure they can be better, I’ve never done anything that’s actually bad in an interview – sometimes merely ok, but usually good. I think it’s a case of all the candidates are really good and there just happens to always be someone a little better than me. It’s also a very competitive field that recent grads are currently finding nearly impossible to break in to. I also have no idea why I get that many interviews though.

          I hope I wasn’t being to braggy…since I don’t have a job getting that many interviews doesn’t really matter in the long run.

    2. Just a Reader*

      I had 4 interviews and 2 offers in a year of looking. It’s tough out there. Congrats on your hit rate!

      1. Jen in RO*

        I’m not in the US and my field, while very developed in other countries, is just starting out here, so I’m in a very privileged position. (And I fully admit this is a humble brag.)

    3. tangoecho5*

      Well my interview rate is nowhere near that good. But I have an excellent closing record. I’m made an offer about 75% of the time if I interview for a job.

      1. Esra*

        I have the same issue. Once I get the interview, no problem. But getting interviews? Ugh. I’ve been applying for a year and my interview rate is dismal.

  17. Janet*

    I have a question! OK, so a new co-worker was hired about 6 months ago. Nice person but they talk way too much about their old job. It is impossible to be in a meeting with this person without hearing “At White Chocolate Teapots we did x, y and z” or “You guys should do things the way we did them at White Chocolate Teapots” and even “I wish this was more like White Chocolate Teapots because we did this other thing there and it was so much better.”

    Initially this wasn’t a huge problem because the department did need some changes. But now, month after month it’s like “ENOUGH ABOUT YOUR OLD JOB!” and I’ve noticed in meetings when you hear “White Chocolate Teapots . . . ” people are starting to exchange glances and roll eyes. Some of the things suggested simply wouldn’t work here or have been tried here and abandoned in the recent future.

    It’s even at meetings with external vendors and when you work in marketing and someone is speaking about another company and the great work they did there, it’s not so great for your current company.

    Now the problem is that this person is senior to me so it’s not so easy to get it to stop. But it’s going to affect their ability to be successful here and it’s also really really annoying. Ideas?

    1. Elizabeth*

      My boss does this. I’ve told him that he needs to stop, because he’s been here since November, 2010, and he’s still doing it. If I, who am about the most charitable to him of all of the people who work for him, find it annoying, what do the rest of of his subordinates, and his superiors, think of him constantly saying “we always did it this way”? His boss has asked me repeatedly to help him overcome this tendency, and I’ve tried. It’s past the point of obnoxious.

      I don’t have any advice on how to make your colleague stop, but I will be watching this to see if anyone else does!

      1. Janet*

        Interesting – how did you tell him he needs to stop? That’s the awkward thing. I feel uncomfortable doing it since he’s senior to me but I was considering asking another person on his level to talk to him about it.

        1. Elizabeth*

          We were talking about some issues he’s had with some of the staff not in our department, and I asked him if I could be frank about something he was doing that bothered me. He said of course I could. I told him that for the first 6 months he was here, it was one thing to hear it, but after that, it was demoralizing to constantly hear that his previous employer in a different state always did things so different than we do, with the implication that we were Wrong. And that frankly, I didn’t care how Previous Employer did it, because we aren’t the same place. If I felt this way, and I’m disposed to be charitable, how was he coming across to everyone else?

          He was surprised about how I felt but he immediately understood and said that he would try to stop doing it. He managed for a few days, but he very shortly went back to what he’d done before. I reminded him, he stopped then started again. After a few rounds of it, I heard from his boss that she was concerned about how often he did it but that he was better for a while, and was I the reason. I told her that I’d been trying to get him to cut back, but that he doesn’t remember very well that it affects how people see him.

          This has been going on for a couple years now, obviously. It isn’t any better, despite repeated attempts on my part and the part of his boss. Since he is supposed to be the face of our department and how he’s perceived affects how our department is perceived, it frustrates me that I can’t get him to stop, or at least cut way back. I still hear it a dozen times a day, at least.

    2. Brooke*

      When you say “senior”, what exactly does that mean in your situation. Is this person your supervisor?

      I’m not sure how I would handle it with a supervisor, but I have worked with co-workers on the same level as me who have done this. (For whatever reason, it seems fairly common in my field.) Usually the blunt approach works well (but, take into consideration, I am a very blunt person). I have said, “Well, this isn’t White Chocolate Teapots. Here, we do it like this.” or even as far to say, “Ok, I know that your last job was a big part of your life, but now you work here. We don’t much care how White Chocolate Teapots runs their company and would appreciate it if you might stop referring to them and the way they did things.” I would never say this to anyone who is my supervisor, though! Also, in my field, when we hire someone who insists on bringing up the ways they did things at their last job, chances are their last job was a competitor of ours and that just doesn’t go over well with everyone here. It would be like if you worked at K-Mart and then accepted a position at Wal-Mart and told Wal-Mart how to run their business based on your experience at K-Mart. People don’t like that.

      1. Jen*

        Yeah, a supervisor. I figured that would prevent me from mentioning it. And yes, the Wal-mart/K-mart example is perfect. It’s like “Quit talking to people about your days at K-mart, you don’t work for them anymore and if K-mart was so great, why did you leave? And while K-mart does some things well, they aren’t perfect so quit holding them up as the only example of success.”

        I mean heck, I’ll talk about my past job sometimes too but more in a “Yes, I can hire the interns, I had to do that when I worked at Target so I have experience doing it.”

    3. hamster*

      I think i am guilty of this too . But it’s only been a month so things can change :)

    4. Brton3*

      I have been in a new job for less than a year and I am very very circumspect about how much I mention my old organization. They are very, very similar organizations but go about their work in very, very different ways. I think very carefully about bringing up comparisons, and only if I think they are enlightening (or at least funny).

  18. Just a Reader*

    Hmm…I have a non controversial comment/question that has been awaiting moderation for more than 30 minutes. Is it not appropriate for this thread?

    1. fposte*

      Alison mentioned there’s been some random sending of posts to the moderation queue, so I wouldn’t take it personally. (Does it have a link, by any chance? Anything with a link goes to moderation.)

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Occasionally the spam filter will stop working, and during that time (which is sometimes as short as 30 seconds, but sometimes longer), any comments submitted will get sent to moderation. I release them as soon as I spot them, but if I’m away from the computer, it can take a while longer.

  19. For a Friend*

    A friend of mine at work – we started on the same day, a little over 10 months ago – just got an exciting internal job offer. The offer was out of the blue, unsolicited, and from another department in our organization, one she works with extensively and has realized is where she actually wants to be. Before getting the offer, she had hoped to stay in her current position for a few years and then try to make the transition.

    We’re a start up, and her current role is responsible for launching our programming in two states. If she leaves, it will be pretty significantly detrimental to the growth in those states – our work is highly relational, and whoever fills her role will lose a lot of time rebuilding the relationships she’s begun to establish.

    We’re also in the process of developing a strategic growth plan. It’s very possible that next year (January – our fiscal year aligns with the calendar year) we will make significant adjustments to how we deploy staff, including shifting her out of one of the state’s she’s working in now. I don’t know how our management would choose to rehire right now, since it’s not clear that her exact role will exist in January (i.e., I don’t know if they’ll hire a replacement for her exact job, leave it open for a few months as they figure out what states a new person would cover, etc.).

    What do you think she should do?

    1. For a Friend*

      To be clear, there is no concern that she’ll lose her job in the reorg that might happen in January. She would either continue on with her two states, or shift to managing just one state (which would not be a demotion at all; she’s currently covering two states where most people in her role cover one – it would be a relief for her).

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I think she should look at the new job very carefully/objectively and decide. What would she like to do?

      What she should not do is make managers’ decisions for them. “Oh, I should stay here because if I leave it will be a big set back for this department.” No, that is the manager’s job to figure that out.

      It can be a heady experience to have someone want to hire you away from your current job. Her focus should be on learning about the perspective job and figuring out if it is a good fit for her.
      Collecting up more facts and info will be a tremendous help for her in figuring out which way to go.

      1. For a Friend*

        She knows the job super well – it’s internal, she works closely with the manager (hence the unsolicited job offer), it’s currently a part of what she does.

  20. StagOfBaratheon*

    Alison has always recommended that rejected job applicants ask politely for feedback, without challenging the decision of the hiring manager or being defensive, and following up with a thank-you. However, she mentions that some companies are forbidden from doing so because they fear discrimination lawsuits from a spurned candidate.

    Which begs the question: Is this a legitimate fear that has happened many time before, or is it mostly just an urban legend myth that’s grounded more in the fear of what could happen as opposed to objective evidence that is has happened before? Whenever I ask friends I know who don’t give advice to rejected candidates for evidence as to why they fear lawsuits, they never give any examples and simply reaffirm that they “strongly believe” that it’s highly likely a candidate would try to sue. It kind of reminds me of that panic that was spread on the news years ago about HIV infected individuals putting used syringes in movie theater seats; it turned out to be a false fear.

    I just don’t see how there could be lawsuits if you are rejecting a candidate or anything other than the age/sex/religion/orientation/ethnicity reasons that are protected by law. To me, a spurned candidate who is angry and wants to sue somebody will do so regardless of if the employer gives feedback or not. Plus, if the candidate is somebody who is, say, right out of college or is trying to enter the workforce for the first time, are they really going to have the financial resources to pursue such a lawsuit? And even if they did, who would risk the inevitable burned bridges that can spread from a lawsuit? We hear stories of many college students and recent graduates who put up with poor and possibly illegal internships without them wanting to pursue legal action for fear of retaliation and ruining their professional networks, so wouldn’t it be the same for rejected candidates?

    Would love to hear your opinions!

    1. Just a Reader*

      I never gave feedback unless it was related to experience being a fit. Because most of my hires were entry level, I don’t know that it would have been very constructive.

      Reasons included:
      You weren’t dressed up enough

      You slurped an iced coffee the size of a Big Gulp through the whole interviews

      You were carrying a beach bag

      You didn’t bring a notebook

      Telling me a core requirement of the job was “not my best skill” automatically disqualified you

      You were arrogant

      You were unlikeable

      You swore during the interview

      You have no idea what we do

      You don’t know anything about the industry

      Etc…just not a good, constructive way to convey those critiques.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Oh gotcha. NO RESUME??

              I always bring one. What if the interviewer accidentally deleted it, or spilled coffee on it or something? What if someone else spontaneously joined them and didn’t have a copy? Gargh!

              1. Frenchie*

                I absolutely HATE it when I am asked for my resume.

                I believe an interviewer asking for a resume says a lot more about him/her than about the candidate.
                Either you are unprepared or you are among those who believe in “trick questions”.

            2. Sara*

              I’ve been working for over 15 years since high school, and held many part-time jobs in addition to full-time ones so I’ve interviewed for many roles over the years. I’ve always taken copies of my resume to the interview and not once has any ever asked for a copy. They always have one! In fact, if they didn’t, I’d reconsider them!! It’s there turn to prepare. Yet I still bring it. I figure it will be my luck when I don’t, when the interviewer askes for a printed copy :o

              1. Sara*

                Dang it! Please excuse my typos, missing words and misuse of the word ‘there’. I shouldn’t type, enjoy wine (Sat night here) and forget to re-read my submission!

          1. A Teacher*

            I don’t take notes either and I think as we move forward with technology that’s going to be a big issue you’ll face. Most of my high school aged students have moved to taking notes via a tablet or on their phones. They can use shortcut keys (like I used to use shorthand) to take notes a lot faster and catch more of what I’m saying. That doesn’t mean I advocate pulling out a cell phone or ipad in an interview but it is something that I think we’ll see more of.

            1. Brton3*

              I am skeptical that it will become common for people to be furiously typing away on smart phones during job interviews. Tablets maaaaaybe.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit*

          Me either. I rarely take notes during an interview, except (sometimes) when I ask a few questions at the end.

          1. Jen*

            I usually keep my resume and some portfolio sheets in a bag if I need to share a copy with someone who doesn’t have one but I have never taken notes during an interview.

            1. Felicia*

              I’ve never taken notes in an interview either – I’m starting to worry I’m doing something wrong! I always have resumes with me if they need one and extra copies of writing samples, but Im not even sure what I’d take notes about – other than their answers to my questions at the end, but I always remember what they said for those. I hope I haven’t been rejected just for that. I always have a notebook actually since I take notes to prepare for an interview, and look them over before, but I’ve never thought to take it out and start taking notes.

              1. Just a Reader*

                This candidate just didn’t seem at all prepared. So the notebook was part of a larger perception. It didn’t look like she was taking the interview seriously because all she brought with her was coffee and a wristlet big enough for her keys and a cell phone, and she didn’t ask any questions.

                So no note taking is not a deal breaker, it’s just part of the bigger picture.

                1. Kelly O*

                  Minus the coffee, you might think me unprepared. I usually just bring in a portfolio large enough for a couple of copies of my resume. It holds a notepad and pen, but I can’t recall ever having taken notes in an interview. (I make notes afterwards, usually in the car or lobby immediately following the interview.)

          2. Jazzy Red*

            But you should look like you’re prepared to take notes. As, in fact, you should be.

            1. Just a Reader*

              Kelly she didn’t have a portfolio. I’m not kidding, she just had a wristlet and a cup of coffee.

              I don’t care if people take notes, if they are prepared.

      1. EnnVeeEl*

        I take notes because it helps me bring up points later in the discussion. I also review those notes while writing my thank you notes because I can bring up things they discussed and how I’m the answer to all of their problems. :-)

        1. Just a Reader*

          I take minimal notes but always bring a typed, bulleted list of questions. It’s just my process for preparing effectively. I don’t think very well on my feet.

            1. Felicia*

              I sort of do that – the typed bulleted list of questions. But I give myself 5-10 minutes to calm down from the interview adrenaline after I leave the interview, and then I make my notes. I find when I’m calmer I’m better able to focus on what I want to remember, and don’t think I forget anything important after 10 minutes

      2. Lily*

        I don’t even know what I would say!

        For example, I asked behaviorial questions about the past and the candidate repeatedly responded about what she would do in the future. I explained I was interested in past situations (and she had over 10 years of experience), I gave examples of my own and she just wouldn’t go into detail.

        So, I didn’t get much of a picture of her and I fear that I wouldn’t be able to elicit information from her on the job either. Would you tell a candidate that? (only if asked, of course!)

    2. Human*

      Sorry, I disagree w/ AAM here. I doubt many HR depts. would 1.) reply 2.) if they did, answer honestly. I am always amazed at what I hear someone say versus what they do. All the time. People don’t give honest opinions very often, esp. to someone they have no vested interest in. And really how often do human beings accept criticism? I have learned the most reading. Bibliotherapy such as reading others perdiciments has led to some aha moments- such as “shit, I must be annoying too when I….”

      1. fposte*

        It’s usually a hiring manager rather than an HR department who gets asked, though, and sometimes people really will give helpful info to a candidate *if the candidate makes it easy and safe to do so.* That means making it clear you’re not arguing about the job choice (and usually means having been a pretty decent candidate to begin with).

        1. Rachel in Minneapolis*

          I agree. In the last two months I asked for feedback from every company I interviewed with. Two out of four declined to provide feedback. The other two gave me moderately helpful information, such as: We went to with candidate b; he has more experience. I did however get some very helpful feedback from one interviewer, which led me to prepare differently for my most recent interview. (Basically, I had to research a specific area of the industry much more in depth.) This led to me getting a job offer! So feedback can really work.

      2. Marie*

        When I reject someone I always offer for them to get feedback…

        75% of the time when they call for it they are not ready to hear it and just argue so I can see why some would not offer it.

    3. J*

      Speaking from an HR perspective, I would say that most of this is about covering the employer’s ass. I don’t think that most candidates would actually bring a lawsuit against an employer because he/she did not agree with feedback regarding a job interview, application, etc. I do think that some candidates would threaten legal action (because they have), but most would probably not follow through due to the expense and cost of hiring a lawyer.
      I also think that an important concern for the employer is avoiding confrontation. I think if you have a strong candidate who was professional and courteous and you want to deliver some honest feedback, go for it. It’s great when people can be candid about the ups and downs of an interview. However, at least some candidates don’t want to accept any feedback even if they ask. Some of those people are of the mindset that no one could have been more qualified than they are, and they only want you to acknowledge that you made a mistake by not hiring them.

    4. EnnVeeEl*

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen AAM actively encourage following up for feedback. I think she has given advice to people who seemed dead set on doing it anyway, and set expectations that they may not get what they are looking for.

      In any case…I totally get wanting the feedback. But more than likely, you won’t get a response. So why not focus on the next application and not get caught up worrying about why someone rejected you? I know it’s hard, but it just makes for driving you crazy. Focus on your resume, cover letter, awesome suit, calming your nerves, having good examples of your work.

      I think most of the time it’s just – Chocolate Teapot Inc. liked Wakeen better than Jane. They were both great, but they liked Wakeen better. If you got that feedback, would it help you at all in the next interview???

    5. Majigail*

      I think it’s more that they don’t want the argument. You never know who is going to want to spar with you over the rejection and who is genuinely seeking improvement. I’ve never had a job applicant ask me for feedback, but I’ve had rejected volunteer applicants go nuts on me. (Cementing why they were rejected in the first place. )

    6. Sandy*

      I had a candidate apply to an entry level job with the company, mention his age in his cover letter, and I rejected him because his salary requirements were outside the budget range.
      He emailed me back, copying the EEOC and a number of other agencies, claiming I rejected him because of his age. My boss ended up phone interviewing him to CYA and she ended up having him come in for an in person interview. He was not a fit and we did not hire him.
      He didn’t pursue any further legal action, but he did start the whole interaction off with the threat. It wasn’t a good beginning.

      1. tangoecho5*

        Oh it was probably some suggestion by a college career center, his mother or the same people who suggest sending $1 Starbucks gift cards to hiring manager that gave him the idea to include his age on the cover letter. That way if he’s rejected, he can claim age discrimation and blackmail his way into a job!

        1. Natalie*

          Of course, if he is young this is even stupider, as US age discrimination legislation only applies to people over 40.

          1. Anonymous*

            I learned that as a junior in college when I applied for an internship. The hiring manager told me straight out that I was by far the most qualified candidate but that she wasn’t going to hire me because I was too young. I did ask the career services office whether that was legal (cringing in retrospect here), and learned that–surprise!–it was just fine.

  21. Random Reader*

    Long time lurker, first time poster! Does anyone have suggestions of good professional development books? I’m already checking out “Quiet” by Susan Cain.

    1. Kara*

      I like “The Elevator Speech Effect” by Terri Sjodin, and if you are a business owner or interested in the business of your business, I love love love Michael Gerber’s “The E-Myth Revisited.”

    2. A Teacher*

      I’m in the middle of Quiet–great book! I also picked up “The Invisible Gorilla” at B&N but have yet to start it. It looked interesting…

  22. Trudy*

    I live in the SF bay area and take BART to work. The unions have been on strike this week, though thankfully they’re coming back on the job this afternoon. I’ve had to drive to work all week, but I’ve carpooled with co-workers who live near me. I did a quick back of the envelope calculation, and I realized that I came out ahead economically due to the strike. Go me! I’m probably the only one who has, though. I’m glad the trains are going to be running again.

    And I injured my toe last night at the beach by tripping over a rock while walking barefoot. It still hurts this morning (I can’t even wear shoes), so I’m going to go to the urgent care after work to get it x-rayed. I hope it isn’t broken. If it is, I doubt my foot will be as sassy and entertaining as Alison’s.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Ouch! I hope your toe isn’t too badly hurt.

      I have a friend in SF and she’s always posting gross BART stories. At least it seems like it’s never boring!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        You better make a crapton of money. It’s gotten really expensive to live there, and the cool parts are being taken over by homogenous hipster jerks, or so I’m hearing.

    2. Pussyfooter*

      Ow! Ow! Ow!
      I just had a flashback of slamming my toes into a bench foot seconds before I was about to go play on a Florida beach. Fairly crippled on a week-long trip in unfamiliar territory. Took about 6 months for the foot to feel normal again–and my Mom wouldn’t drive the rental car to urgent care, so we still don’t know what I did to that foot.

      It gave me the most interesting bruise: clear line of demarcation from mid-foot to the groove between 2nd/3rd toes, with scary bruising all to one side. Curious.

      I hope yours heals much faster than mine <:)

      1. tcookson*

        Oh yeah — you said something nice to me awhile back and I almost didn’t recognize you without your picture!

  23. Just a Reader*

    Can I point people to my comment posted at 11:05? Just got approved–thank Alison!–and I’d love insight.

  24. Katniss*

    So, because of a breakup of a five year relationship that really messed me up financially, I had worked out a situation with my company where I would work remotely for a couple of months while I saved enough money to find a place to stay in the city my company is based in (although they have offices all over the country). I thought this had been going very well for the three weeks I’ve been working remotely.

    I got a call the other day from my boss and an HR rep telling me that no, this job is in This City, and if you cannot be in This City you are on unpaid leave until you can be back. Which makes it hard to get back to This City because I have no savings.

    What are my options here? I know I cannot afford to live in the city they want me to based on my income. So much of my money goes to student loan payments that I just don’t have enough. To me right now it seems my option is to tell them “I’m sorry, but there’s no way I can be in This City” and let them fire me or work with me as they choose, and to look for other work in the meantime in a city I can afford. If I tell them what’s up and they let me go, can I still ask to use them as a reference?

    Sorry if this is disjointed, I just found out that they were essentially telling me to move back or lose my job yesterday and I’m a bit upset.

    1. Trudy*

      So sorry to hear that. I was drowning in student loan payments for a while, too. Then I got on the income-based repayment plan. If your loans are federal (stafford, PLUS, perkins, etc.), and you have what they call a “partial economic hardship”, you can get your payments reduced. You pay 15% of your disposable income (defined as your income above 150% of the poverty level). My payments ended up being 1/3 of what they were before. That could give you some breathing room.

      1. Katniss*

        Sadly mine are private loans. Sallie Mae has worked with me in the past, but Wells Fargo, where I have the most money owed, just does not care to help.

        1. RLS*

          Ugh, I had such a hard time with Sallie Mae. I’m drowning in debt with them too, but fortunately the vast majority of my loans were federal.

    2. Just a Reader*

      That sucks. can you sell most of your stuff and find a roommate or sublet where your job is based?

  25. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Related to nothing: I have started working out with a trainer three days a week, and it is HARD. I have an incredibly sedentary lifestyle, and it became even more sedentary after my terrible foot tragedy a year and a half ago, and holy crap it’s hard to start exercising after years of that.

    I would love to know from others who started working out after years of slothfulness:
    1. How long did it stay awful for?
    2. When did you start seeing results, in terms of a visible difference?
    3. Is it acceptable to complain to your trainer throughout your workout? (Seriously, what is the etiquette there?)

    1. EnnVeeEl*


      I just started exercising. It was hard and really painful (sore muscles) for about a week. It got better after that. I have started noticing more strength and energy, and this is about four weeks in.

      Oh and PT are sadists and if you complain he might just work you harder. LOL

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        So far he seems amused by my complaining, but I might be kidding myself on that. He’s a pretty chilled out guy, which is why I like him. I don’t think I could work with a drill sergeant type.

        1. EnnVeeEl*

          Naw, it won’t be a drill sargeant-type thing (I wouldn’t work well with that either), but he will say, let’s do 20 crunches and then you find yourself doing 40.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Oh, I seriously think I’d stop working with someone who did that! If they have a problem with the complaining, they should just say so, not punish people for it.

    2. Beth*

      I don’t have a trainer but I just started the insanity workout after about 18 months of being a couch potato because of my EdD work. I’m just starting week 2. Every moment sucks. I complain at the overhappy, overbuff, Sean T. on the television, but I don’t think you can complain to your trainer.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think part of me secretly worries that the fact that it’s so unpleasant means that there’s something wrong with me, so hearing that other people think every moment sucks is somehow comforting.

        1. Lisa*

          A year and half ago I really started working out (and really meaning it!) I hate every minute of it, I even hate packing my bag in the morning to go after work. But one thing that keeps me going is something I read on another board- the tomorrow me will thank the current me for going. And it’s true, I feel healthier, stronger, leaner. Physically wise I still get winded, aches & pains when I increase resistance or weights, but some days are easier. And some days still suck. Good for you for going!

        2. Jazzy Red*

          Oh my lord, it *IS* unpleasant, difficult, and painful! Don’t doubt that for a minute. When you see results, it’s encouraging, but as I recall (from when I lost 45 pounds), it always remains sucky. That’s probably the reason I stopped and gained back all that weight. I desperately need to get back on track with health/fitness, too. I can’t stand feeling so heavy and slow.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          No, there’s nothing wrong with you–it takes a while to stop sucking.

          Unfortunately, I have physical issues caused both by my last job and by a health condition and if I slack off, I basically have to start all over. But what keeps me going is that I know it will stop sucking if I keep doing it.

          1. Frenchie*

            I usually take classes because this way, the teacher will yell at me if I try to leave before the end and shame me in front of all the other peeps who seem to have no trouble doing 40 push-ups. I think I can do 6 now. Yay me !

            I hate every minute of it. I hate all the vegetables that I force myself to pick over french fries. But I love the new me in the mirror in the morning.

            When I first saw something that looked like my abs, I swore I ended up being late to work because I would not stop staring and twisting my body in all directions to figure out whether it was just a random bump (cancer ?) or actual muscle for realsies.

          2. fposte*

            My health issues get worse if I don’t exercise. So how come all I remember when I contemplate exercising is how unpleasant exercising is, and not how unpleasant I feel as a result of not exercising? Human brain stupid.

        4. Rana*

          My experience is the more you need to do something, the more it tends to suck. :(

          (However, that’s a useful rule of thumb for directing one’s workouts – obviously you don’t want to do things that hurt and feel like they’re injuring you, but things that you just think “Ugh, I hate these” are often those that could be helpful in the long run to do more of.)

    3. Just a Reader*

      It was a solid 3 weeks before I stopped feeling horrible and started getting motivated. You do need to mesh with your trainer and you do need someone who’s going to push you.

      I started noticing a difference about a month in, not just in my body, but in my energy and stamina.

      The thing about complaining to your trainer is that there’s a bit of a crying wolf issue–if you really do need to stop due to a really elevated heart rate, nausea, dizziness, etc. it’s best if you have been a trooper the whole time, or most of it.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s a good point. I haven’t claimed any specific symptoms; I’m just dropping a lot of comments like “this sucks!” and slurs against squats, but I should keep that in mind.

        1. Esra*

          Nobody with an ounce of reason and humanity could blame you for using swears during squats.

    4. Esra*

      My first workout was… not pretty. It took me a month to get really into it and not look like a dying eggplant afterward, but one day it just seemed easier. I sailed through my workout with no breaks, and it actually felt good. As a lifelong sedentary bookworm, it was a pleasant epiphany.

      Also, from friends who’ve worked out with trainers, apparently trainers are there to be hardasses and you can complain because their main goal is for you to complete the workout. So, bitch away as long as the reps get done.

      1. Aimee*

        Exactly. If you are complaining about how much squats suck (and my arthritic knees agree that squats do indeed suck), while actually doing the squats and not trying to get out of it, then complain all you want.

        And one day, you’ll realize the squats don’t suck so much anymore (even arthritic knees can build the strength to do them well – just slowly and carefully) and that you can do twice as you did when you first started!

        Walking lunges never stop sucking though.

    5. shannon313*

      1. I went from a very lazy, unhealthy lifestyle to being nicknamed “Jillian”. It truly doesn’t stay awful for long and the idea that working out is addicting is actually true. The trick is to find something you like, like biking or running, or whatever.
      2. You’ll feel a difference after a few days (even if initially it’s misery from the soreness. Your body will say, ugh this sucks, but then–miraculously–one day it will go “ohhhhh, I get it now, thanks!” As for visible results, put on a pair of tight pants today, and try them on every other week. This works better for me than a scale, because inches and tone mean more to me than pounds.
      3. My trainer friends say they’ll tolerate whining at first, but if it is still happening at six weeks, etc. then they’re annoyed. But everyone’s different. Jillian says whining makes her want to go for blood, so..,,

      1. Just a Reader*

        I agree with it being addictive! You feel so good afterward and it’s easy to get obsessed with your next workout and new playlists.

        Also if you’re logging food, myfitnesspal is a great place to log all your food and exercise so you see what your real caloric intake and expenditure actually is in a day. You’ll be able to see how what you eat impacts your energy levels and, if weight loss is your goal, you can track how much you’ve lost. Great great tool. Online at and in the Apple app store (I assume there’s also an Android version).

      2. EnnVeeEl*

        I have to agree with your trainer friends – I complain about the initial muscle soreness, but by week six, the soreness will have subsided.

        I also like trying on tight pants/skirts as a gauge, because for two and a half weeks out of the month, water weight gain makes it hard for me to use a scale. I have to track very carefully using scales and even then, it’s not accurate.

        1. Chinook*

          Yes – guage your success by how clothing fits and not by what you see on the scale. Muscle weighs twice as much as fat.

          1. Natalie*

            MFP will let you record other measurements as well. I have a soft tape measure so I gauge progress with a few key measurements.

    6. RM*

      For me it took about 8 weeks to notice differences. I started by signing up for a 5k a couple of months in the future. I had to run to get in shape for it. By the time it came to run it I was having fun. I started running half marathons. Haven’t gotten to a full marathon yet, but just being able to run a half feels like a huge accomplishment.

    7. Zelos*

      I did about a month of pretty regular workouts (5-6 times a week, different regions each time, mix of gentle weights, yoga, exercise ball, and pilates). I have a bad knee, so it wasn’t run-until-you-drop intensive (and thus may not have the dramatic improvements such intensive workouts produce), and I couldn’t keep up with the schedule since I had life, some networking, volunteering stuff, and other responsibilities crop up…but here’s what I found:

      1) At around the two week mark, it stopped being super awful. Mind, I was still getting sore-ish and I kind of enjoy that feeling (makes me feel accomplished), but I stopped being all “I can’t move” the next day.
      2) One month is way too short to see significant gains (especially since I couldn’t keep it up), but I did sleep a little better within the first week. I’m not sure if I had more energy since it was a super busy time and I didn’t exactly get 8 hours of shut-eye a night, but the quality of sleep seemed a little higher.

    8. Natalie*

      1. It depends on how consistently you work out and whether you’ve found something you like. Yoga and cycling got easy quickly for me, because I don’t hate them. By contract I despise running in all of its forms and I never stopped hating it.

      2. Pretty fast, particularly if you’ve been sedentary. If your focus isn’t primarily weight loss, you might want to use some other measure of progress. Your numerical weight may not change, or may actually increase as you replace fat with muscle.

      3. I’d ask the trainer. Personally I couldn’t work with a trainer than couldn’t handle some complaining and sarcasm, since that’s my primary form of communication.

    9. A Bug!*

      It’ll vary trainer to trainer, but if your trainer doesn’t specialize in high-level training I think most will absolutely tolerate passive complaining, which is what I imagine you’re doing. If your trainer isn’t happy just to see you working your hardest and coming back despite how tough it is on you, then you should look for a new trainer.

      And yeah, working out is really tough and for some people the feeling of it being a huge chore never really goes away. Not everybody is wired to find working out immediately rewarding. But as you get more fit you may find yourself more able to enjoy recreational fitness activities because you’re able to participate in them at a higher level, and when that happens it’ll be easier to maintain your level of fitness.

      By the way, if you aren’t already, I’d encourage you to gauge your progress by your increased performance at the gym itself rather than in the mirror. Are you lifting more than you were when you started? Able to keep up your cardio longer? Feeling a little less sore the next day? I find that I’m more motivated at the gym if those are the measures I’m using, because they’re more directly tied to my workout than my waistline is. (But I’m an RPG-player, so my willingness to grind XP is probably what makes this the more effective measure.)

    10. Anonymous*

      For me a workout always feels a little like a punishment. Even the things I like to do (skate skiing on a lake, rollerblading) I have to really talk myself into most days. It helps a lot to have a goal (5K/marathon/40 mile rollerblade/loppet/climb a mountain/whatever), and ideally after that goal expires, a new goal!

      I also listen to audiobooks or podcasts because what I’d really like to be doing is reading something, so that lets me read something and get the workout in. And anyone who tells you some froofroo stuff about you have to enjoy nature if you are outside doesn’t get that you sometimes can’t hear nature over the sound of yourself sucking wind anyway so you might as well treat yourself to an awesome audiobook you’ll enjoy.

    11. nyxalinth*

      I just recently started walking to get in shape, so I’m in the same boat. I’m already seeing results, and I’ve heard the worse shape you are, the sooner you feel and move better. Might not be true, but I’ve been at it for maybe ten days now, almost every day.

      visibly, I don’t look different yet, but the scale dropped by 5 pounds :D Only about 90 to go…

      1. Frenchie*

        The first step is always the hardest.

        Congrats on those 5 pounds. Keep up the good work.

    12. LCL*

      Always exercised, but not that intensively. Just started seeing a trainer 1 a week.
      1. Stayed awful for almost 4 weeks.
      2. I still don’t see anything visible, but my core is much stronger and that is noticeable in all my daily activities that require strength.
      3. Ask your trainer, they are all different. I am sure your trainer will want to know if anything is causing you pain, and what kind of pain. Sore muscles good, screaming joints bad.

    13. A Teacher*

      Two months of running painfully slow for me….its actually been a good 7 months (7 foster dogs adopted, trip to Vegas and I’m down 45 lbs). I am an athletic trainer (work comp/PT clinic were my focus) as long as your PT and trainer are focusing on your form, helping you to increase in weight/reps, and encouraging you and not putting down your complaining you’re in good hands. Good luck!

    14. Kate*

      After six months of not exercising (I had been pretty active prior to this), I joined a sports team back in April. I thought it would be a casual, kick a ball around the park sort of deal, but it’s super intense and super competitive.

      My practice on Tuseday was 90 minutes of sprints up very large hills and staircases. I thought I was going to die. I would definitely say it gets easier over time, but that’s also when the work-outs get more intense. I always wonder if my super fit teammates are also on the brink of passing out, but I don’t want to ask haha

    15. Claire*

      I’m about to attempt to start running this weekend after being a couch potato for…ever? SO thanks for bringing it up and I’m going to try to absorb all this advice and try not to keel over and quit immediately.

      1. Frenchie*

        It does not matter how fast you run, you are still lapping everybody on the couch !

      2. Natalie*

        My dad is a marathoner and has cajoled me into running a few times. It’s not my thing, but I did get a couple of good pieces of advice from him:

        1. A good way to gauge whether your pushing yourself to hard is how much you can talk. If you can easily say more than one full sentence, you probably have the capacity to run a little faster. If you can’t even get a word out, you’re pushing too hard.

        3. It’s ok to alternate running and walking when you’re first starting out. A lot of people alternate when they do their first few marathons.

        2. A big challenge of running is mental. Your brain weasels may try to psych you out. My dad uses the mindfulness approach, but I personally think that’s advanced running. Put some music or an engaging, not too cerebral podcast on your iPod to help distract your brain.

      3. Rana*

        There are tons of “Couch to 5k” sites out there that can be helpful – I always find them motivating. :)

      4. Windchime*

        Have you tried the Couch to 5K podcasts? That’s a good way to ease into running. I used it a couple of years ago, and I know others who have also had good results.

    16. Lar*

      I played college athletics so working out/training was a daily part of life for a lot of years. When my playing days were over I told everyone that “if you see me running call 911 someone is chasing me” and “if you see me lifting weights come help because I am trying to move them out of my way so I can take a nap.” After a period of slothfulness, I was surprised that I didn’t get any compliments on how good the “extra weight” looked on me so I started a regular exercise routine.
      In my experience:
      1. About 3 weeks. It will never completely quit being awful and when it does it probably isn’t doing you much good.
      2. I was always told 6 weeks to SEE results.
      3. Most of them like it, it strokes their ego. When you stop complaining they will ratchet it up a notch!

    17. Maria*

      I have never liked working out. I had a gym membership and I would take my Kindle and go use the elliptical for 30 minutes at a time, and sometimes use the weights, but I never really developed a solid routing. So when crunch time at work started (video game industry), it was easy to stop going.

      Then I went indoor rock climbing, and I LOVE IT. It’s the first thing “exercise-y” that I really really love. So making myself go was never an issue. Yeah, it hurt, but it was fun. I actually had to keep myself from going as often as I wanted, because otherwise I’d hurt myself. So for me, it never really sucked. However, if we’re just taking pain…
      1) I’d say within 2-3 weeks it stopped hurting so much all the time everywhere. It became more like “oh, my back is starting to hurt, I should probably slow down/stop for now”, i.e. a good indicator that Something Was Wrong.
      2) I didn’t lose much weight from this–I think counting calories did more for me there. But within a month of steady climbing, I could see my arms and back start to look way more toned, and I wasn’t as wimpy when climbing hard routes.
      3) I didn’t have a trainer, just my boyfriend. He has 0 tolerance for my complaining, so I try to only complain when there’s a real problem. (Like when we went back after I had “recovered” from a sprained ankle, only to discover it was still healing.) I suppose that’s my general philosophy. Keep complaints to a minimum so you aren’t crying wolf. But the occasional “Wow this is rough!” is totally fine.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh yes, finding something you think is fun works much better than dragging yourself around a track or the gym.
        I took up figure skating. Not only does it stay interesting, but I have to cross-train to be decent at it. I always think I must love this to throw myself all over the ice every weekend (I never said I was any good at it, LOL).

    18. SCW*

      The trick is to keep at it! I was sick and had a lot of schedule changes and fell out of running for two weeks and it has not been easy getting back into it. Plus it is really hot out there now!

      I’m just starting running, not full on personal training, so while I’ve lost weight I’m not sure it is connected that much to the exercise.

      As for the complaining, if I paid someone to help me train, I figure I’m paying them to hear me complain. It comes with the territory. Unlike when I convince my sister to run with me, I have to keep my complaints to my self or she will run off and leave me. Since she is so much faster!

    19. Anonymous*

      I work out almost every day and don’t lose weight (damn you, my love of food!). Aim high for the number of days you exercise per week and even if you can’t hit it, you’ll still get it in. Recognize that you may have to make changes based on your age. Now that I’m in my mid-30s I actually do need rest days even if I don’t take them. Do what you like. I tried to force myself to go running, and got up to five miles, but then realized that crying in pain every day wasn’t good for me. I stopped altogether in favor of another exercise and don’t regret that decision. The best exercise is what you will actually do!

      1. Job seeker*

        Just keep at it. I love to exercise and my body misses it if I have to skip a day. It makes you so much healthier and just wait until you start losing inches and pounds. I am not in my 30s anymore like you but I liked to exercise when I was. Try some variety if this seems really hard. I bet you will crave exercising everyday like I do in no time. Just remember the results are worth it. I weigh less than I have in a long time and love it.

    20. Editor*

      I started exercising again by swimming. In the beginning I mostly did breaststroke and some sidestroke and also spent a lot of time holding a kickboard and just kicking. Gradually I increased the number of lengths of crawl that I did. By eight weeks, a lot of the struggle was over and there were definite improvements.

      The advantage of swimming was that I had a lot less joint pain and my back felt better immediately. The disadvantage was that I was hungry all the time. I ended up eating more protein than I had been. And the other disadvantage was the whole hair maintenance thing.

      I like swimming and am good at it, but even if you are an average swimmer, adding some swimming to your routine might ease the pain a bit while not letting your body slump into inertness again.

      Finally, I’ve also had some exercise routines because I’ve had a couple of bouts of physical therapy. There was quite a variety of stuff, and I like the changes in routine. If your trainer has you doing a lot of stuff you don’t like, why not ask about a varied routine. The PT people had some equipment I would have really liked to have been able to use at home or the gym. I am not a big fan of squats, for instance, because if you drop and bounce you can do damage. The leg press equipment at PT was great for my back, but the el cheapo gym seems to run more to treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes and weight-lifting stuff.

      Maybe you should see if you can find out more about trainers in your area to find someone who is ok with complaining but also finds a way to make you feel better without making it as painful. I guess I would want to know if a trainer wants me to get fit or wants me to be an athlete. I don’t think I’d want a trainer who was scornful of the more modest goal of fitness as opposed to gym-rat-athlete goals. And with a trainer, I would definitely want variety. I am paying for knowledge, and part of that is that the workouts aren’t just more and more of the painful same.

      Can you tell I hated PE class except for when we played soccer?

      1. Rebecca*

        A thing I’ve recently discovered about swimming is that there are lessons available for adults- I’m taking beginner lessons, but the place I’m taking them also offers advanced technique classes, which might be a fun way to change things up from maintenance to increasing skill.

        My usual workout is a martial art, and my favorite thing is that you can progress both in skills and in fitness, and that one supports the other. I get super bored if I’m not progressing one way or another- I like learning new things!

        I’ve also vaguely considered the olympic style lifting path for the same reasons- there’s a strong skill component to go with the fitness side.

    21. Pussyfooter*

      I work in a fitness center.
      We’ve got a dozen or so Trainers and I can honestly say that whether it’s acceptable to complain totally depends on the Trainer. Ask him.

    22. TheSnarkyB*

      It is so totally not just you. I honestly think that the whole “working out is my fav part of the day!” thing is just meant to shame people who don’t love it. I hate it. I did it consistently for a few months in college (I’ve since fallen off the wagon). I saw results in about 5 weeks, and I was doing stuff I loved. For me, it was easier to keep going once I got there than it was to get off the couch in the first place. So I’d go 3-4x/ wk, about 90 minutes each time. I rotated elliptical and bike “hard as you can” for 7 min, “take it easy” for 50 seconds, repeat. I hate anything that impacts my joints, so elliptical was great. Saw results in about 3 weeks, but one important piece of advice I’d give is if you must compare yourself to anyone, compare with the people most similar to you in age, food intake, sleep level, stress level. I hated that my results weren’t as good as the girl down the hall who only ate 3 smoothies a day and started 65 lbs lighter than me.
      Seconding the advice to use tight clothes as a better yardstick- just watch out for jeans that get looser with wear regardless of weight loss!
      Good luck! Keep going! You’re amazing for putting in the work!

    23. anon attorney*

      1. I think if it’s that awful you are doing the wrong activities. Sure, starting exercise after a long period of inactivity is a shock to the system, but after the first few sessions, if it still sucks, try something different. I’ve tried various things over the years and the only thing I really enjoy is what my current trainer does which is a mix of powerlifting and kick boxing! I am over running and endless cardio – too boring. If you don’t find something you enjoy, you’ll find it major hard to keep it up.
      2. Mental benefits immediately. Physical, 4-6 weeks or so.
      3. Depends on the trainer. Mine doesn’t do whining and I am fine with that as if he indulged me I would lose focus. I also think that if one complains all the time, it might be more likely that a genuine problem leading to injury won’t be picked up on properly. but I don’t think there’s an etiquette issue with griping – you’re the paying client after all!

      Hope you start to enjoy it soon – regular exercise really does improve wellbeing.

    24. JessA*

      Have you tried yoga or pilates? I have a friend who was a certified yoga instructor and I would work out with her. I was never really into sports, but yoga, I really enjoyed.

    25. Brton3*

      1) I have been working out HARD with an olympic lifting trainer for 6 months and I am still in agony basically all week. I know this sounds like BS but I love it.
      2) In order for me to really see results I have to come to terms with the fact that I MUST eat less sugar and fat and I MUST eat LOTS more protein. I am actually considering going to a nutritional consultant type place. This is the only way to get the physical results you need. It doesn’t matter how much core work you do, if your body fat isn’t below x% you’ll never see your abs.
      3) You should complain because the trainer is super concerned about you getting injured. The trainer should never dismiss your complaining but should help you work past it.

      1. Brton3*

        Also! I don’t know what your trainer is telling you, but stretch even more than you ever thought you would need to. Stretch throughout the day, stretch before AND after the workout.

  26. AnonForThis*

    Can folks share their stories with jobs that weren’t a good fit?

    I think I’m in that situation now, but like a frog in a pot of boiling water I’m having a hard time recognizing it. It doesn’t feel like I imagined it would – I thought it would obvious. Instead, I’m just kinda subtly miserable.

    On paper, my job is fairly amazing (big salary bump, prestigious org, the best management structure I’ve ever had, real investment in professional development, work that I believe in, complete flexibility in time and location of work, wonderful coworkers, etc. – lots I would miss about it if it were gone). But like a good-on-paper boyfriend who treats me well but just doesn’t make me happy, I just don’t like my job. I’m tired and stressed out and feel like I’m failing (although I get nothing but positive feedback) and living for the weekend. Sigh.

    Tell your stories?

    1. De Minimis*

      If you’re getting good feedback it may not be as bad as you think, although you can certainly do well at a job that isn’t right for you.

      My situation was similar…job opportunity that is considered one of the best in my field, but it wasn’t right for me and I knew it almost immediately. I could never get acclimated to the job, never could develop an internal network, had trouble finding stuff to do. It was public accounting and once busy season rolled around I just couldn’t do as well as my peers and after a while people just quit contacting me for work projects. I was let go about a year after I started, and the partner actually said, “It just isn’t a fit.”

      It was a weird situation…I knew right away it was a mistake, started looking for another job, etc., but didn’t find one and was stuck. Spent the last few months waiting for the axe to fall–I couldn’t really do anything to save myself since no one was giving me work.

      I go over it a lot still, even years later. I’m finally on the road to rehabilitating my career, but in some ways I’m still at that last job. I made a ton of mistakes there, besides just the fact that I should not have taken the job to begin with, and should have kept looking since I had a significant interval between getting the job offer and an actual start year [over a year….]

      It sounds like at least you are doing well there, which should count for a lot even if you do decide it’s not right for you and that you need to move on.

      1. Lucy*

        I’m in a similar boat, Anon- I’ve been in a new role for three months and I guess just trying to determine when it’s supposed to “click.”

        1. Girasol*

          After a layoff I got my dream job, got started, and it felt wrong. But, I thought, they aren’t used to new people and I’m not used to being new. It’ll just take a little time, that’s all. So I did my best, but for some reason all my tasks were cancelled or reassigned when it was discovered that the previous doers of those tasks were miffed at having them assigned away elsewhere. My boss said I was doing great but he didn’t seem to know or care what I was doing. That’s okay, I thought; give it time. After five years I still felt like the new guy who just needed a little more time to fit right in. I moved to another department in the same company and I felt like a member of the team in under a month. So I can’t tell you how long to put up with that niggling feeling that something’s not right, but five years is downright stupid. I can vouch for that.

      2. Nameless*

        De Minimis you sound just like me. I graduated and I was offered a tax associate position with all the benefits making 55K right off college. It was a regional firm. I used to get projects during the busy time and noone had time to properly train me. I took twice as much time as someone who did it a year before. I was miserable, I dread going to work. The worst thing about this job was that all the managers didn’t trust or give me work so I had to sit there and just wait for my 8 hrs. It was horrible. I never thought I could ever work again. I took 2 years before I came back to work. Now I am a controller, I look forward to going to work than I look forward to coming back to my wife. One comforting thing to me was that my GPA was decent so I know I wasn’t dumb.

    2. Sabrina*

      Five years ago we moved to our current city without jobs lined up. Neither my husband or I do anything that’s “in demand” and we weren’t getting interviews, so we felt it would be best to do that. Well a few months in our savings was dwindling and I took the first thing that was offered to me.

      The problem was that the job was not as advertised. They said they needed an Admin Assistant, what they needed was someone who had the skills, training, and willingness to do direct patient care. I hadn’t stopped looking, but hadn’t found anything. Eventually I no longer worked there. It was an odd situation though, I wasn’t really fired or laid off, but I didn’t quit either. We just mutually agreed on what my last day would be.

      1. Kelly O*

        I had a very similar situation. It was an Administrative Assistant, but they really needed someone with coding and medical office knowledge. It wasn’t advertised as part of the position, and as time went on, the need for those skills increased. I left after six months, which I didn’t want to do, but it was necessary. I was already underwater and not fond of drowning.

    3. Lindsay*

      I am delighted to have my current job. It’s in my field of study (finally!), the work is OK and I have great benefits.

      BUT – while they hired me to “innovate” and “update,” that’s not the culture that’s in place here. There’s tons of resistance/indifference from coworkers to even minor changes (like job manual updates, or where we should keep the office three-hole punch. Seriously!). So, after being in this position a year, I accept that this is the workplace culture regardless of lip service from management.

      However, my job looks great on my resume, so I’m just “doing my time” until I have enough experience to get something better. Plus, the longer I stay, the less I look like a job hopper from all of the prior jobs I’ve had. And, you know, – BENEFITS. I <3 having health insurance.

      Not totally the same as your situation – but I know what you mean when it's "good on paper" but in reality, there are little things that make you feel like you're not a good fit. I do good work and get positive feedback, but I am a bit of a clock-watcher these days.

      Anyways. Living for the weekend is OK if you can get through work. Make the most of your personal life! : )

    4. Kate*

      That’s me right now. I knew before I even interviewed for my job that it was going to be a bad fit (I had worked for them during a summer) and it took me a week to even write the cover letter because I was dreading it. Well, after 9 months of job searching after graduating college, it was the only job that was offered to me and I had to take it. I keep my eye out for the type of job I know I want, but it looks like I’m going to be here for a bit.

    5. Anon*

      I used to work in an office that I thought was great. The work was awesome, the coworkers were awesome, my boss was awesome, and my oversized desk with personal foot massager was on a rainbow in the lollypop forest! I used have a tendency to immediately overcommit to jobs and start imagining retiring from there (a tendency I still have to watch out for), but this time I don’t know what I was thinking. After leaving I realized that my coworkers all hated each other, my work was depressing, and I was terrified of my boss (not a bad person or a bad boss, but not the right fit for me). When I run in to old coworkers and hear how things have been going since I left, I wonder how I ever escaped my self induced Stockholm syndrome long enough to get out of there. I like my job now, but I have fewer delusions about the writing on the wall here. That has led me to assume I need to be planning my next move and let me get much better at identifying opportunities to pad my resume, which my boss loves (she also has no delusions about the shortcomings of our employer). Learning not to always side with the home team has been a very smart career move for me.

    6. E.R.*

      Yep, I have a “great on paper” job that doesn’t sit right. and there is awkwardness between me and the CEO (very small company). In the ad, he said he was looking for someone with exactly my experience, but now it seems he’s changed his mind and is looking for someone who is very well-connected in this industry (which I am not, yet) to do this job. I’m 6 months in and on track to hit my first real goal, but, oh the writing is on the wall for me and I’ve run over and over in my head what I will say when he sits me down to let me go (really nice things, for the record – but I’ve prepared) . I’m going to have a talk with him this week (my idea) about the future of my position but I’m not hopeful. It’s kind of sad for me, and it’s totally a “fit” issue. But it’s important for you to know you’re not alone – Gosh, I spend so much time in awe of people who seem to have their jobs under control and are just climbing that ladder to Success.

  27. Foam chick*

    How would you guys list current multiple titles for a job. Chocolate teapot design, estimating, ISO rep, safety rep. The first two flex based on how busy we are, so not sure how to approach it.

    I also have recently taken on more responsibilities to help my manager. Does it make sense to add a line under this employer on my resume? Responsible for quote approval up to $10,000?

  28. Natalie*

    Networking question:

    I went to a really small college with a strong networking tradition. A few months ago during a local alumni meeting I met the director of a state agency here, also an alum. We talked as part of a small group for a bit.

    There’s a job opening at said agency that I am qualified for and would be interested in. Does it make sense to get in touch with this director or does it not count if I’ve only met him once?

    1. Bonnie*

      We have a college in my region with such a strong networking alumni tradition that you don’t even have to have met the person to make the contact.

      So if the alumni of your college are really a small community of tightly networked individuals then go ahead and make the contact. Otherwise I think it would depend on if you think that he would remember the event and the conversation. If you contact him and are worried that he won’t remember maybe you can remind him of the conversation.

    2. Amanda*

      The director went to that networking meeting in part to meet people just like you. If you had met him once at a random professional event I wouldn’t, but since you have the college connection as well I would not hesitate to contact him.

  29. shannon313*

    So I love today’s open thread for so many reasons, mostly because I am dealing with two top level executive salesmen who invented a feature our database doesn’t actually have and are now pissed that I can’t tell them how to use it…..I went from extreme frustration to laughing hysterically at the “wheeeeeeee!” Story!

  30. literateliz*

    Yay open thread!

    So I’m about 6 months into my first “career” job, working for a great company that I love. The other day HR sent out an email saying that they need someone to cover the front desk next month and wanted to ask for referrals before going with an external temp–the exact words were “someone who is interested, available, and would be an appropriate face to the public.” I’m wondering if it would be weird or inappropriate for me to refer my boyfriend, who has been job hunting unsuccessfully for a few months now. His only experience is in retail and his current part-time job dealing with students at a language school, so I thought this might be a good thing for him to add to his resume (and he certainly has experience with the public!). The front desk receptionist sits alone in a small retail space on the first floor (I’m on the third floor), and I’m thinking the short-term nature of the job might mitigate the usual concerns about hiring a current employee’s SO, but I don’t want to come across as clueless or pushy. What do you all think? If it is appropriate, how would you phrase it? I’d certainly let them know that he is my boyfriend and so I can’t provide a reference per se, but he has appropriate experience and is available for the timeframe where they need coverage. Any thoughts are appreciated!

    (Also breathing a sigh of relief over BART coming back!)

    1. Esra*

      If you think he’d be good at it, I think it would be fine to mention that. You can refer him without making it a hard sell, especially since they specifically asked people to do so.

    2. Calla*

      I’ve referred my girlfriend for two jobs, both where, as far as I can tell, no one thought it was weird and she got interviews (first one was my current [large] workplace; second time was a former workplace, very recently and hopefully gets the job). I think a referral is different from a recommendation. As long as you make it short and sweet, i.e. “My boyfriend, X, is currently job-searching and I think he might be a good fit for this.” End.

    3. Nichole*

      I think how you put it -“he is my boyfriend and so I can’t provide a reference per se, but he has appropriate experience and is available for the timeframe where they need coverage”- is perfect. I used to work with my husband, and I loved it. Now that he has a good track record and people see it wouldn’t be weird to have us both here, a lot of doors have opened up for him as a career changer, too (I work at a college and he is also a student).

  31. Poe*

    It’s official – I got my UK visa approved, and I am moving! Does anyone have any advice on how to format a resume (CV?) for the UK vs. North America? Are there any good sites for help? Or is it all exactly the same? I work in higher education on the support staff side, if that makes any difference. Thanks :)

    1. Amanda*

      I’m not well-versed on CVs (done a few but never used them for any serious job-searching), but CVs are longer, more detailed versions of resumes. They tend to be 2-3 pages instead of 1-2 and can include things like hobbies, trainings, even marital status and place of birth, etc.

      I don’t have any great website suggestions, I just googled “CV template” and went from there. Hopefully some non-American poster will come along and be more helpful!

      1. Sali*

        No no no no to the 2+ pages, hobbies, marital status, etc! Just follow AAM’s advice and put what’s relevant. And beware of following all advice on the World Wide Web (except this one ;p ).

        1. Amanda*

          Whoops, my bad then. Are CVs done differently in the UK than in other parts of Europe? Although once I did a CV in a former British colony and from what I could tell, all that info was commonly used by job-seekers in that particular country. Or are conventions changing?

          I’m really curious now! (And this could be valuable information for me since I will probably want to work abroad again in the future.)

          1. Sali*

            Haha sorry at my extreme no-ing, I think it was the 2-3 page bit that got me – I can’t stand long CVs! Well former colonies are never going to be exactly like Britain itself so I wouldn’t compare practises this way. I also can’t speak for other European countries (though I have noticed some eastern European candidates often include a small photo of themselves but that could be a coincidence). Generally I think the best professional CV is probably how AAM would describe how resumes should be – concise, clear structure with dates, no jazzy pictures or design work, list your achievements not responsibilities, hobbies etc can be dropped, two page max, etc… And most importantly write an amazing, tailored covering letter! UK and US work practises are pretty similar I think so I wouldn’t over think it too much :)

            1. Jen in RO*

              Pictures on resumes are very common in Eastern Europe, so it wasn’t a coincidence! (Also hobbies, marital status and DOB, with DOB being on 99% of them – a resume without a date would send out red flags).

    2. Sali*

      I’m from the UK and read this blog religiously, and from what I can gather it’s all exactly the same. Just check your spelling/colloquialisms. For job sites I’d say the big ones are Guardian Jobs (‘proper’ jobs here) and Gumtree (more spammy, it’s Craig’s List equivalent but very much widely used for the job market… and EVERYTHING else if you need somewhere to live, etc). Well done and welcome to the UK!

    3. Anony*

      From one US –> UK expat to another, congrats! I know how hard and stressful the visa process can be. Good luck with your job search!

    4. Schuyler Pierson*

      This is so exciting! I just found out that my area of higher ed has opportunities for working abroad, however few and far between they may be, and I love to hear another staff person who’s doing so. I hope we get to hear about your adventures in future open threads. :)

  32. Kristen44*

    Men, move one; this is for the women. Have any of you pumped at work? I think I just need some commiseration. It feels so weird to me! I walk by Support to get to my accounting storage room with a fridge (but at least they found somewhere for me). It shouldn’t be awkward that people know i’m pumping, yet it is to me. I feel like I am using up a bunch of work time to pump. I don’t want to switch to formula, and I feel guilty when I consider it. It’s been about 3 months of pumping now, and you’d think I’d be used to it by now, but it is still such a weird inconvenience! Anyone understand what I am going through?

    1. Just a Reader*

      I’m going to be dealing with this in a few months so no real-world advice yet, but I anticipate weirdness.

      There’s a mother’s room that I will use and I’m planning to just pump and work on my laptop (with tape over the webcam).

      I have seen pumping bras that let you be hands free. Maybe that would help? Or is the issue a dedicated space/feeling of privacy/being topless at work thing?

      1. Kristen44*

        Since I am in a storage closet, there’s no way I could do work even if I was hands-free. It’s really more of the second thing. As I walk by people, I think “Don’t mind me and my magic boobs, heading to my closet!” Plus, there is the pressure if I have meetings. I need X ounces for the baby, but it has to be between meetings . The pressure gives me performance anxiety (although the meeting thing doesn’t happen very much). I’m sure this is a much bigger deal in my head than to anyone else (and typing it out is kind of chilling me out). I work with a bunch of guys who probably don’t even notice my pump bag.

    2. EnnVeeEl*

      I pumped at work. It was a bit odd, but after a week or so, it just became routine. I did have one person make a remark about me storing milk in my cooler in the fridge and I just gave them a dirty look.

    3. AC*

      I’ll be pumping once I return to work after having my baby (4 weeks left!) But I can understand the feeling weird part already. I’m forcing myself to not think it’s that big of a deal so that when I do come back it won’t feel all that weird (hopefully).

      I’m also letting the other mothers who have pumped at work in the past few years be my guide. For some, they took the time as their break and let themselves rest, read a magazine, etc. Others used the time to catchup on the little work things that fall between the cracks: sorting through and answering some of their work email, they saved their reading/editing work for pumping time, or other “quiet-time” tasks. I figure I’ll do a combination of both of these things.

      And a friend who works in a lab had the double-hands-free pump thing that you attach to a bra (she had twins) and she swore by that thing. Obviously she couldn’t do lab-type work while using it, but she could read and edit reports and email while using it.

    4. Amy B.*

      I worked in a male dominated field and was the supervisor to three crews of men that worked outside all day but came in the office in the am and pm. I took the humor approach and put up a picture of a cow on my door when I was pumping. That way no one knocked on my door during the “milking”. Everyone in the office was good natured about it.

      I also get the guilt that you are going through about formula. You transition to formula any time you are ready and don’t let anyone tell you any different. We all have different reasons and yours is just as good as the next.

      1. Nichole*

        I have a coworker who pumped at work, and I very well may be in the same boat within the next few years, so I was fascinated by her “process.” She used to use a microwave sanitizing bag for her hand pump, and that’s the only reason I knew she was pumping at all. People don’t notice as much as you think they do. As a woman who nursed two kids, I second Amy: don’t feel guilty if you decide that supplementing with or switching to formula is best for you. I’ve seen studies (sorry, no reference!) that say babies that breastfeed for as little as 1 month get long term benefits. If no formula is the right thing for you, invest in an electric pump if you haven’t already. They get smaller, cleaner, and quieter all the time, and can really improve your closet time to milk ratio.

        1. Anonymous Pumper*

          “People don’t notice as much as you think they do.”

          Word. I had been pumping at work for several months (I used a locker room off one of the women’s restrooms in my building, because the “nursing room” was located in a different building) before anybody even asked any questions about the odd-shaped black canvas case I was carrying around with me. And when someone finally did, in a crowded break room, it was a male admin asking what kind of instrument I had taken up.

          I thoroughly enjoyed being able to go totally deadpan and say “It’s a breastpump, Wakeen.” OMG. The embarrassed expression on his face. I am still laughing 12 years later.

    5. Annon*

      I’m currently pumping at work (been back three weeks now) — I’m easily the youngest person in the office and my boss is my father’s age. It’s awkward. Here are a few observations:
      1. A trusted co-worker often runs interference for me if someone is looking for me while I’m pumping. She’s professional and polite, but makes sure I’m not disturbed or missed. She charmingly will say something like, “Annon is being a mom right now, can you come back in 20 minutes?”
      2. If anyone has asked me about it, it’s been do to genuine curiosity — not attempts to embarrass me.
      3. Everyone who has kids (or wants kids) as well as many who do not “gets it.”
      4. Aggressively block your calendar. Put buffers so if you have a tough time you have a little moment to relax.
      5. Put extra clothes in your desk in case you spill something.
      6. I constantly remind myself that I’m not the one who should be embarrassed. This is a loving act for my daughter. The less embarrassed I am about it, the less embarrassing it is for everyone.

      Hang in there — it’s worth it. No one will think twice about it after a few weeks.

    6. AnonAdmin*

      I pumped for 6 months at work, and was very fortunate in that I have my own office. I’d put up a “do not disturb, please” sign and lock my door. I had a hands-free bra so I could pump both breasts at once and still do work, and a mini fridge in my office that I kept my milk in. I threw a pashmina on while I was pumping because it helped me feel less weird about the whole ” boobs out at work” thing. As others have said, people don’t notice as much as you think. Most of my coworkers just assumed I was having lunch at my desk or on a conference call. And my pump and all the accoutrements came in a discreet black shoulder bag that just looked like a big purse.

      I also pumped in my car on my commute home, using a cigarette lighter power adapter. I hooked up in an empty parking lot, threw on the pashmina and off I went. I unhooked in another empty parking lot near my house. If you’re feeling weird in the office, you might find a secluded place and pump in your car instead.

      And as others have said, try not to feel guilty about formula or contemplating it. The most important thing is that the baby eats. :)

      1. Chinook*

        I had this image of you pumping in your car and getting pulled over in a regular checkstop. Could you imagine the conversations that would occur with the friendly cop once he realizes your boobs are hanging out?

      2. TheSnarkyB*

        I was reading too fast and pictured you using the cigarette lighter to light a cig and then stick in the pump adapter- 1960’s glam!! (=modern horror)

    7. Nerdling*

      Been there, done that. It does get less awkward (I pumped for about five months). I did end up supplementing and then going completely to formula. If you have to do that so your little one gets fed, then that’s what you have to do, which makes it the right choice in my book. Try not to feel guilty about it (easier said than done, I know).

    8. Rachel in Minneapolis*

      I’m so glad that you have an employer who is helping you make accommodations for pumping! Remember, this is really a retention strategy by the organization. By offering you the time and place to pump, they are increasing your chances of staying in your position and mothering the way you choose to. I say don’t be afraid of using your pumping breaks! Yes I have emailed and even done phone calls while pumping at work before (If you have a very quiet pump.) Don’t worry it won’t last forever. I found that my coworkers just wanted to know the logistics of how to best contact me and then were not very curious. I also found La Leche league to be a wonderful support for pumping mothers. Good luck!

      1. HRAnon*

        Um, no. Other than a very few exceptions, it is actually the law.

        “Employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”

  33. Ruffingit*

    I read a thread on Facebook today and I want to take each person who replied and smack them in the head. Repeatedly. Basic scenario:

    Woman gets job. She’s in the 90-day probationary period. She’s been there less than 60 days at this point. Her son was in an accident this week. He’s in the hospital. She was talking about trying to get time off to attend to her son.

    Many of the commenters mentioned FMLA. Many of them said things like “They HAVE to give you the time off and your job is protected by FMLA.”

    Others suggested that she sue the employer if they fire her for not being there because her son was in an accident.

    GAH. I know so many people hold these beliefs as evidenced by the “is that legal” letters here. But at least most of the “is that legal” letter writers have the sense to ASK if it’s legal rather than declaring that it’s not.

    1. A Bug!*

      I know exactly what you mean respecting how frustrating it is to see people give inaccurate and potentially harmful advice (especially to someone who is in fragile circumstances).

      If the person making the post is someone you know to be an understanding person you might want to add a post in there cautioning that FMLA doesn’t apply to all employment relationships and that she should look into the applicable laws before taking any unilateral actions that could harm her employment.

      I realize that a lot of the time posts like that aren’t well-received, especially by the people who’ve already given the bad advice (as they read your post as a criticism of theirs), so I wouldn’t blame you if you sat it out based on your knowledge of the people involved.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I went ahead and made a post correcting the bad information about FMLA. The woman dealing with her son’s accident has enough to deal with, I would hate for her to start thinking she can “man handle” her employer and cite laws that don’t exist for her situation is going to add to her troubles.

    2. Sabrina*

      I work for an insurance company that offers short & long term disability. I used to be in the claims area and had one for a woman who wanted disability due to recently adopting a child. She even wrote on the form that she wanted the STD that she was legally entitled to due to adopting a child. Thankfully I did not make the decisions on which claims to pay out b/c I did not want to have to call that woman up and explain the difference between FMLA & STD. A LOT of people don’t really understand FMLA.

      1. A Bug!*

        Or insurance, for that matter! It seems beyond some people’s understanding that different insurance plans cover different things.

        There has been some serious flooding in the Calgary area the past month, and I keep seeing news articles about people who are angry and baffled that they’re being denied coverage for their flood damage when their neighbors are getting approved.

        (And that’s another aggravating thing – people going to the media to complain about an issue they don’t properly understand, but the companies aren’t able to defend themselves because it would be a breach of client confidentiality.)

      2. Ruffingit*

        You are so right Sabrina. The amount of misunderstanding around FMLA is ridiculous. It’s incredible how many people think “It’s a law so it applies to everyone.” It’s also amazing how many people think you’re entitled to leave simply because a family member had a terrible accident so if they don’t give it to you, you can sue. GAH. One point I made on Facebook was this “Legal and fair are not always the same thing.”

        1. Jamie*

          And so many people I know think FMLA is paid.

          When applicable it protects your job, it doesn’t give you income while you’re out. So much misunderstanding out there about this.

          1. HR Competent*

            And as HR who has to administer/clarify FMLA I find many meet it with distrust as some sort of employer conspiracy.

      3. Sandy*

        I work in HR and administer our FMLA. It’s amazing what people think FMLA is. I have people who think it’s paid and then people who fight tooth and nail to not be on the “FMLA list”, like it’s a bad thing. I try to explain to them that it’s there for their protection, it’s a pain in the a** for the company and doesn’t help us at all. It baffles me how people just don’t want to get on some mythical list when the purpose is to protect their job.

        1. RJ*

          I’m on intermittent FMLA now for my parent’s serious medical condition and, while I’m grateful to know that my job is protected and that FMLA absences don’t apply to our attendance policy, it doesn’t make much difference in my day-to-day work. My company requires that we use all available PTO for FMLA absences, once I exhaust my PTO those hours away are unpaid, and my work is still sitting here waiting for me when I get into the office. Oh, joy!

          1. fposte*

            Sure, but FMLA is essentially about *not* making a difference day to day, in that the big day-to-day difference is losing your job when your PTO runs out. And since those of us with PTO were already ahead of the game, we were less affected by FMLA than those who don’t have any PTO.

        2. tcookson*

          I missed over six weeks of work awhile back when my daughter’s appendix burst. I had over 9 weeks of sick leave saved up and another 5 weeks of vacation saved up when I took off, so I wasn’t in any danger of using up all my leave, but I appreciated it when our HR department emailed to let me know that I could fill out FMLA paperwork just in case.

          Actually, I was initially a little freaked out when I got their email, because I thought they were saying that I didn’t have the accumulated time that I knew I had. But they reassured me that it was just a form letter to let me know that I could use FMLA if I needed to, and THEN I appreciated that they contacted me.

    3. Jessa*

      There is no way FMLA comes into play with that few hours. The person in question is not entitled to it. 90 days in no way passes the bar of – you need to have been there a year and worked over 1250 hours by the way the government calculates hours, and you need to work for a company with more than 50 employees.

    4. Brton3*

      I sort of had an opposite issue recently, where my friend was telling me about how many extra shifts he had been picking up in his new job, and I said “wow, you must be getting into some great overtime!” and he basically said they don’t really do overtime, and anyway overnight shifts are counted differently and blah blah…and I was like “no no no, if it’s more than 4o hours it’s overtime. There are no ‘different hours’ or any of that.” And he resisted and resisted, never contemplating that his org might be doing something wrong (even accidentally).

      1. Ruffingit*

        You’d think he’d be happy to know he could be getting a ton more money for the overnight shifts. But then that would require that he confront his employer so maybe he just didn’t want to deal with that.

        Either way, +1 to you Brton3 for trying to educate him on the ways of the working world. One person at a time…

  34. evilintraining*

    Feeling not so great about my job. Been there less than 3 months, and it’s already looking like it’s not a good place to be. I love the job, but since I’ve been there, I’ve been told by everyone I work with that there’s no structure, no review process, and no raises. The owner is pretty dysfunctional: he sets procedures then changes them 2 months later, doesn’t listen to anyone’s ideas, and on and on. His wife is the HR person, so no help there. The job is also different from what I was hired to do, and I have way too much downtime. Do I have to stick it out for at least a year? If not, what should I tell an employer if they ask why I’m already looking? Any advice greatly appreciated.

    1. Felicia*

      That sounds identical to my last job, including what the owner does and that his wife is the HR person. It was also a totally different job than what I was hired for , no structure or review process, too much down time etc. I’m not sure I handled it well (And I was let go after 4 months because while I could have done the job I was hired for, the job they had me doing I wasn”t very good at). But since it’s been so short, can you take the job off your resume entirely until you’ve been there 6 months? What I did was get a very relevant to my field volunteer position and put that on my resume instead, so I still had relevant experience. I don’t think there’s a good answer, but I know I couldn’t have stayed somewhere like that for a year. You have my empathy. IMO saying the job you were doing is drastically different than what you were hired for, especially if you’re looking for something like you were hired for, would be a good reason but some employers might disagree.

    2. Lindsay J*

      If you don’t have any other short-term jobs in your recent job history I would start looking now.

      If you do already have short-term jobs on your resume, having another one might make you look like a flight risk. However, ultimately your sanity is more important so if you’re absolutely dreading going to work every day or are stressed out and miserable I would still start looking and just know that you might be taking a hit in how reliable you appear to prospective employers.

      For what to say, I would tell employers that you were looking for a job that uses more of your skills in “X” (where X is what you thought you were being hired for), while your current position involves more “Y” (whatever you’re actually doing) and that you’re really eager to get back to doing X.

      You might also throw is something about looking for somewhere where you can progress in the company and carve out a long-term career (since I’m assuming that if there is no review process and no raises there is also not a good culture of developing employees and promoting from within.) Of course I would only say this if it is actually true, and if the company you are interviewing with does seem value employee development.

  35. Sabrina*

    Warning: This is my monthly open thread freak-out post regarding my pending graduation and fear of finding a job. I will finish school in less than a month. YIKES. Most job postings I see want 2-3 years minimum experience and I don’t have any in that field (though I have worked full time for 15+ years). The only suggestions I get are to volunteer, freelance, or intern. So, I do these things part time for six years to get three years of total experience? Why did I even bother going back to school then? UGH Sorry guys, I’m super stressed out about this.

    1. Felicia*

      I had that fear before I graduated a year ago and although I probably will make you more scared, it never really goes away. No idea what field you’re going into and that makes a difference, but most of the people I graduated with are still volunteering, interning, freelancing or doing something in a totally unrelated field (or retail, a lot do retail now). So I guess I’m super stressed out that it’s ALWAYS going to be like this. Most “entry level” jobs I see also say minimum 2-3 years experience required…I did a very relevant part time on campus job and one internship while still in school and that helped a bit, but not enough.

      1. Sabrina*

        My major is called eMarketing, so online marketing, SEO, pay per click ads, that sort of thing. I do have a job now, but it’s totally unrelated. Part of me wonders if I should just quit my job and freelance full time and get experience that way. My husband has a job and insurance so that’s covered. BUT adding to all of this is that I would really like to move closer to home and I don’t see how I can justify up and moving to another state to freelance. Especially since that state’s cost of living is higher than where we are now and their unemployment rate is higher, which would make it harder for my husband to find a job, but once he did he’d probably make more money doing it.

        1. Lindsay*

          I’ve been un- and under-employed for a lot of the last few years, graduating with my masters two years ago now. While I worried a LOT about getting real-life work experience in my field of study, my goal lowered to just being able to support myself in a job with room for growth.

          Technically I’m still under-employed, but through persistence I’m in my field of study now. And I’m in a job where I’m able to take part in projects that make use of the skills I gained through studying for my masters. This is a great stepping stone, though not my ideal.

          So, maybe don’t worry too much about getting an entire full-time job in your field. Maybe apply for jobs that will incorporate your skills at least part of the time. That way, you’re getting the “real world” experience and you can put that on your resume to help you land the job you really want.

          Also, look at the worst case scenario with moving – what’s the worst that could happen if you did move? Could you live with friends for a while? Could you find freelancing work now to help the transition? You could move first and establish an address in your new town, and your husband could follow. You also might be able to get unemployment for your husband, some states will give it to you if you move. Tough choices, but good luck!

        2. AP*

          Can you traffic ads? Can you learn how to? Do you have any interest in that type of work? If so, COME ON DOWN to New York and you will be hired within 30 and a half seconds.

  36. Emma*

    I recently started a new job about 6 weeks ago and what I hoped would be a really exciting opportunity has turned into much less than that. I’ve struggled with depression on and off over the years but during the time since I started this job I have become severely depressed. It took me a long time to find this job (8+ months) so I’m afraid to quit without having something else lined up. At the same time I don’t know how much longer I can go on feeling like this. Do I try to stick it out while I search for something else or just let it go (which will put me in a really bad financial situation)? On another note does anyone else out there have advice on dealing with depression while working? I’ve had a hard time with that (clearly…) ugh.

    1. Anonymous*

      Oh, geez, I’m so sorry – and I’m struggling with the same thing right now. Literally researching therapists right now (haven’t been going since I moved cross-country about 10 months ago). Hang in there!

    2. fposte*

      It’s not clear–do you think it’s the nature of the job that’s increasing your depression, or is it something else? If it’s the stresses of working (which can be very different than the stresses of job hunting), a new job isn’t going to improve things. I would certainly encourage you to run your question past a therapist before you made the decision to help clarify the likelihood of getting any gain from this action.

      Your health is important, but as you probably know our brains can lie to us when we’re not doing so well, so getting a sympathetic professional perspective on what really is likely to be helpful is your best bet. If finances are a problem for that, check first to see if your organization has an EAP, and then to see if there’s any low-cost or sliding-scale therapy available near you. might be helpful for finding a local support group, too. Good luck! It’s a tough spot and I hope things get better for you.

    3. Making Plans*

      I wouldn’t recommend leaving without having something lined up that will at least provide you the necessities. Does your company have an EAP? If so, take advantage of it! If not, find a friend or a mentor on your personal Board of Directors to seek some advice. What are the triggers for your depression? Are your thoughts and beliefs lining up with what it takes for you to succeed in your job and in your life? See the thread up above on PTSD @ work and that may help as well.

      1. Emma*

        Thanks for the ideas everyone. I think it’s the hours that have contributed to my depression and that I work at a residential treatment center (I get the irony..). I work two overnights a week and 2 days (which are both weekend days). When I was hired initially this wasn’t what I had signed up for. I was originally hired for two daytime shifts that would be during the week and then when I showed up for my first day my boss said that the shifts had changed and those weren’t available anymore. She said this would be temporary but when I asked her this week how temporary she said she had no idea. I don’t really have a life right now because of the hours and don’t have access to the EAP since I’m not full-time. The off schedule has made it so I never see my friend etc outside of work because they don’t have the same schedule. Being that isolated I think has triggered me a lot. I’ll definitely look into the low-cost therapy though-thanks for that tip!

        1. fposte*

          Oh, I can definitely see why that’s a problem–even physiologically that’s a tough schedule (I bet your sleep’s pretty disrupted these days, which is like losing a wheel right there).

          I think if you can find weekday shifts elsewhere it’s totally kosher to leave for them, and it’s perfectly legitimate to say that you’re leaving your former position because you’re currently only available for weekdays. I think a therapist would still be useful in evaluating the quit now/hang on until the new job question; it might also be helpful to talk to more experienced people in the field in your locality to have an idea of whether 8 months is a likely search time again.

          Good luck! I’m sorry that what looked like an open door turned out to lead to a set of tall stairs, but just take it one step at a time.

        2. TheSnarkyB*

          Oh geez, PM shifts can be awful for this sort of thing. Maybe talk to a therapist about some foods and vitamins that may help at least with the sleep aspect of it. Things like melatonin, b complex, and energy foods could make your non-work days better enough to get you through a job search.

        3. FRRibs*

          So you work two day shifts and two night shifts every week? That is terrible and the literature about people who work nights, let alone jumping back and forth like that, makes it sound like a death sentence to one’s health. As someone who lost everything in part at least to night hours (7p to 7A for 9 years+)…if you can make rent and groceries in any other job, jump ship and never do nights again. Your mental, physical, and social health will all thank you.

        4. Lindsay J*

          I just have to say I sympathize. I worked night shift for years and while it was actually better for my sleep cycle (I’m somewhat naturally nocturnal) it is so very isolating.

          When all my friends were just getting finished from their 9-5 jobs and wanting to go out for dinner or drinks I was getting ready to go in to work. On my days off I slept all day because that is what my body was used to, so getting up to run errands or even do things like going to the doctor’s or getting a hair-cut was a struggle. Then I would be awake all night when nothing was open, my friends were sleeping, and there was nothing for me to do but stay up for hours on the computer or watching TV. I missed watching all the major sporting events and prime-time shows because I was working when they were on. My parents also gave me crap for being “lazy” because all they saw was that I was sleeping all the time. Yes, I was sleeping all day but I was working 70-80 hours a week at night!

          You basically feel like you’re on a different planet than everyone else. I also struggle with depression (as well as social anxiety) and working nights certainly didn’t help anything.

          One thing I also struggled with was vitamin D deficiency because I was never out in the sunlight. I got bloodwork done because even after being treated for depression I was overwhelmingly tired all the time, and they found that I was severely vitamin D deficient. They gave me mega-pills to take once a week to supplement my vitamin D levels and that helped a lot.

    4. Bee*

      This sounds very similar to what my roommate was going through about eight months ago. (With her, it was something much more akin to anxiety than depression, and not clinically diagnosed, but still severe.) It has now been eight months since she quit, she still has no work opportunities lined up, and her savings are fast running out. However, her mood and her overall health have greatly improved since she quit.

      So I guess my advice would be, take a good, long look at your situation, and decide whether you can stick it out while you look for a better job, or if job-searching while stressed and depressed is not an option? Because I could imagine trying to job-search, go on interviews, etc. WHILE handling the stress and the depression would be very difficult indeed.

    5. coconutwater*

      Your health is much more important than any job. My hope for you is that you find a good Therapist who will help you through this process.

      Your employer pulled the classic ” bait and switch ” move on you which is not fair to you at all.

      I have experience with working while depressed. I kept pushing myself which was a huge mistake. I should have listened to what my body was telling me.

    6. Calla*

      I’m prone to depression and a few years back I was in a terrible job. What I did was aim low, so I found a retail job that let me make just enough to get by, and then I quit the other job immediately. I was much, much happier (in fact that retail job is still one of my favorite past jobs ever), and it was tough money-wise, but of course better than straight-up quitting, and I was able to make it until I found another full-time office job. You may already be looking for anything, but if not, if you’re just looking for similar jobs, maybe doing what I did is something you can look into.

      I second everyone saying look into low-cost/sliding scale therapy. Look into community resources, you may even be able to find free of charge counseling.

      Let yourself take care of yourself. Take the full break you’re allowed no matter what (I was sometimes tempted to work through lunch; getting away and reading a book is important and healthier). If you have access to a computer at work, let yourself do something like have 5 minutes of watching videos on the site Cute Roulette (cute animal videos). Make sure you’re sleeping (aside from those overnights…) and eating right. That kind of thing.

      Good luck!

  37. Kelly O*

    Good news everyone! I got a new job. I mentioned it on the LinkedIn group, but was looking for the monthly open thread to share with those of you who may not be over there.

    My last day here in Cowboy Purgatory is next Friday, and I am reviewing all my procedures lists and getting ready to transition all my stuff over to my co-worker. (Although I wish y’all could be a fly on the wall when she is trying to learn all this stuff. This is the Infamous Co-worker who you may or may not recognize from other comments.)

    Thanks to all of you for your kind words, kicks in the rear when needed, and offers of leads! This community is really kind of awesome.

    1. Jamie*

      Yay Kelly, that is awesome! I’m so happy for you – I hope it’s everything this one wasn’t.

    2. fposte*

      Oh, Kelly, that is EXCELLENT news. If you get a going away cake, you should totally swoop in just before your soon-to-be-ex-coworker cuts herself a slice and take it all away with you. Congratulations!

    3. Editor*

      Excellent. Congratulations. I hope the new job is great and your co-workers are awesome.

    4. Pussyfooter*

      Yay! I remember when I read that you had to leave without a new job yet, and wondered how it would go for you! Glad things are looking good!

      1. Houstongirl*

        That’s great Kelly!! Congrats and I wish you the best at your new job. I may bet totally wrong about this, but I thought I read something at one time about you being in Houston. I am in Houston as well and doing the job hunt thing right now so if you have any leads or tips for the area, I’d appreciate it. I’m more in NW Houston, but willing to work anywhere at this point. Job hunting is horrible. :(

        1. Kelly O*

          At least you’re on the west side generally. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I found tons of things in the Energy Corridor/Katy area, or even up 249 or 290. It’s just too far with traffic from Kingwood.

          I was looking Downtown, north up 45 to The Woodlands, and then eastward. I actually found this through an agency (the same one I had the super-weird interaction with, of all things.)

  38. RLS*

    Question about a job posting on Craigslist:

    Assistant GM position at a tiny little resort in an area that I REALLY want to move to. It’s in my field, it’s definitely within my abilities, and I think I’d bring a lot to the company. The ad specifically states no phone calls but it was posted 2 weeks ago…and we all know how CL posters are about actually removing ads of any kind once the subject is no longer available or relevant. Apply anyway? I won’t call, but I really want to know if it’s actually available!

    1. nyxalinth*

      Nothing to lose by trying, except the bit of time it takes for a cover letter, etc.

    2. Natalie*

      Do they have a website where the same ad might be posted? That is more likely to be updated than Craigslist.

    3. fposte*

      Apply anyway! You’re really interested. Nothing to lose but cover letter prep time, and wouldn’t you kick yourself if you skipped it? Most job searches are open longer than two weeks, especially when there’s a holiday in one of the weeks.

    4. Lindsay J*

      I’m pretty sure you and I are in the same industry – amusements. Is the resort in the state of Texas?

  39. LV*

    I just wanted to share my happiness (or brag, whichever way you want to look at it!) – I just had my first performance evaluation at my new job, 3 months in, and my boss said she is very satisfied with my performance.

    Her only negative comment was that I sometimes need to pay closer attention to detail. (I’ve been occasionally guilty of letting little things slip by because we’re in the process of changing our procedures for a whole bunch of stuff, and with the rules changing every day it can be hard to tell which way a specific operation has to be done.)

    Unfortunately it’s a temporary position with no real chance of becoming permanent, but at least I’ll get a glowing reference if I keep it up :)

    1. Wilton Businessman*


      Following up seems to be an issue for a lot of people. In today’s world people often are multi-tasking different projects and it is easy for things to fall through the cracks. Your stock as an employee will rise if you become someone that your boss can trust. The greatest compliment I ever received was my boss told me “I don’t worry about xyz because I know you will get it done.”

  40. Ali*

    I have happy news too! My company, who I’ve been with three years and has always classified me and my team members as contractors, is finally getting ready to switch us to employee status! Salary, benefits, all that good stuff…I feel like such an adult now! We all have to go on a three month trial period like you would when starting with any other company, but it’s still such good news and something we’ve all been waiting for! Now I may finally have some money (and maybe a benefit) to go back to school and take some classes to gain more skills. (Yes, I know grad school isn’t necessary, but there are some things I should know for my field that undergrad didn’t teach me, so I want to get brushed up.) Yay!

  41. Cake Wad*

    Anyone in higher ed hiring out there? I’m wondering if you could help me understand exactly how detrimental my current employer is to my job search…

    I work for a tiny, unheard-of, for-profit, online college. While we’re not guilty of the things you see in the news about the big for-profits, the sector’s (rightfully earned) bad reputation could be bad for me. My position is on the academic side, not the evil business side, and I have gotten some great skills in my 10+ years at the organization. But I fear that applying to jobs at non-profits will be fruitless (it has been so far) because of my organization. Is that fear justified? Is there anything I can do to help myself look better to “real” colleges/universities?

    1. fposte*

      When you say “academic side,” do you mean teaching or do you mean academic professional stuff, and when you say that you’re looking at non-profits, do you mean just colleges/universities or are you looking more broadly?

      I think some skills are more transferably saleable than others. I think for communications, for instance, it wouldn’t matter all that much because doing straight business communications would be a legitimate background too. Teaching, on the other hand, would be a tough sell. It’s also a tight market, so it’s possible that it’s not your for-profit experience that’s been the bar. I also think this would be a good time for you to network at a relevant conference and get some opinions from people who are hiring at the kind of places that you want to work, both about your question and about your application package generally.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, duh. I just realized you meant non-profits in contrast to for-profits. “Never mind.”

      2. Cake Wad*

        Thanks, fposte! I agree, I really need to up my networking.

        By “academic side,” picture a position akin to Dean of Academic Affairs. I don’t teach, but I manage our programs, curriculum, and faculty on a very intimate level. I do everything from instructional design to institutional research to outcomes assessment and more.

    2. Lindsay*

      I work in academia (public uni), but I’m more of a peon. In our job searches for other…peons…the skills mattered and whether the institution was for-profit/non-profit did not. We interviewed someone at a for-profit school and it wasn’t even brought up that it was for-profit.

      It might also be a plus that your school is unknown, because at least your school in particular doesn’t have a bad rap. You could also focus on “selling” the school’s positive aspects if they serve an under-served group or something.

      I really think that you just have to focus on promoting your skills and the for-profit thing won’t be that big of a deal. As long as you’re read-up on issues facing public institutions for when you make it to the interview, I think you’ll be OK. Good luck!!

    3. Schuyler Pierson*

      It’s funny that you say the “evil business side”… because the staff members in my office have the same attitude of for-profits in general; not better or worse depending upon whether you’re an actual professor or a staff member. (In fact, in our most recent hiring stint in the last few weeks, those who had degrees from places like Argosy or Kaplan or National-Louis were remarked upon by some of my coworkers as not having a degree from a “real college”, regardless of whether it was a BA, MA or PhD.)

      Yes, there is a stigma and people at non-profits think they’re better than those at for-profits. Not a great attitude, but it’s there. However, my department has gone through hiring twice in the last couple years, and both times my boss has had no problem interviewing people who worked at for-profits. It’s possible people won’t realize the status unless it comes up or they look into it themselves – for instance, Roosevelt University here in Chicago is a for-profit, but I didn’t realize that until a couple years ago.

      If you have a strong feeling (or know outright) that this keeping you from getting into a for-profit, then is it something you can address in your cover letter? Several of the people we interviewed in this last round had worked at for-profits, and their resumes looked really bad to me. But they explained in their interview that they were laid off when they didn’t meet enrollment goals, which made sense – I just wish they’d addressed it in a cover letter because had I been the one selecting those for interviews, none of them would have made the cut.

      I also am kind of impressed you’ve been there so long. It seems like most I’ve met who worked at a for-profit was there for a year or less – even those who who were at an Associate Director level or something.What is it that makes you want to move on?

      1. Cake Wad*

        Thanks so much for your insights! I have sort of half-acknowledged the for-profit-ness in some recent cover letters with lines like, “My institution is small and career-oriented, but with over a decade of experience in instructional technology and program development at this level, I…”

        I want to move on partly because of the “evil business side.” Some structural and financial changes have the potential to greatly diminish the academic outcomes. Also, I’ve recently finished my Master’s, so I’m now more hirable by the “real” colleges I’d love to work for (there are some really prestigious ones in my area) than I was previously.

        1. Kiribitz*

          Late, but perhaps this will help (I’ve been saving this post & replies for a time when I could fully savor it):

          Goes by Dean Dad, made the transition a while ago from for profit to community college in the admin side. Aka: Matt Reed

  42. nyxalinth*

    Well, here’s my official post for the month.

    Job hunting is getting very depressing for me. The usual advice (venting, counseling. etc.) really isn’t working. I feel pretty badly about it overall. But on the bright side, I’m finally going to start volunteering. I figure I have no income either way, so why not be doing something while having no income? :P Plus, Law of Perversity says once I start, I’ll probably find a paying job immediately.

    Now, a question.

    How often do people really turn down a candidate for not enough experience, versus it being a catch-all excuse? I wonder because my last half dozen or so interviews, they went with other people citing “You don’t have enough/the right experience.”

    Now, I want to say, if I even think I might not have what someone is looking for, I don’t bother sending in a resume. When I do, I make absolutely sure that I have what the ad is asking for. Inevitably, I get into the interview, and they always seem to want someone who hasn’t worked in call centers (which is very clear on my resume) versus customer service in a smaller, more office-y setting. Or they want specific industry experience (such as construction). Or the ad doesn’t say jack-all about wanting someone who has experience taking calls, having three chat windows open, and tap dancing while making chocolate tea pots at the same time (my most recent interview). Or they played up the traditional customer service aspect, but the job really calls for a telemarketing whiz. Or this. Or that. Or the other thing.

    1. Why don’t they just say what they want in the ad to begin with?

    2. Why am I called for an interview if they want xyz and I have abc ? The (rather rude) guy at my last interview seemed really put out that whoever had screened the resumes for him thought I’d be right for the job (which required the multitasking that even a Hindu god would be hard-pressed to keep up with, and construction experience I’d mentioned, neither of which I have). I’m glad I get interviews, it just seems like the reverse of job-seekers throwing their resume at anything and everything to see what sticks, is all.

    3. Is it okay to ask when called for an interview “I saw in your ad that you’re looking for abc. As mentioned, I have those skills and experience, but are there any skills not mentioned that are important to the position as well?” (When the guy called for the aforementioned interview, he asked me of my background, seemed fine, and brought me in.)

    I would love any advice. I’m at my wit’s end :(

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Are you being told you don’t have the right experience or that other people’s experience was a better fit? The latter is often a catch-all excuse (although often true as well), whereas the former is usually NOT a catch-all and probably true if they’re saying it.

      1. nyxalinth*

        A bit of both, I do know the “blah blah better fit” is the catch-all, but I mostly hear the “You didn’t have enough of the right experience/the experience we’re looking for.” Which I can understand, but really, I do my best to make sure that what I’m applying for matches the skills I have!

        Also, is it okay to ask about ‘hidden’ requirements that go unmentioned, but that they’re also wanting, that are important?

      2. nyxalinth*

        Oh, and why do they not state in the ad exactly what they’re looking for? If they want someone with chocolate teapot design, but the ad says chocolate teapot customer service…why not include that they also want some design skills? Maybe I expect too much?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I hate this–I ran into it when I was looking, too. I honestly think that a lot of companies give that to someone who doesn’t really know how to write job ads. I learned to ask lots of questions in the phone screens–especially about accounting, which I can’t do–to make sure I wasn’t wasting my time.

          1. nyxalinth*

            Glad to know it isn’t just me. that makes me feel a bit better. I’m going to stop taking the ad at face value and probe deeper, just like a good interviewer will do with us. thanks!

          2. Frenchie*

            Friend recently went to an interview that played a bit like this
            “Our ad said we were looking for specific marketing skills abc and we want someone with a marketing diploma. By the way, do you also happen to be a graphic designer ? We really wanted someone who was halfsies graphic designer”.

        2. Rana*

          I think some of it is that the job ads aren’t always written by the hiring manager or team, some of it is that their sense of what they want changes between when the ad was posted and when they get around to interviewing, some is that Big Cheese #3 has a bee in her bonnet about certain skills being “essential” even though they’re not actually part of the job, some is that they’re re-using boilerplate for a job that has since changed…

          Or, simply, it’s because people are human and don’t always know what they want until they see a bunch of what they don’t want.

          It doesn’t make it any less frustrating, though!

          (One positive thought, however: knowing that this happens, you might consider being less restrictive in your own job search – that job that seems like an ill fit might be a better fit than you realize, for this very reason.)

    2. Lindsay J*

      A lot of places seem to disguise telemarketing as customer service. It annoys me because it is a waste of my time to apply and interview for a job only to find out that it is something almost completely different than what I thought I was applying for.

      I love providing good customer service and will gladly do a customer service job, however I just don’t have the personality for telemarking and it would be a bad fit for me. I’m not going to agree to do a telemarketing job just because you tricked me into applying and interviewing, and I don’t really see why companies would want to hire somebody who would shrug their shoulders and go “yeah well that’s not what I applied for but, hey, it’s a job so I’ll work it” rather than somebody who is seeking out and has skills in that particular position.

      1. nyxalinth*

        Exactly. Especially with unemployment the way it is still, why the desire to lie about it? There’s an insurance company here in Denver that keeps running an ad for ‘customer service’. I’d sent them my resume, and found out it was really outside sales. I asked why they said it was customer service. “Because every now and then you get incoming calls…”

        Nope. I can buy a Frosty at Wendy’s, but it doesn’t make it an ice cream parlor.

  43. FarFromBreton*

    This is one I’ve been considering sending in, but a variety of opinions/experiences would probably be even more helpful.

    When applying to multiple positions at the same organization or company, how much must the cover letters vary?

    In my case, I’m applying to a few quite different positions with a contractor in a very unique location, as well as a few nearly-identical positions at one large profit (but sometimes in different locations). My cover letters tend to be very detailed/targeted, so I don’t know if it’s worth it to rewrite essentially the same information/points for variety’s sake. On the other hand, I don’t want to look lazy.

    1. fposte*

      I think they can be pretty similar for the nearly identical positions at the one company (though don’t do anything stupid like say how much you’d love to be in Boston in one and be in New York in the other). In the first one, I’d say the letters need to be tailored to the position, and that you can’t then use practically similar ones for any two jobs there because it looks like you ran out of steam.

      But I wonder about the lots of different jobs thing–are you casting your net too indiscriminately there anyway?

      1. FarFromBreton*

        Thank you for the advice!

        The one with a lot of different jobs is an unusual case–it’s working in Antarctica, where you practically have to get hired to even go there. A lot of people apply for pretty much everything and will take jobs way outside of or below their usual work just to go. I had the chance to talk to a recruiter a few days ago because of issues I was having with their site, and he encouraged me to apply for any position I thought I was at all qualified for. I’m definitely going to totally rewrite the qualifications part of each cover letter, but the “why I want to go to Antarctica” part doesn’t change much based on the position.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, I’m a huge Antarctic fan, and I kind of desperately want to go to Antarctica and I kind of don’t, but I’m still fascinated by the possibility. Have you read Nicholas Johnson’s Big Dead Place?

          1. FarFromBreton*

            People keep asking why I’d want to, and it’s hard to articulate–I have some good, concrete reasons, but there is also “penguins!” and “why not?”

            No, I haven’t read that! It looks really interesting, though. And the author committed suicide in December and James Gandolfini was working on an adaptation on it for HBO–almost spooky.

            1. fposte*

              Whoa, and I missed those tidbits. Thanks for the update!

              By the way, what’s in your avatar? It looks like hamentashen, but there’s nothing particularly Breton about hamentashen, so I was unsure.

              1. FarFromBreton*

                It is hamentashen! You’re right that they aren’t breton, besides that I made that batch while living in Brittany. I chose that picture mostly because it was colorful and easily distinguishable even at a small size. I did once make a far breton, too, but the result wasn’t worth photographing.

  44. Buddy*

    I had been looking to relocate to another city so I was searching for another job. After job searching for a few months, I finally decided to take a job. I was hestitant to take this job because it wasn’t my dream job, but did so I could finally be closer to family.

    However, now having worked at this job for just over a month, I am really not enjoying it and want to start searching for another job in the same field. Now that I am living here, I am hoping that it will not take as long to find another job.

    My question: Do I put this new place of employment on my resume or not? Should I put it on my resume and address the reason why I am leaving in my cover letter? I don’t want potential employers to think I am “job hopping,” but I do want them to notice that I am now living here and am still getting more experience in my field. Thoughts? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      If the new place of employment is in your field, then yes, I’d put it on the resume.

      I would not address why you are leaving in the cover letter. If asked to interview, you will be asked the question of why you are wanting to leave so soon. Have a good answer. BTW, “I was hestitant to take this job because it wasn’t my dream job, but did so I could finally be closer to family.” is not a good answer.

        1. fposte*

          That’ll help, especially if you have more before that that are 3+ years too. I’m with Wilton in thinking that at least here the explanation for the current departure isn’t great, so that does make you sound a little job-hoppery and you should sharpen up the justification.

          I’d say if it’s not the first one in your field you can probably leave it off for the next month or so, but after that you’ll be better off including it than having a gap.

  45. Brooke*

    I have been keeping up with AAM since about October 2012. I love this site. It has such great information. I almost always agree with what Alison has to say and love to read her responses as she is so knowledgeable and level-headed (and blunt, which I love). But I have also loved reading other people’s comments, ideas, and opinions and find so many of them very helpful and knowledgeable as well. I’m just curious if you guys would be willing to share what field you’re in? I have a lot of respect for so many of you and would love to know what type of work you guys are in…

    For anyone wondering, I’m an office manager at a small pediatric office.

    1. RLS*

      I work in (select all that apply): amusements, aquatics, tourism, hospitality, entertainment. Any combination thereof. Right now I supervise a waterpark, and there pretty much isn’t anything I don’t/can’t do.


      1. FD*

        I hear you, man. You work in hospitality long enough and the weird just starts to not faze you anymore.

      2. Lindsay J*

        Another amusements person here. I’ve spent the last ten years of my life in the industry in one position or another. I was a cash control supervisor at a Six Flags park from 2005-last year, and then I worked at a small amusement park in Texas as an admissions/cash room/parking/GR/IA/LP supervisor (manager in everything but title – including getting paid like one) for about 6 months.

        After awhile working those positions nothing surprises you anymore. I kind of love that there is something different every day.

        Right now I’m working as a photographer at an Old Time Photo studio. I’m really liking it because I still feel like I’m in the amusements industry – I’m doing something where my sole purpose is to bring a smile to people’s faces, and it’s something they do usually as a special occasion – but I’m indoors and out of the heat and I’m not working the typical amusement industry hours. (I had off on the 4th of July!) I also haven’t dealt with an angry guest since March!

        1. FD*

          Actually, it’s a good job! I’m just ready to start looking for a management position because I think I’ve done about as much as I can at that level.

          My company provides benefits to full-timers, which is genuinely awesome. Health insurance that can actually be afforded at an entry-level job is not to be shunned.

    2. Trudy*

      Currently, HR, but I’m trying to transition into teaching law, either at the undergraduate or law school levels.

    3. Chinook*

      Formally licencsed and trained as secondary education teacher, most recent expereince as an Admin Assistant in various industries and currently working on a temp to permanent position as a contract administrator (a.k.a. paper monkey a.k.a. annoying chihuahua nipping at the heels of engineers to get their paperwork done) in the oil & gas sector. As an added bonus, I have worked in Japan, Alberta, Ontario (while living in Quebec) and Nova Scotia. My resume, as described by one interviewer, makes it look like I am on the run from the law!

    4. Another English Major*

      Legal Assistant. Before that I was a tutor, and before that I was in hospitality (restaurants mostly).

    5. Amanda*

      I’m a bit of a hodgepodge (which probably contributed to my difficulty in finding a job). I classify myself as in the non-profit field, with a specific interest in international development/relations. I currently work for a student exchange org (and love it) but it’s only a seasonal position so I’m going to be relaunching the job search this coming week.

      1. tcookson*

        When you are published you have to let us know — I will totally buy your book. I know a couple of people who say they are going to write books (and I believe that they will eventually) — I really, really want to read a book that is written by someone I “know”!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          LOL don’t worry; I will. So far I’ve written four, and they go like this:

          **Really crappy crime novel I wrote in high school (trunk novel, because it stays in the trunk). >_<
          **Dark Knight fanfic (only one, and it's in the trunk also, because copyrights).
          **Complete original rewrite of the fanfic, about a bank robber who falls for his hostage, chased by a jealous serial killer and frustrated detective; this one is being critiqued by a pro at the mo. I'm hoping at some point I can publish this one, because I want the detectives to be series characters.
          **Paranormal novel I just finished. This one may have potential–maybe. I need to do some physics research on this one *bangs head on wall*

    6. Lalaith*

      Currently (and hopefully for the foreseeable future!) a web developer, but I’ve also been a bank teller, psych researcher, and in social services.

      1. Schuyler Pierson*

        This is super cool. I want to work in arts administration… but I was more focused on music. For the last year I’ve been working with an ushering organization, so I’m lucky to have that as an awesome outlet.

    7. Editor*

      University communications and newspaper journalism, with editing and writing freelance work on the side.

    8. 22dncr*

      Former Ballet Dancer – retired. Currently Contract Specialist for State but want to get out & back to Contract Administration in Engineering. And, actually I’ve done everything in an Office. Worked for too many start-ups in Silicon Valley! Had one interview guy (new to the Valley so clueless about how it was there) ask me “Do you know what you want to do?”

    9. Calla*

      I’m an admin in a healthcare company, recently also the unofficial marketing/events person for our department! Previously I was a legal admin.

    10. tcookson*

      Admin assistant at a public university academic department with about 20 faculty members; I assist the department head and provide admin support for the faculty.