open thread

photo 3It’s our biweekly open thread! (I’m experimenting with open threads every other Friday since they’re so popular.)

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.

Above: SHE FELL ASLEEP LIKE THIS. (Foster kitten, 1 pound, 6 ounces. Click to enlarge!) 

{ 792 comments… read them below }

  1. no-offer*

    What a sweet kitten!

    I have a situation I hope others will have some insight on. I relocated to a new state three months ago and have been applying to a couple different types of jobs. There is one role in particular that I think is the best match for my skills and career goals, however in four months I have only seen four appropriate openings. Of those four, I have been interviewed for three. I made it to the second (final) round of interviews for two, and the only round of interviews for the third. I was rejected from the first two and I’m steeling myself for a rejection from the third.

    Am I foolish to pin my hopes on getting a job in this particular role, considering how few openings I’ve seen? I’m applying to other types of jobs but not getting responses, so it seems like this role is the better fit for me, but I am concerned about how small the market seems.

    How many interviews without offers before I should question my interviewing skills? I think I’m interviewing well since I’m advancing to the second round stage, but I’d like to improve if I can and I’m having a hard time finding resources that aren’t on the obvious don’ts. (I don’t feel it would be useful to ask past interviewers for feedback because of the way they handled rejecting me).

    Thanks for any thoughts on this!

    1. Lynn*

      Generally, I think it’s a great sign that you’re getting so many interviews for the role that you are trying to get into. It may just be that you interviewed well, but for whatever reason, you weren’t the best fit compared to the other candidates. It always feels like a personal blow to be rejected after an interview, but from the outside looking in, it looks like you are doing a lot of things very well.

    2. ALex*

      Not sure if you have the funds for this but it might be a good idea to see a Career Counselor for a mock interview – you can set it up the same way as one of your previous interviews and repeat some of your answers that way they can give you tailored feedback and you have some idea of how you appear to interviewers.

      If this is not feasible maybe try it with a friend who works in HR or someone with hiring experience? I think having someone hear how you answer interview questions will help with your self awareness/future answers

      1. Tina*

        You could also check to see if the career center for your alma mater provides services to alumni, many do, either for free or for nominal costs. Our office purchased a program called “Interview Stream”, which you can use to practice interviewing from your own computer, at home, and without even needing to work with one of the staff. Often even just watching the recording yourself gives you very useful insight.

        Btw, that actually sounds like a pretty good interview ratio to me! But it does make sense to consider other related options, just given the limited number of opportunities you mentioned.

    3. LMW*

      I think it also depends on where you are looking for jobs too. That applies to both the city size (does it have suburbs? Are your searching for those too), and how you’re looking (make sure you are exploring all avenues and not just sticking to one, like Craigslist).
      This might be obvious to you, but I recently talked to a friend who was only using Monster and CareerBuilder to job search and was complaining about lack of opening in her field. I mentioned a couple resources I found helpful, and she suddenly found a bunch more openings. (When I was job hunting I used a big aggregator like, a local job board (, and a few industry-specific boards (Big Shoes Network for comms/marketing). Since you are new to the area, you might not have uncovered all the job hunting resources available to you yet. I learned about most of these through word of mouth rather than online searches.

      1. Audiophile*

        Big Shoes Network, never even heard of it. I’ve been looking for comm/marketing jobs and kept winding up on less than stellar sites.

      2. littlemoose*

        I would also suggest looking at any alumni job boards, if applicable. Does your city have a specific business publication? Mine has a local business journal, and I used to see a lot of job postings there that I never saw elsewhere.

        That said, I agree with Lynn above that you seem to be doing some things right, as you’ve gotten multiple interviews and have progressed in the interviewing process. Can you identify any particular skills or experience that you might be lacking that would lead the employer to choose another candidate over you? It sounds like you keep being advanced in the process and then losing out to one other candidate. Maybe politely asking for feedback from the interviewer, as Alison has described, could help you gain some insight on the final hiring decision. Still, it really sounds like you are on the right track! Good luck!

  2. KarenT*

    Here’s a question I have. I apologize for the length!

    A co-worker of mine asked me to serve as a reference for her. I’m a manager but I’m not her manager; she did work on a long-term project that I managed so I can speak to the quality of her work in that regard. When she asked me, I was surprised and said I needed to think it over. I did, and went back to her, and told her I would be happy to speak to someone about her role on our project and the skills that she used there, but I couldn’t speak to her overall performance (her role on the project was small but longterm, and she did it very well). She seemed disappointed with my answer but thanked me. She told me when I could expect the call, and asked me to review her resume before I took the call to make sure that she and I were “on the same page.” I thought that was weird, and when I opened her resume I was completely and utterly shocked. The whole thing was a large exaggeration! She had made up a new job title; her title at our office is Project Coordinator and her title on her resume is Project Manager. Not a huge distinction, but project manager would be a promotion and it’s ultimately just not true. When I looked at the description of her role, it was almost completely fabricated. She described herself as having managed and supervised the project (not true–her work was administrative and delegated to her by me and another supervisor), as having created and managed the national budget (not true–it was done by not one but three of her peers), as having defined the scope of the project, and as having hired some of the project’s contributors. She wasn’t even involved in any of these things. I get that some people “fluff” their resumes, but this was a total work of fiction.
    Here’s the funny part. The new company never called me, and she got the job. She’s now in a role she’s completely unqualified for; she’s a quick learner and a smart woman, but I can’t imagine her surviving when she’s completely lied about her experience and skills. This new company thinks she has experience in areas she just doesn’t. When news spread of her new job, another co-worker came to me and said she had asked him to recommend her for a job. He said she forwarded him her resume, and he deleted it when he saw how fictitious it was. In the meantime, another of her peers has expressed frustration that her linkedin profile describes her as having defined the paramaters and scope of a project when in fact he was responsible for it. It is like she’s taking credit for his work–they both have it on their linkedin and only one of them actually did the work.
    I’m assuming there is nothing we can do about this. I actually did confront her about the resume but she just said that she knew it was a little inflated, but that everyone does it. I’d love to know your thoughts on this. Do people really lie on their resumes? Doesn’t that eventually catch up with people?

    1. Jessa*

      No, honest people do not do this. And it’s wrong to do. I’m not sure what you do next, but I have a feeling that people will figure this out. However if there’s a way to let it be known amongst people who matter at the company that the other people did more on that project. I mean it’s not right for her to be taking credit for their work. That is if they believe her in the first place.

      But that’s why they didn’t call you. She knew you wouldn’t back her lies up. So she didn’t actually LIST you as a reference.

      1. Jamie*

        Decent people don’t do this.

        I had someone steal some procedures, manuals, spreadsheets and metrics etc from me once. I have every indication that the person was passing it off as their own when applying for jobs. I didn’t even pursue it, because I know what they’re capable of and it would fold like a house of cards the first time they were asked to replicate anything similar.

        I like the fact that when I was new and sometimes over my head at least I was honest coming in about what I did and didn’t know – so if I had to learn something otj it wasn’t a surprise. I can’t even imagine the stress of having to fake a level I wasn’t at.

        This will catch up with them – I have to believe that.

        1. KarenT*

          I didn’t even pursue it, because I know what they’re capable of and it would fold like a house of cards the first time they were asked to replicate anything similar.

          That’s what I’m banking on too. It will be the best form of justice.

    2. littlemoose*

      If she’s already gotten the new job, then there’s not much you can do at this point. If she lacks the experience and skills necessary, then she’ll fail at this job. If she manages to be capable there, then at least she’s not working for you anymore. I think the only thing you could reasonably do would be to contact her via email and say that you will not be able to serve as a reference for her at any time in the future because of her falsified resume. That way at least she will know that her actions have been noticed, are not acceptable, and will not be condoned by you. If she really is under qualified for the new job, then it’s not unlikely she’ll be job-searching again soon.

      Other than that, it’s just not your place to do anything (not that it sounded like you were contemplating anything ridiculous). I completely understand how it burns your biscuits to know that she is essentially lying about her work, and consequently diminishing the work you and your coworkers actually did. It’s frustrating and unfair that she obtained a new position deceitfully. But it’s out of your hands, and just trust that it’ll catch up with her eventually.

      1. KarenT*

        I’m totally stealing the phrase ‘burns my biscuits.’ :)
        It pretty much sums it up. I really have no intention of following up, but it does burn my biscuits! I think what bothers me the most is actually the LinkedIn profile. Wakeen spent a year developing this project (defining scope, parameters, market research etc.) and listed it on his LinkedIn profile. And then she listed it too…it makes it look like they did it together when she wasn’t involved.

        I shall continue about my business and let karma run its course!

        1. SweetMisery*

          I don’t quite understand what the problem is about the LinkedIn. I mean, I understand she lied, and that’s a problem, but how many people look up the same project on your old coworker’s LinkedIn.

          Unless viewed together, it shouldn’t affect your coworker.

          1. Kelley*

            Besides the dishonesty, it’s just really aggravating for the person who actually did the work. I’m in a similar situation with a former classmate. While in school we were both student workers on a project. She moved on, while I was promoted to a role (that I had for the next several years) where I supervised other student workers. But her profile claims that she was a supervisor! To my knowledge she’s not trying to get a job based on that exact experience, but it still drives me crazy that she’s trying to take credit for work she never did.

        2. CindyB*

          While not huge weight is given to LinkedIn ‘recommendations’, would it be worth supporting the person who did the actual work (if they did it well) by writing a specific recommendation from the PM perspective? And perhaps the Project Sponsor or an appropriate project stakeholder could too? This is assuming that the piece of work was significant…

          1. Pussyfooter*

            This is along the lines of what I was thinking. Anything KarenT, coworkers and reports can do to include Proof in their resumes/online profiles might give them some peace of mind–and security in the rare chance that a conflict did come up.

    3. Jaz*

      WOW. Her fabrications are bold-faced lies. Not “a little inflated,” but complete lies. She either didn’t list you as a reference, or her new company didn’t check any references.

      Watching someone get ahead through dishonesty is difficult, but it will catch up to her eventually. I don’t think there is anything that you should do about it specifically.

      If I were in the position of your peer, who actually did the work that she was taking credit for, I would send her an email asking her to stop taking credit for my work on LinkedIn. (But I am comfortable being direct but non-adversarial.) Or I would update my LinkedIn account to say that I had the “sole responsibility to do X”).

      1. Chinook*

        “If I were in the position of your peer, who actually did the work that she was taking credit for, I would send her an email asking her to stop taking credit for my work on LinkedIn.”

        I agree that your peer has to confront her about this because there is a 50/50 chance that someone will think he is the one lieing if they see both profiles (especially if he states that he had sole repsonsibility for it). She has stolen credit from him and is undermining his credibility by saying his work is her own. Credibility is something that is as precious as much as the actual accomplishment and he needs to protect that.

        And as frustrating as it is to see someone inflate and lie about their skills, that is one where I think that I would have to sit on my hands to keep myself from speaking up (unless the potential damage from those lack of skills/knowledge could cause permanent and/or life threatening damage). The proof is absolutely in the pudding and her new employer will soon find out that she is no where as experienced as she claims to be, no matter how fast a learner she is.

    4. Rob Bird*

      Yes, people do lie on their resumes. There are even websites that will back up your lies, for a small fee:

      I couldn’t do that. The stress of a new job and everything that goes with it is bad enough. Having the stress of lying on my resume and hoping the employer doesn’t find out would do me in.

    5. Lily*

      I know someone who totally exaggerated her accomplishments. When her new employer asked her to repeat what she had claimed to do and she couldn’t, we got panicked calls. Help was given for a price. Since she had given me grief on that very issue, I felt it was only fair that her exaggeration came home to roost.

    6. Garrett*

      I think you need to let it go at this point, unfortunately. This isn’t really your problem anymore. However, for the guy who has the same job on his Linkdin, it couldn’t hurt for him to tell her to remove it from her profile, as it is a lie. She may or may not do it, but she deserves to be called out.

    7. Elizabeth west*

      There’s nothing you can do. She got the job under false pretenses; it’s now her problem. If she ever asks you to be a reference again (unlikely, because she knows you’re not going to back up her fabrication), just decline.

      And no, not everyone does it. I would be gratified if you hear that it does catch up with Little Lucy Lies-a-lot, if you would update us so we can enjoy a big does of schadenfreude. :)

    8. Jen*

      Yeah, honest people do not do this. But sadly, I have had co-workers do this and others have even told me to do this. At my last job my title was “specialist” and I honestly did more than a typical specialist did. Someone told me “You should just change the title on your resume to say that you’re a manager.” and her linkedin was complete fiction. Others noticed the made-up linkedin resume. It certainly isn’t good for your overall reputation.

    9. Mena*

      She is setting herself up for failure. You don’t want a job that you cannot do so why lie about your skills and experience? She will be found out on the job.

    10. Sydney Bristow*

      Just curious, did she use “inflate” her experience on the résumé she used to get hired at your company? Not that you would know that, but its an interesting thought. It will catch up with her eventually because it will be so hard for her to keep up all the lives over time. She will probably have to inflate it even more when she leaves her new job because she would want to show improvement over time. It seems likely to snowball out of control!

      1. KarenT*

        I wondered that myself. I’d have no idea, but it did cross my mind.
        She’s also ruined her reputation with me and a few others over here–if she reapplied to our company, I wouldn’t trust her resume. Which is really of her own doing, because the irony in all this is she was a really good worker. Just not as high level as she’s made it sound.

    11. CubeKitteh*

      People do lie on resumes. It is unfortunate and shows the character of the person who does it. The bright side of the picture is that employers generally do find out about the shortcomings relatively quickly. If she is asked to do something she listed on her resume and cannot perform or needs assistance performing the function, that is going to redflag her fairly quickly. It will also raise questions about other functions that one is supposedly able to perform per said resume.
      She also has all but burned this bridge and destroyed her credibility with her former employer. This is really not something one really wants to do just to make a resume look better to a potential/future employer.

    12. Ruffingit*

      What’s amazing about this is that she clearly sees nothing wrong with it given that she sent this totally fictionalized account to more than one possible reference who would know it was a complete lie. That’s rather bold and stupid. At this point though, there’s nothing you can do. This will catch up with her eventually when her new company asks her to do something that she has no idea how to do, but that she has claimed to be an expert on.

    13. Melissa*

      Why do people think that “everyone” lies on their resume? Most people actually don’t lie on their resume, because that stuff is exceedingly easy to verify.

    14. AnonNC*

      We may say time will tell but I’m afraid too often is just doesn’t. She may present well in person as well as she “appears” on paper. Plus I think this is a perfect storm of poor interviews (not asking enough in-depth questions about previous work or presenting hypothetical “What if” situations) as well as poorly completed reference checks which again didn’t go into enough detail.

  3. Anon*

    I’ll go first. What are your thoughts on asking your current employer to pay for relocation expenses? My spouse, who is fairly senior level, telecommutes from a few states away from his company headquarters and they are interested in having him on-site, but we can’t afford it right now (loss on house + real estate expenses + moving expenses.) Is it reasonable to ask if they will cover the costs?

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        I think in your situation it’s totally reasonable. If they’re initiating the change, he can definitely come back with, “We would need relocation assistance to make that work. Is that a possibility?”

        If your husband has demonstrated his value to the company, I don’t think you’re going to get a “do it at your own expense — or else” answer.

    1. Jessa*

      I can’t see how it would hurt to ask. Don’t know they’d go for it, I mean, it’s unusual I’d think for someone already working there, but it’s worth a decent try anyway.

    2. Rob Bird*

      Yes, it is reasonable to ask but you have to be prepared for them to say no and know what you are going to do if that happens.

    3. KarenT*

      I definitely think it’s worth asking. When he approaches his manager, be sure to point out the ways that this will benefit the company (ie. him being onsite for key meetings, in person contact with clients or what have you.)

    4. COT*

      I think your husband could have a good chance given that he’s already working there. Presumably they like him and are interested in retaining him. Just be prepared in case they say no: will you take the loss and move anyway? Will he resign?

  4. Liz*

    Such a cute kitten!

    I was wondering if we ever got an update from the manager who had to fire an employee and was worried about the employee’s family retaliating violently? I’ve been wondering about her and hope she’s okay.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Ooh yes, that one could have gone either way. I hope we hear something. That was kind of scary.

  5. Ann O'Nemity*

    I was promoted last spring and am now working under a new VP, who was also promoted. My last boss was *very* laissez faire, whereas my new boss is a bit of a micromanager. I’m having trouble making the tradition, especially since my new boss wants to approve all decision-making, even for things that I had control of in my old position before the promotion. My new boss is also reluctant to stop managing projects that the CEO told her to hand off months ago after the promotions. Overall, it feels like my “promotion” was actually a step backwards. What can I do?

    1. SameProblemDifferentPath*

      I had the same type of thing happen. We had a manager who really knew nothing about our day to day operations, so he literally just managed. Took care of budget, personnel, and left all the work to us.
      He retired, and someone from our unit was promoted.

      Unfortunately, he knows nothing about budget and personnel and everything about day to day operations. I have had him call in when he was offsite to have us read back our social media postings to him (he does not know how to log in to social media accounts). The people who run our social media have been guest lecturers in college classes on the use of social media in our industry!

      This happened four years ago and no one in our office has learned to deal with it. The saving grace here is that he can only micromanagement one issue at a time. If he gets to be too much to deal with, we bring a different issue to his attention (preferably something outside out office). Eventually your VP will have too many projects to juggle and have to neglect some of them. She might not hand them off still, but it might relax some of the micromanagement you are encountering.

      1. Another Reader*

        “If he gets to be too much to deal with, we bring a different issue to his attention (preferably something outside out office). ” Now, that’s managing upward!

      2. Anon this time*

        I have the same thing as you this year. The promoted person likes to do the day to day stuff but neglects the part of the job where they go out into the world and make big things happen. There are other people to do the day to day stuff. Its like the larger-picture stuff isn’t on his radar.

    2. Andie*

      I have been dealing with the same situation for the last 3 years. If the CEO doesn’t step in it will not change. Eventually you have to make a choice deal with it or find a new job. I have chosen to find a new job because being micromanaged SUCKS!

    3. Lily*

      Micromanagement means different things to different people and a good manager could want to approve decisions, so could you give us more detail?

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        The new boss wants to have significant input and control over day-to-day decision making on her direct reports’ projects. I’m not used to this level of oversight, as my previous boss only reviewed annual budgets, project proposals, and the summary project reports — none of the day-to-day. I hoped it would be temporary during the transition, but it just continues.

        In addition, her reviews can take days or even weeks, sometimes causing significant delays. I’ve started building extra review time into all my project plans, but it feels so unnecessary and even demoralizing after successfully managing similar projects under my old boss.

  6. ALex*

    I have a sort of work related question – Does anyone have any tips/advice/experience/comments/stories about working full-time and going to graduate school full-time (or any part time combination of the two)??

    I just started graduate school at night after work and I just want to get some insight/hear some interesting/uplifting stories from people who have survived

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      My advice is to plan for it to take longer. It took me 9 semesters to complete a 6 semester program working a full-time job, a part-time job and going to school part-time. I just couldn’t take as many classes per semester as others, but I plugged away and finished.

      Good luck.

      1. ALex*

        Good idea! I’ll planned some wiggle room into my 2 year plan so that if I choose to take less classes one semester it wont be unexpected

        1. TheSnarkyB*

          I don’t know what type of degree it is, but take that into consideration. If it’s like.. you’re mid-career and you just need the paper to move up, that’s one thing. But if it’s a career/field/degree where you’re really gaining new knowledge and the actual course content is important to you, etc., make sure you take the right amount of classes so that you can be emotionally and psychologically present in your work. I’m in a master’s program in the mental health field and I see people who are working full-time not putting in the mental effort- based on hearing them talk, I think/worry that they’re not absorbing as much and when it comes to an ethics course or a psychopathology course or a multiculturalism/how to have your clients not think you’re a bigot course, etc… being present and letting the message sink in are really important, so take your time if that’s the case. Also, it’s easier to enjoy learning when you feel like you’re not just going through the motions. Good luck!

          1. Pussyfooter*

            Thanks for making this point SnarkyB.

            I remember taking a really challenging, growth inducing communications class with a woman who was “just” taking it for her job. I struggled with the material and gained a lot. She did the physical work, passed with the same grade A, and seemed to be completely unchanged by it.

            I remember watching concepts go over her head when we had to work together in group discussion, so I doubt it was making her the great manager she saw herself becoming.

            1. Julie*

              This might be one explanation for the people at my job who are so bad at communicating. When i receive an email from them, I think that it’s so nuts that there are words and sentences on the page, but it doesn’t make sense! I used to think it was my lack of understanding, but after talking with other colleagues, I’ve discovered that they also don’t understand what these people are trying to express.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I worked full-time while going to grad school full-time for one year. I’m not going to lie, it was really tough. Here are a few things that helped:

      Time is your most valuable resource, so plan accordingly. Check your email 2 or 3 times a day instead of responding to emails when they arrive. Stop trying to absorb every word of text – you won’t remember it long term anyway; learn to strategically skim. Get help with your personal life – cleaning service, babysitting, etc.

      In your studies, become a specialist. You’ll save so much time if you narrow in on one topic or subfield instead of exploring the breadth of the field. Whenever you’re assigned a paper or project, do it on your topic. (And be sure to ask for your professor’s permission to use the same topic as you are using in another class. They always say yes.)

      1. Brett*

        “Whenever you’re assigned a paper or project, do it on your topic.”
        You should almost always do this in grad school anyway. Most programs will encourage you to make every single paper and class project relate to your research area.

      2. ALex*

        I love the specialist idea! I already know what I want to focus on but I never would have thought to apply it to assignments

        1. TheSnarkyB*

          Make sure to mix it up a little bit, though! If it’s not a PhD, breadth is valued as well as depth. I think the specialist idea is great, but incorporate your professional goals/a knowledge of the markets in which you wish to be marketable. For instance, if you’re interested in how to make chemical science appeal to children ages 8-10.5, you’d want some papers/research on how to do the same for physics, or for 10.5-12yrs old, etc…
          I have a lot of anxiety about entire fields just up and disappearing, so this is partially coming out of that and my intense fear that I feel for people who are studying one miniscule and no longer relevant portion of print media and or putting loads of cash into an anthropology master’s in this economy….

          1. Melissa*

            Eh, I don’t know about this. There are other ways to develop breadth, and term papers are just so time-consuming that doing them all on the same or similar topics can save you a lot of time. But the wide range of classes you’ll have to take will force you to do slightly different things. I’m in public health and for example, my paper for social epidemiology was on HIV risk in black men; my paper for survey research methods was planning a study to look at risk behavior for HIV in black men; my paper for history of public health looked at media coverage of the HIV epidemic in black communities in the early 1990s; so on and so forth. Breadth isn’t really necessarily the most valued thing; many fields want you to develop a particular concentration.

      3. Rana*

        Stop trying to absorb every word of text – you won’t remember it long term anyway; learn to strategically skim.

        This. Very much this. If you’re in a text-heavy field (like mine, history) you’ll learn that most writers tend to organize their book-length arguments in similar ways. Introductions and conclusions tend to be important, and it’s usually worth looking over the index and table of contents as well. Trying to memorize every word is less useful than aiming to grasp the general thrust of the argument, and remembering a few specific, key examples to serve as reminders of how it all fit together. (This is also useful for exams, later – a well-chosen example that links to wider themes is often more helpful to know than a bunch of random little facts.)

    3. Onya*

      Hi there, I would say it very much depends what field you are studying. If you want to succeed fully in the social sciences, this plan puts you at a real disadvantage in that you will be challenged to be able to participate in the significant activities of your department (committees, research teams, visiting lectures, etc.) Sure you can earn a degree but miss out on some valuable experiences.

      1. ALex*

        I agree – thats one of the things I was worried about :/

        My program is designed for working professionals so I’ve seen that a lot of networking/department events are scheduled for nights or weekends – I’m hoping this will sort of offset missing out on the outside of class events

        1. Onya*

          In that case, Alex, it sounds like your program is definitely well-suited to your situation. If you speak regularly with your adviser and share any concerns, they will see you are doing your best to be part of things.

    4. Simona*

      I have a success story. My dad did it in the early 90s. He did the MBA in half the time at night school while he juggled getting married and having a kid. It’s possible. It’s tough but it can happen. He told me you just sometimes have to accept that a B is sometimes the best you can do and not kill yourself for the A.

    5. Brett*

      What kind of graduate program?
      If your program ends with a thesis or dissertation, I would plan on at least a full year to write your thesis and 2-3 years to write your dissertation. That is just writing, not counting your research. Writing is by far the most difficult thing to do while working full time. I took a full time job in the middle of writing my thesis and it definitely added an extra six months to my writing.

    6. Jenny S.*

      I worked full time and attended an Masters program at night. It took me about 2 years (summers were off from school). What made it work for me were 1. good time management 2. self-discipline and 3. a great support system.

      I took public transit to work, so I could read my class assignments. I also brought/made my lunch, that way I’d save money and also time – which was used for more studying/school assignments. On top of that, I was lucky that my boyfriend at the time, my family and my boss were encouraging and supportive of my efforts. I realize that not everyone will have that. If you don’t, try to seek out encouragement from friends or other family members. It will make a huge difference.

      You’re taking an exciting and important step in your career. Congratulations and good luck!

      (If should also note – if your masters program offers the opportunity to take a final test instead of doing a thesis, TAKE THE TEST! A thesis will take forever to complete. Several of my classmates never finished their degree because of it!)

      1. Brett*

        Sorry, I have to disagree with testing over a thesis. A thesis is a major publication and an important achievement. Revisions and defense are also extremely useful professional experiences. The later is why I even support a thesis over a project paper; a project paper is normally just reviewed by your major adviser instead of an entire committee.

        Also, you might not want a PhD now, but you might want one ten years from now. Testing instead of a thesis is going to make it more difficult to get into a PhD program, and you are going to have to do a -ton- of extra work in your PhD program because you have not published a thesis yet.

        1. Jenny S.*

          I guess it really depends on your field. I work in arts management and trust me, NO ONE cares about a master thesis. And getting a PhD is pretty much a death sentence for an arts management career. A project-related thesis might be useful to someone who has little hands-on experience in the field. That was the case with a friend of mine who was new to it. I came in with 5 years experience, so a project-related thesis would not have been helpful.

          1. Brett*

            Yeah, it totally depends on your field.
            And depends on your career goals. If you want to become a tenure track professor you are normally going to want a PhD (with the arts being an exception, since an MFA is probably the better degree there).

        2. ALex*

          I am in a program that is not research based so most of the coursework focuses on real world applications and most of the Prof.s work as consultants or in businesses. I am interested in pursuing a PhD. but I liked this program because I want to get some work experience before attempting to conduct research.

          It seems like you have some know-how in academia (correct me if I am wrong) – what is your opinion of getting several years of work experience before starting a PhD program? I would likely pursue one in Management, Organizational Behavior or I/O Psychology (something in that realm) and I feel like I would do better/the courses would make more sense if I had some experience actually working in business

          Or would it be better to get a masters then a PhD right away and start working afterwards?

          1. Ann O'Nemity*

            I’d recommend getting the experience between Master’s and PhD. The is even more true in practitioner fields.

          2. ChristineSW*

            I too was wondering about needing work experience before pursuing a PhD.

            As for the original question – I think full-time work and full-time school would be really hard. I did my MSW program part-time because I knew a full-time course load on top of working on top of the internship would wear me out pretty quickly.

      2. ALex*

        Luckily my program has a “capstone course” instead of a thesis so I will not have to worry about that! I worked in a research lab in undergrad so I know what a pain writing can be! (Instead I have to complete practical experience in my field over the course of a semester and present an in-depth analysis and do a presentation to the department.)

        Thanks for your suggestions!

    7. Loose Seal*

      See if you can get eTextbooks. I’m thrilled when I can get a Kindle edition of my books (there are other places where you can rent an eText). That way I always have it with me and can read a bit while I’m waiting at appointments, eating lunch, etc. Paper texts can be super big and hard to carry around with you. A bonus about getting eTexts is that you can wait until your professor actually assigns something out of the book before you buy it. I’ve been burned too many times by buying a book at the start of the semester and the professor never assigned anything from it.

      Also, make sure you know the drop/add dates. There is no shame in dropping a course if you find life is too full for you to give it your attention. My university lets you drop without charge the first full week of classes. This is helpful because it lets you get all your syllabi and see if you’re able to structure your time to get everything done. If not, plan to do that course some other time.

      1. TheSnarkyB*

        or if you have an iPad, you can use PDFs that may already be available online (much cheaper than eTextbooks), and you can take notes on them using an app called iAnnotate, which can sync with Dropbox, etc. so that you always have cloud access to certain documents, readings, etc. I absolutely love this app and I find it very useful.
        Also, the school library should have a scanner and books on reserve that you can check out for a couple hours at a time. If textbook cost is a concern, what I’ve done is scanned the book (page by page by page) into PDFs, (NOT sharing them with anyone bc that’s illegal), and then use them as if they were etexts.

        1. ChristineSW*

          I hate not being able to highlight and make notes when reading an electronic article or book, so the iAnnotate app sounds pretty cool (if it’s what I’m envisioning…I don’t have an iPad–yet–so I’m a little clueless. lol).

          How many files/etexts can an iPad hold? A lot, I hope?

        2. Mander*

          I’ve also used a camera to copy book pages and papers. Searching them is not really that important to the way I work, so this worked fine for me and was a lot faster than scanning + OCR-ing. Both my small digital camera and my phone have a text mode, which made this very convenient. I also have a tiny hand-held scanner but it is a bit more awkward to use since you have to roll it over the page at the right speed and in a straight line.

          I didn’t have a tablet until very late in my PhD but once I got one it was great having my collection of PDFs and my reference database with me in an easy-to-carry format. The only problem is that it’s an iPad 2 (won in a drawing) and only has a fixed amount of storage and the annoyance of Apple’s proprietary ecosystem — as a Linux user I would have been happier with an Android tablet with an SD card expansion slot for ease of transferring files without having to boot into Windows. Something to think about if you aren’t already a Mac user.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know about grad school but my undergrad took six years as opposed to four, simply because I could not handle more than six hours a semester working full-time. I quit grad school (wrong choice of major) but it was basically the same thing. This undergrad I’m in now should take less even with a light schedule, mostly because all the gen ed stuff is out of the way.

      You will make it. Good time management is the key. :)

    9. LMW*

      Not going to lie: It’s tough. I finished my degree working full time and going to school full time in 2008. I was pretty much a hermit by the end (and my degree was really close to my field so I was writing and editing basically every waking hour). My sister is in the middle of getting her MBA while working full time and she’s going through the same thing. Here are some tips, based on my experience:
      1) Set aside some regular time once a week where you relax and connect with the people important to you. Almost everyone I know who has done the full time work/full time school thing has let their relationships slide. Take care of yourself by setting aside downtime and using it to stay in touch with people. I didn’t do this and I really regret it.
      2) Take care of yourself physically. Don’t let being busy mean that you skimp on healthy food and exercise. You actually will need it more than ever.
      3) Remember to enjoy it. It’s easy to get caught up in the stuff you actually need to get done to get the degree, but grad school is a great opportunity to indulge in your interest in the subject you are studying. You’re surrounded by people who also have enough interest in the subject that they are devoting a few years to studying it. Take advantage of that!

      1. Brett*

        Taking care of yourself is really important!
        I worked out with the college wrestling team while in grad school and it really helped me stay grounded and focused.

      2. Piper*

        This is great advice.

        I, too, completed an MFA while working full-time. It took me 5 years instead of 3 to complete 66 credits. My last three years were intensely focused on research, with the final year of those three focus on writing a project-based thesis from the research. It was insane, not going to lie.

        But I did the things listed above – kept in touch with friends/family regularly and actually started exercising more (ran my first marathon in the last semester of school). I do wish I had taken more time to enjoy it, though, as mentioned. That’s the one thing I let slide a bit.

    10. Yup*

      Finished my masters (while working FT) almost exactly a year ago. It can definitely be done! :) It was definitely a challenge but it’s been well worth it, both for the learning and the impact of the degree. Tips:

      Get organized and stay that way. Create computer folders for each course and put all the relevant docs – syllabus, papers, research – in there. (Back up your drives early and often.) When you get a syllabus, note all the assignment due dates and study sessions on your google/outlook/pocket calendar, so you can plan around big deadlines between work and school.

      Be ruthless in time management. You only have so many hours in the day/week, so figure out how much time an assignment type takes — 1 hr to write 1 pg, 30 minutes to read a chapter, etc — and plan accordingly. Break homework into smaller chunks for manageability. It’s much easier to write 1-2 pgs per night after work for a week than to spend an entire Saturday working flat out. (I used to do reading assignments on my lunch breaks at work.)

      Manage your expectations. You can’t possibly do everything amazingly, so figure out what’s critical. I refused to give up too much sleep for homework so my approach was to set a given amount of time to do schoolwork and be inflexible about it. I’d give myself, say, four hours to complete assignment X; at the end, the prof is getting the best work I can do in four hours, not the very best work I could do ever ever. In the worst (most overwhelming) course, I realized that I simply couldn’t do all the assignments in the time available. So I turned in all the big important ones and intentionally didn’t complete the one worth 5 points that would have taken me a full day to do (at the expense of the big ones).

      Realize that life, not school, is going to be the challenge. Everyone in my program who fell behind or had to take a break from classes did so because a family member fell ill or their spouse changed jobs or their kid was getting married, etc. Professors understand this. If you get to a place where life needs to supercede school for a bit, tell them what’s going on and let them help you work it out. Unlike undergrad (where school is expected to be 100% your life), grad programs expect that you have other responsibilities and sincerely genuinely want to help you continue on and complete the degree.

      Enjoy it. You’re going to meet amazing interesting people, and learning from others is such a huge bonus. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds, so keep in mind *why* you’re doing all this in the first place. Congrats on starting your program, and good luck with everything!

    11. Lindsay*

      I earned my first masters (library science) completely online, attending part-time while working full-time. It took me 3 1/2 years and was a good workload.

      I’m working on my second masters now (I work in academia), in educational technology (hybrid classes) and I’m attending full-time while also working full-time. I think this is do-able because one class will be a light workload and the other two are flexible.

      Definitely lots of variables in play! Like someone else said, it depends on the field, and on the individual classes.

      Get a hold of the class syllabi beforehand if you can so you can see what’s in store for you, ask around to find out if the instructor is tough or flexible. Generally most people attend grad school part-time if they’re working full-time, so keep that in mind too.

      Good luck!

    12. periwinkle*

      Almost every fellow student in my MSc program was a working adult taking classes part-time. The time it will take to complete the program depends on what other obligations you have going on in your life – family, job, volunteer work, hobbies – and how much you can and cannot put on hold while you’re in school.

      Sort out your class enrollment based on the demands of each class. Our program’s core requirement included six 4-credit classes, three of which included a semester-long team project involving real-world clients. The people working full-time would usually take one of those 4-credit project classes along with a 3-credit elective (most of which were 10 weeks rather than a full semester). You simply could not take two project classes in the same semester and also hold a job! (I took two project classes simultaneously, but only worked part-time) The program advisors will help you decide reasonable course selections. Talk with them before you enroll, though, because programs may have a time limit by which you must complete the degree requirements.

      Time management is critical. My regular team partner in the program worked full time, took two classes each semester, chased around after his toddler while his wife was in classes (different program), *and* was active in the military reserves. Needless to say he was very organized and disciplined with his time.

      Yeah, if a thesis is an option, don’t do it if you’re working. I completed a research-based thesis, but I had quit my regular job to become a graduate assistant and did not take any classes in the last semester (when I was actually writing the thesis).

    13. Laura*

      You need to be really organized. Use your PTO when you need to (final exams, major reports, etc) to take a mental health day.

      It’s not easy – I did it and got through it, but I wish I had scheduled a little more work down time to get me through the big class issues. Instead, I tried to juggle everything and a couple of things fell. (Nothing major, luckily.)

      Good luck.

    14. Liz in a library*

      I did. For part of my grad school, I was working a full time job, a second part time job, and was a full time student (and planning a wedding and buying a house…that was hell year).

      You will probably need to lower expectations about things that are less important (the house will not be sparkling clean, you won’t get to do as many social things as you’d like), or at least that was my experience. What kind of graduate program you are entering will also have a huge impact on how doable this is. For certain things (I’ve heard the hard sciences and law school are like this), it is impossible…but for many fields it can be done!

      The benefit to working while in grad school is that hopefully you’ll come out with less debt and with more experience than some of the folks who will be competing with you for jobs down the road.

    15. JR*

      I did grad school/full time office job as well. The only thing that saved me is that my manager was really accommodating. He’d let me go to class during the day and then make up the time (I could walk to school, so there was no real commuting issues). My saving grace was that I was a stellar employee, and he saw this, so he had no problems helping me get my education taken care of, because the work I was putting in more than made up for the few hours a day I was gone.

    16. Garrett*

      I also worked full time while getting my Master’s. It was mostly geared towards working people, so classes were at night. I did have to get creative on my work schedule sometimes to make it to school and avoid the terrible traffic (if I left too late, it added 30 minutes to the trip!). But, luckily they were flexible.

      I even had one summer class during the day, so I worked a few hours in the morning, went to class, and came back and worked late. Long days for sure. I got my current job through my school and it was definitely worth it. It took my 2.5 years to finish. Just know that there will be some craziness and long, tiring days, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

    17. Mena*

      I worked full-time whily pursuing an MBA at night. It is a long road. I dedicated Saturdays to course work, and laundry in the background. You need to keep your life simple … you can’t do it all so don’t try. Stay focused on your goals and trudge along as best you can.

      I was lucky in that I had a supportive husband busy building a small business and a supportive supervisor. Good luck to you!

    18. Seal*

      I received 2 masters degrees in 5 years while working full time. It’s definitely doable, but while I was in school pretty much all I did was work and study. The first program could have been completed in a year (2 semesters plus a summer), but I spread it out over 2 years plus summers. The second program was specifically for people who worked full time, so that also took 2 years. But the second program ended with a group capstone project, which was brutal time-wise. What worked for me in both programs was taking strategically planned days off during the semester to finish papers and projects and the like – that helped keep me sane.

      Mine is also a success story. After receiving my first masters degree, my career, which had been stalled for several years, took off. I got a new job within months of graduation and have been promoted several times. They even paid for my second masters. All in all, very much worth the time and effort.

    19. A Teacher*

      YES! I went back to grad school for the second time to switch fields (athletic training to teaching). I worked full time while in school and while student teaching (it was possible with the kind of athletic training I did). My program was a hybrid 21 month program for a MA in Teaching and somewhat easier than my MS in Kiniesiology route because I didn’t have to do a thesis the second time around.

      Understand that you will feel overwhelmed at times and tired all of the time. Just know that it is worth it in the end and try to not get too frustrated. Also, when people get negative about going back to school tune them out–you know why you are or need to go back–less negativity is better.

    20. Rana*

      Talk to your professors. That’s what they’re there for. If you find yourself struggling, or just curious, or worried about how to balance an upcoming assignment with work-related stuff that might interfere, talk to them.

      When I was teaching – and every teacher I know agrees with this – I had the most respect for the students who came to me proactively before a problem developed, and worked with me to mitigate the possible effects. It’s often easy to reschedule a paper or assignment in advance, or to make alternate arrangements for you to learn missed material; trying to do so after the fact is annoying and difficult for all concerned.

    21. Malissa*

      Resist the urge to turn into a hermit. Budget your time. Know that doing this will result in taking extra days off of work before tests. Stock up on alcohol–just kidding–sort of.
      I did it. It can be done. Those around you must be supportive.

    22. Miss Displaced*

      I just finished grad school.
      When I started, I was unemployed so I took 3 evening classes which made me full time. I did that for two semesters but then got a full time job and worked through the rest, typically taking 1 or 2 classes a semester and during summer. You can survive, but a lot depends on your major and your job!

      I must say that I sacrificed a lot. I worked on readings and papers all weekend after working all week. I also didn’t get the benefits of having an internship or assistantship, which are critical in some fields of study. However, I genuinely like studying and writing papers and didn’t miss the TV! LOL! It was exhausting, but I’m glad I did it.

    23. Ruffingit*

      I did that. I got my M.A. in four years by working (combo of full-time and part-time as there were job changes during that time). I went to school on weekends and at night. Thankfully, a good portion of my program was online, but there in-person classes I had to attend on Saturdays and during the weeknights sometimes. I had to drive 2.5 hours one way to school so that was rough.

      It’s not easy. Don’t expect it to be. You will be tired. A lot. You will be depressed. You will feel stressed. But it is worth it! Hang in there!

    24. Melissa*

      Don’t try to be perfect. Good is done and done is good. Whether it’s the term paper, the capstone summation paper, whatever – remember that get ‘er done is your motto. In PhD studies we have a saying “the best dissertation is a done dissertation,” and I think that’s true of most assignments in the master’s phase too. When it’s good/passable, turn it in and don’t think about it anymore.

  7. Jane Doe*

    Maybe the fine AAM readers can help. Sorry for length!

    I’ve been working at the same firm for 7.5 years. All in all, it’s not a great place to work. It’s alot of hours for not alot of money, there are extremely toxic personalities, and nepotism runs rampant. I am very good at what I do, and the number one gripe I’ve got with working here is that there are things out of my control that prevent me from doing the best work I can do. I am not a quitter so I’ve tried working through this, modifying myself as much as I can to make it work, but I am fairly disillusioned with this place. The best reason for staying is that there are a couple coworkers that I have really connected with, and also that being a top performer, it’s a very secure job in a not-so-secure industry.

    In May of this year, I was contacted by another firm, who had heard of my reputation and wanted to see about taking me on. I’ve met with them three times, and everything went well. They basically told me that I would be getting a call as soon as they had an opening for my level. I was really excited and energized, and looking forward to making a move to a place that truly seemed like a better fit.

    My current firm offered me a promtion to the next level of leadership three weeks ago, which I accepted. I didn’t have an offer from the other firm, and proceeded that way. I also would have raised a ton of questions if I turned it down. The press release regarding the promotion went out last week.

    Lo and behold, I get a request to meet with the new firm, and they’ve made me offer. I really want to take it.

    I am having an extremely hard time dealing with guilt for taking the promotion when I may be leaving so soon. The promotion is really the first recognition I’ve gotten at this firm, despite putting in thousands of hours of my personal time, making very happy clients and successful projects for the last 7.5 years. Logically, I don’t really owe them anything and the timing of both things was completley out of my control, but I still feel really bad. I don’t want my guilt to cloud my judgment on accepting an offer that will likely be in my best interest. Is my guilt misplaced?

    1. CollegeAdmin*

      I’ll be honest, I’d feel guilty myself in that situation, but unless that promotion somehow comes with huge changes (like the removal of those with “toxic personalities” and the nepotism), you should still take the new position and enjoy it!

    2. AMownLawn*

      My opinion is that your guilt is understandable, but misplaced. Unless you signed a contract agreeing to stay there for X number of years with that promotion, take the new job and enjoy it. You listed a number of problems that are not going to go away with the new position (toxic personalities, nepotism, long hours). Of course, you can’t know that those won’t exist at the new firm, but I think you owe yourself a change of scenery.

      Besides, do you really want to work for another 8 years before you get recognized for the great work that you’d do in this new role?

      1. Jessa*

        Even if the toxicity is gone now, I doubt it will STAY gone. A toxic place, particularly when it’s toxic from the TOP not the bottom (nepotism, etc.) the problems will float back up. Someone will get moved into your department, another family member will want a job. Get out while you can.

    3. justmary*

      Take a step back. If you had not been promoted at your current company, would you be feeling guilt about taking the new job? You said you were feeling very disillusioned with your current company-did that change because of the promotion? Maybe looking at it from these perspectives might make your decision a little easier. Good luck with whichever you choose.

      1. Tracy*

        If I were in your shoes, I would take the offer at the new company and start fresh. Even with a promotion, the atmosphere (toxicity, nepotism, etc.) will still be there. You’ve done your time there; I think it’s time to move on. Good luck in whatever you decide!

    4. Jaz*

      Good people have misplaced guilt all the time. Your old firm (yes, your old firm) worked a high performer hard without deserved recognition or pay, so it lost a high performer. By staying so long, you’ve kept them from the necessary consequences of their actions.

      Accept your offer, get everything in writing, and enjoy your new job!

    5. Mike C.*

      Sometimes a promotion comes too little, too late. It took you 7.5 years of hard work to receive a promotion? Are you willing to deal with another 7.5 years before they say “Good Job!” to you again?

      1. Mike C.*

        I mean look, how big of a promotion was it? Are we talking “making up for no cost of living increases” money or are we talking “I’m spending this weekend looking at sports cars” money here?

        1. Jane Doe*

          You are going to laugh when I tell you this, but it was basically to a leadership position. No increase in pay, just more responsibility and a bigger role. It’s the lowest rung of the three rung leadership ladder.

          You guys are awesome. Everything you are saying is exactly correct. I wouldn’t feel guilty if it weren’t for the promotion, so I think I need to put that aside.

          1. Joey*

            To me that’s a total slap in the face. They’re essentially saying you’re so valuable they’re going to increase the amount they’re underpaying you.

            1. periwinkle*

              Just wanted to applaud Joey’s turn of phrase. It’s a perfect summary.

              OP – get the other offer in writing, accept it, take home your important files and personal items, and then try to keep a straight face when you resign. Congrats!

            2. A Teacher*

              +1 to Joey and the others. No recognition for 7.5 years and then more work with no increase in pay? How is that worth it? If you get the other offer, I hope you take it and excel like the excellent employee you probably are :)

          2. Meg*

            It sounds like you dislike your job for plenty of reasons other than just your title. And the fact that they gave you a promotion with no raise (and I’m assuming they didn’t have a reason as to why not) is pretty insulting. Take the new job, enjoy a fresh environment and hopefully a bigger paycheck, and don’t look back.

          3. Trillian*

            As well as responsibility, do you actually have any authority? Ie, firing and pulling the plug on contracts. My first experience of management was that, and I didn’t have the experience to say no. Never again.

          4. saro*

            My southern self says, “Awwwww hayull no.” Take the job and feel good about it. Congratulations!

          5. Ruffingit*

            Not laughing, more like crying at how incredibly sad that is. 7.5 years of stellar work and you get a promotion with no pay raise, but more work? LEAVE NOW.

      1. Windchime*

        That’s kind of what I was thinking, it’s like a pre-emptive counter offer. With no extra money. Psych!

        1. Jane Doe*

          I don’t think that they have any idea. They first told me that I was getting the promotion in December, well before the other firm was in the picture. It just took them 8 months to get around to making it official. Awesome, right? :)

          1. Ruffingit*

            8 months to make it official. Yeah, more evidence to leave now. I get the guilt, but you don’t owe these people anything. They’ve really treated you very badly and this “promotion” actually doesn’t benefit you in any way since there’s no money attached to it. Move on and be happy!

    6. COT*

      I agree with everyone else–you have nothing to feel guilty about. The timing is inconvenient, but it’s well beyond “inconvenient” that they’ve kept you in the same position for 7.5 years with little recognition and a poor work environment. You didn’t really have a choice but to accept the promotion given the factors you described above.

      Your company probably hasn’t invested that much in promoting you. It doesn’t sound like they did a hiring and interview process, they probably haven’t trained you yet, and at most they’ve maybe started the process to fill the position you left behind. Your leaving doesn’t cost them much compared to how much they’ve taken from you without showing proper appreciation for it.

      Take the new job and enjoy it!

    7. Jessa*

      Yes your guilt is misplaced. That offer could have come yesterday or three years from now. You took the promotion in good faith. You were not sitting on an offer “in two months we have a spot opening when Jaime leaves for Switzerland.” You had a “if we have something at some nebulous point in the future we’ll let you know.” That’s not a firm offer. They might have NEVER had something. You did the right thing for your career. Take the new offer and be happy for yourself.

    8. Londell*

      After reading all the responses I couldn’t agree more. Take the new job. The promotion at the old firm may be a short term gain to your happiness. You feel bad about leaving now because you care about your job and the quality of work that you do. You feel much better doing good things in a different environment and bringing something new to that organization.

      1. Jane Doe*

        Will do! I plan on interacting with this community alot more. I received the offer in writing this afternoon and am feeling really good about it. I really appreciate the input from everybody!

  8. Trillian*

    I have a question I’ve been meaning to float for a while. I am professionally active in two quite different fields, one scientific and one creative, and I am wondering whether to combine or separate my web presence/social networking activity for the two. When I was starting out, I tended to hide my creative work to avoid questions about my commitment. Now I have a track record and people are generally interested and supportive, but I am still wary of mixing two tribes with notably different norms and customs. At the same time it’s all I can do to keep up with one identity, never mind two! Anyone else in a similar situation and how do you manage?

    1. Jenny S.*

      I am in a slightly similar situation. Career #1 is in fundraising for non-profit arts organizations. Career #2 is as a playwright. I currently combine them both on my linkedin and my twitter account notes both careers. I do have a personal website for playwriting, but not for fundraising.

      When I was job-hunting (for fundraising) a year ago, I noticed that my creative career did come up as an issue for some employers. There was definitely that “are you really committed to fundraising” question. One prospective employer even suggested that I get a part-time job in retail or at a coffee shop instead. (Even though I had a 10-year career as a successful fundraiser, and I actually like my “day job”!!) After that experience, I removed my playwriting info from linkedin and social media while I was job-hunting, and I didn’t mention my creative endeavors in job interviews.

      Once I landed a new fundraising job, I put all of that back up online. My current employer doesn’t seem to mind my other career. In fact, my co-workers even attended one of my plays!

      I suppose it helps that my fundraising jobs have all been in the arts. There are a lot administrators at arts organizations who are also artists on the side.

      You’re in a unique position, but not one that is unmanageable. I would say combine them if you feel comfortable doing so. If you’re actively job-hunting, less emphasis on your creative endeavors would probably be helpful. And if anyone questions your commitment, refer them to this:

    2. jennie*

      I’d strongly recommend merging your online identities. I have THREE twitter accounts, one personal (anonymous), one professional, and one related to my blog. Maintaining all three is impossible so I focus on the personal one at the expense of my professional and blog contacts. I’m trying to force myself to become a whole, authentic person and not segregate myself into separate interests. It’s hard for me, but in reality, people respond to authenticity and your diverse interests will probably be seen as a plus on both sides.

    3. SweetMisery*

      Why not pursue a combination?

      Science companies need photographers, people who do demos need camera people, and every company could do with advertising.

    4. KellyK*

      I think it would make your life easier if you combined the two. It would also make you stand out a little more among the tons of bloggers and tweeters in both areas, as someone with a unique perspective.

    5. Colette*

      In my experience (which is software related), many engineers/CS people have artistic/creative hobbies. I can’t imagine anyone would be concerned about being professionally active in 2 fields, as long as there’s a clear separation and you’re not using your time at one job to work on or promote the other.

    6. AP*

      The only situation in which I would recommend not combining your presences is if you’re looking for freelance work in both at the same time. Recently I was looking to hire someone for Project A and a person was recommended by a friend. When I googled her, I found her personal site, which was mostly about Topic B but also had some info about Topic A. I’m a little worried that she is so involved with Topic B that she’s not going to work out for my project, but I’m going to talk to her anyway next week and really probe…but it was a possible red flag.

  9. Onya*

    Hi there everyone! I have a Skype interview coming up, which I felt very prepared for, until… they just notified me that I will be interviewing with a team being patched into a group-Skype consisting of 6 PEOPLE (3 of which outside of the USA!) It’s very intimidating, to say the least. Does anybody have any tips on staying focused, etc., when having to communicate with such a big pool of talking-heads on screen?

    Also, they are interviewing me for a position that has 3 current openings, 2 in the U.S. and one overseas (I’m open to any of these and welcome a challenge.) I know that overseas employees have all their relocation expenses covered, but the job description notes that there is a 6 month probationary period for the role. Hypothetically, if I were actually offered the job and moved across the ocean, but then after 6 months they didn’t feel I was well suited for it, would I expect to have to ship all my household belongings home after this? I am worried because I could never afford that, given the family obligations I have. I don’t know if or when this might be appropriate to bring up with the employer – only if/when I might receive and offer, yes? But even then, it seems awkward to even infer something like that would be possible (i.e., saying the equivalent “In case I’m a total failure in this role, I need you to pay thousands of dollars to ship my belongings home if you don’t like my work.”)

    Thanks in advance for any advice. This is a great blog – my friends and I love it!!

    1. VictoriaHR*

      I’ve never done a Skype interview so I have no advice, but I would think that doing a 6-person group Skype would be better than in-person because you wouldn’t have to worry about making eye contact with each person. Which is exhausting in an in-person group interview.

      I’d imagine the reason for the 6- month probationary period for the overseas job is because some people just can’t handle the culture change. That alone is the reason that most (by far) overseas relocations fail (yay I just used my PHR knowledge!)

    2. saro*

      I’ve conducted these types of interviews over Skype. It’s a little difficult but it usually works in the interviewee’s favor since we understand that it’s difficult to convey your personality.

      Try to keep the umms and aahs to a minimum since that is a little more obvious when we’re mainly hearing the person’s voice.

      Video interview tips:
      – Turn on your Skype now and see what is in the background!
      – I like to take notes to jot down ‘reminder’ words so I don’t forget things.
      – Put your laptop on a desk or higher table (not coffee table) so they aren’t looking up your nose the whole time.
      – Wear a simple top, keep your earrings simple and necklace since that’s what we’ll see.

      I would ask the return relocation costs after the job offer and make sure the contract says it too!

      Good luck!

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Ditto on the background of your skype interview space. Nothing weird or distracting or controversial. Make sure that whatever you’re wearing doesn’t clash with the background (I’ve seen people in patterned clothing become pixilated at times, which may have more to do with the video feed than the background, but which is still annoying).

        Dress COMPLETELY for the interview. I was told of a candidate on a skype interview whose audio failed, so they called him on his phone. Wasn’t wearing pants when he got up to go answer it.

        In group interviews done in person, you coach candidates to include the others in the room with your answer by making eye contact, etc. With Skype, I’ve found this to be different. In my opinion, you’re better off looking straight into the camera when you answer the question. That way, the people on the other side sees you “looking” at them. I did find it useful to look at the person asking the question to pick up on visual cues.

        It does take some getting used to, so if you can, practice ahead of time with a friend on Skype.

        1. Onya*

          Thanks, all of you for this great advice. Fortunately I use Skype a lot to speak to family so I am good with setting the angle and looking at the camera (not straight ahead.) As for the background, there are certainly different views about that given by the experts online! A few say it should be a blank wall, while others say not to do that, and that it is really important to have some visual depth, like a bookshelf or something.

          In this particular organization, the norm for peoples offices, as I have seen, is to have the walls decorated with “exotic” things brought home for their work trips abroad – i.e. South American textiles, beautiful African masks, stuff like that. Women in professional high-level roles will adorn their business dress with (for example) a gorgeous silk scarf brought home from Central Asia or dangling earrings from Morocco, etc.

          This complicates (maybe?) the “how to dress” thing. For this organization, culture fit is important. They don’t hire people who do not fit the mold, in actual experience or at least aspirationally. (Coming across as “bland” or “generic” would work against me.)

          I always presume one should strive to emulate the style and aesthetic of people in leadership roles, and so given this organization’s norms, I am still debating what “visual clues” I can include in my dress AND the background that will hint to them, non-verbally, my “culture fit” aspects (if I don’t have the opportunity to speak much about that.) And yet… I don’t want to overwhelm visually.

          1. saro*

            I think you’re being quite insightful about this and agree. I think an interesting scarf or interesting earrings would suffice. I’ve traveled fairly extensively and work in international development but my most ‘ethnic’ looking earrings are from Kohls!

            I wouldn’t worry too much about the background though. I usually don’t notice it and understand that it’s difficult to convey from a nook where desk is located.

            Good luck!

    3. Gjest*

      About the relocation expenses- I recently moved overseas, and my new job paid all relocation expenses (including the pets airline fees!). I have a 3 year contract, and it states that if I decide to leave before the 3 years is up, I have to pay to relocate myself. If they decide to let me go before the 3 years, they pay. And if I work until the end of the contract, it can either be renewed (if both parties agree), or if I leave, they pay to send me back.

      So maybe wait for the offer, then ask. That’s what I did.

      Good luck!

    4. jesicka309*

      I had the exact same thing happen to me two years ago – I’d been streaming podcasts whilst I worked, and leaving my personal email open every night incl. weekends because I was a stupid, stupid fool.

      It was unfortunately that I was the highest ranked user out of 20….and my department made up about 50% of all names on that list. Bosses were so mad…

      I was able to explain how my usage had gotten so high, and I was really lucky that I was known for my stellar performance (and to be honest, I’d been telling them I was bored for years at that point, so I secretly blamed them for knowing I was bored then punishing me for amusing myself).

      I handled it by putting my head down, pretending it never happened, and getting on with work. Sure, your reputation has taken a hit, but because they’ve dealt with it privately, the only people who know are you and your manager. You’re just going to have to rebuild all that kudos you already had….and just be lucky you were so highly regarded to start off with. :)

  10. Amanda*

    Awwww! Cutie!

    Does anyone have any advice for plugging along on the job search when you are completely burned out?

    I job searched for over a year, landed an amazing but short term stint and now it’s time to job search again. The problem is that I’m completely burned out on searching. I’ve been extremely lazy about relaunching my search and I can’t afford to be (literally-I now live in the most expensive city in the country.

    How have you kept up motivation in long-term job searches?

    1. brightstar*

      I’ve been job searching off and on for three years (most of that time I’ve been working). And it’s so hard to stay motivated when it feels like most of the carefully crafted cover letters and resumes go into the ether never to be seen. What works for me is to think of it as a challenge and even just one application a day is something and to ignore the doubting voice in my head that it’s not worth the effort.

      1. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

        What about using some staffing services? I get calls and e-mails all of the time from staffing agencies highlighting great candidates. Other than that, just try really hard to stay focused and set daily goals for yourself. Job searching is like having a full time job.

    2. Meg*

      You know, I know staffing agencies get a bad rep on this site (and sometimes deservedly so), but I had a GREAT experience with the agency I went through. They placed me in a couple long-term (one was 3 months, one was 6) temp positions that were directly related to the field I wanted to break into, and helped me get an interview for the job I have now, which is a full-time, non-temp position (and I really like my job, by the way). I never felt like they misled me on anything, and it helped me gain necessary experience. I’d recommend looking into them if you’re willing.

    3. Ruffingit*

      I’ve been there. What I did was approach the search as though it was a job in that a schedule for searching was made with built in breaks. I looked for jobs for an hour or so and put them all in one folder in my browser than started on the apps for them after a 15 minute break to surf Facebook or whatever. I took weekends off the job search to give myself that needed mental break of not going at it every single day.

      Also, definitely take the recommendations of others on staffing agencies. Some of them suck, but I’ve had good luck with others so get on board with that. It can at least help with having some income coming in and keep your skills up to date while searching.

  11. Anon*

    I have an embarrassing question.

    I’ve been at my job for just under 2 years now and have always received stellar performance reviews. Recently, my company did a bandwidth audit. Just after that happened, I was called in to talk to the head of the IT department along with my supervisor.

    Apparently the audit revealed some concerns around my internet use. Specifically, the amount of bandwidth used. My company has a fairly laid back culture (pets in the office, meals provided at least once a week, strong focus on work-life balance) and everyone in the office is on social media daily. However, because I stream Pandora all day and occasionally pull up youtube (for music), my bandwidth usage has been flagged and my work ethic called into question.

    In my supervisor’s words, he has never been concerned about my performance before, but the results of the IT audit have given him pause. Now I am required to check in daily and report every activity I’ve completed. This has been going on for just over a week and I’m becoming increasingly frustrated.

    First of all, I’m really embarrassed by this whole thing. Secondly, I’m not sure how to go about repairing the relationship and my reputation.

    Any thoughts? Thanks in advance.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Did you explain about the use of Pandora? I would hope that the explanation along with your ongoing performance would definitely mitigate the bandwidth flag.

      1. Jaz*

        That’s precisely what I thought. Have you explained that you were just listening to music while working? You weren’t watching television shows and movies, for example. Be confident in that there were never any concerns about your work ethic before.

      2. Anon*

        I did, and he seemed to accept it. However, the dynamic of our relationship has subtly changed. He used to be a fairly hands-off manager, but now is verging on micromanaging (which I hate).

        For the first few days, he treated me differently too, but now the social aspect of our relationship has normalized, which is nice. I’m just concerned about the micromanaging and I’m afraid that this situation has sullied our professional relationship as well as my reputation.

        My annual review is in September, so I guess I’ll find out for sure then!

        I could probably just wait to see if it will blow over, but I wanted to see if anyone else has dealt with this situation or something similar before.

        I don’t think it helps that I am the youngest person in the office by at least 20 years (seriously–all of my co-workers are old enough to be my parents) and this is my first “real” job.

    2. Anon*

      Your supervisor’s response and the action plan seems a little over the top to me (I assume you explained that your bandwidth usage is due to Pandora/YouTube – e.g. background stuff that — theoretically — is not interfering with your productivity.) I would think IT can provide proof that you’re not surfing adult websites all day.

      That said, I guess if your manager has an issue with it, all you can do is apologize, promise it won’t happen again and stop using those sites during work. Maybe you can stream Pandora on a non-work smart phone instead?

      1. Anon*

        I did explain that. Besides, he is in and out of my office often enough to know that I listen to music all the time. Honestly, NOT listening to music would interfere with my productivity.

        Anyway, I have apologized and I’ve been streaming Pandora on my (non-work) tablet, which I leave clearly visible on top of the filing cabinet across the room from my desk (so that it’s obvious I’m not using it for any other purpose).

    3. My2Cents*

      Is your supervisor familiar with the reasoning behind an IT audit? Cost containment is very important right now and odds are your supervisor is getting pressed because of it as bandwidth costs the company lots of money. Keep in mind your performance includes the cost it takes to maintain you as employee. Depersonalize the conflict and reject any guilt – especially if music isn’t detracting from your work. Realize this might be something your supervisor has to implement for a time to prove things for you – it might just as well be a nuisance to him! The only other thing I might think about is why are you embarrassed? If you’re a stellar employee – you’re still a stellar employee. Don’t get knocked off your foundation for a little feedback and realize it’s only been a week. Have a nice weekend and relax – don’t let it get to you.

      1. Mike C.*

        But the issue brought up to the employee wasn’t cost containment, it was work ethic – and issue which is really personal to any given employee.

        1. Jamie*

          Right. Personally when we were having bandwidth issues in the past I’d kill the streaming because we needed the resources for work. If we were in a no streaming policy mode and someone did it anyway causing me to go in and block it – I’d get pissed…but otherwise?

          You can totally tell what is streaming and what is surfing and if streaming is allowed and not causing bandwidth issues I don’t even factor that into usage reports by user.

          And someone else mentioned IT maybe being concerned about their productivity…IT is lord and empress over IT issues (including usage policies) but usually productivity is in the manager’s wheelhouse to deal with.

          If the manager is getting pissy it just may be it was one more thing he didn’t want to deal with. I really wouldn’t worry about this.

        2. Natalie*

          I wonder if Anon’s manager is just not super tech-competent and doesn’t understand how much bandwidth streaming music can take. Perhaps the manager is suspicious that it can’t *just* be music.

          1. Pussyfooter*

            Does he understand the difference between different rates of bandwidth use between Pandora and the innocent sites the rest of the office uses? Did IT make it clear that your rate was the result of mainly one program–and that it’s the program he’s been hearing in your office, without problems, all along?

      2. Anon*

        Good points! Thanks. Maybe he does have to report my productivity back to IT–I hadn’t thought of it that way.

        I’m embarrassed because in my 10 years of work experience (retail, food service, university, tutoring, etc etc) I have NEVER been reprimanded for anything. I am just unsure of how to handle it. I’m typically a by-the-book rules person and I have never gotten into trouble with anyone other than my parents (which, now that I think about it, makes me sound incredibly naive and sheltered….sigh).

        1. Ruffingit*

          Well, you could always sit down with your manager and have a talk with him. Tell him you’re concerned about the change in his management style toward you and you’d like to discuss it. See what he has to say. It may very well be that he doesn’t understand that music streaming was not interfering with your work and/or that he doesn’t understand that streaming takes a lot of bandwidth and is concerned you were really doing something else. A lot of problems can be alleviated with some communication so give that a try.

      3. Chinook*

        I was thinking too that this high bandwidth usage also reflected badly on him and he has been called on the carpet to explain your performance (i.e. he must not be supervising you properly if you are causing this problem). If he hasn’t had a problemw ith you in the past, this may have caught him off guard and is making him rethink what he was doing as well.

        I know others are wondering why it is such a big deal because you were still working, but it did show up as a misuse of company resources and, depnding on the IT policy, you may have broken the rules. I am surprised that no one talked to you before about it because every IT policy I have ever signed has included a part about no streaming of music online (though we can play it on the cd player in the computer or bring in our own MP3 or radio).

    4. Mike C.*

      How stupid is your manager? “Wow, you’re getting all of your work done while listening to music, that sounds like a huge red flag to meeeee~ !”

      If they want you to cut back on the streaming/use of company resources that’s one thing, but to call into question your work ethic is simply insane.

      Your boss knows that people can work while music/the radio/etc is playing over their headphones, right?

      1. Anon*

        Apparently not! Anyway, as I mentioned above, I’m now listening to music without headphones so that he knows that’s what is going on (I do have a private office/door, so it’s not bothering anyone).

        To be fair, he was previously a very hands-off boss, so it’s not like he had a detailed knowledge of my day-to-day work. He does now, though!

        1. IT-person*


          It’s not clear from your answers if you stopped using Pandora on the company’s network. If you are continuing to use the company’s bandwidth to stream music, I’d stop now, because just placing your tablet away from where you are working won’t solve the problem if you continue to appear in the IT logs as consuming too much bandwidth. Like others said, you can bring your CDs, or use your own cellphone (not company’s wifi) to avoid any additional complaints.

    5. Brett*

      He might have taken some heat for you. After all, he has been giving you stellar reviews and now it turns out you were costing the company money. That might explain his concern now, and his intent might just be to make sure he can justify his good reviews.

      1. Anon*

        I don’t think money is the issue. This is a HUGE company. It’s national and there are 14+ offices in my city alone, so I doubt that little old me is costing them that much….

        1. Chinook*

          It may not seem like increased bandwidth costs should matter to such a large company, but if a number of people are doing it, those pennies can add up to big dollars. Keep in mind that you don’t know how many other people got caught up in this audit.

        2. Brett*

          Business bandwidth is surprisingly expensive. Our 30Mb pipe costs $10k/month. It may be a huge company and you might just be little old you, but streaming on business bandwidth does carry a cost.

          1. Jamie*

            It depends how much room you have within your current plan – we’re no where near your size, but the plan that worked for us leaves us enough room that people can typically stream without added cost or impact…but that’s because we have few streamers. If more people start doing it I’ll have to kill it for everyone because if there is no cost, fine….but we’re not paying extra to accommodate it.

            1. fposte*

              Do you or places you know differentiate between music and video when it comes to streaming policies?

              1. Jamie*

                I do in policy – because I want to be able to yank one and not the other. We do use youtube for work stuff at times and need that.

                Not as a tech thing, but as a management thing if I walk by and youtube is minimized and music is playing that’s fine…if a tv show is playing that’s an issue.

                And I say this as someone who absolutely plays reruns of the Golden Girls or a Ricky Gervaise podcast in the background when working alone in the office (otherwise I jump at each sound and I can’t work to music) but I wouldn’t do it with others in the building because it just sets a bad tone to have people watching tv at their desks…even if some are just using it for background noise it’s not something I want to parse out.

                1. Jamie*

                  I’m embarrassed that my love of all things Gallagher and Gervais and I’m still lost…what’s the connection?

                2. fposte*

                  On the Office Christmas DVD extra, he’s recording Freelove Freeway with Noel Gallagher. Weirdly not finding it on YouTube (I don’t think it says on the DVD that it’s Noel Gallagher, so maybe that’s why).

      2. Cat*

        If so, the company is dysfunctional. Maybe not fatally dysfunctional, but dysfunctional. A reasonable company would say “oh, this employee is costing us money because of streaming? We better change our streaming policy.” They would not say “this employee must suck and her manager must be stupid for giving her good performance reviews.”

    6. Becky*

      Did you explain to them what you are doing that is causing the increased bandwidth? It seems as though whoever is running the audit should be able to determine if the amount you are using matches with what you say you are doing during the day. What did your supervisor say when you explained that that’s what it was for (listening to music)?
      If you haven’t informed them of why your usage is higher I think that is the first step; not in an “excuse” way, but in a “I take work seriously and want to make sure you know that I am not wasting company time.”
      Another thing to consider; has your productivity been lower for any other reason lately? (Harder project, other outside influences, etc?) I work in a very similar environment, and I can’t imagine my supervisor taking issue with my internet bandwidth usage as long as my productivity was still good. If it has been lower, I would also talk to your supervisor about that.

      1. Becky*

        Sorry; so many other responses while I was typing, saying essentially the same thing. Give it some time; I am sure that your relationship with your boss will return to normal once he’s confident again that you are doing your job well. If he’s significantly older than you he might not be familiar with those services, and might think that you have the music you listen to stored locally somehow.
        Good luck!

        1. Pussyfooter*

          I bet he would relax if IT would show him that your bandwidth use has dropped to normal.
          You might ask if he can get those stats *before* your September review. Then either all would be well, or there’s some computer quirk that needs to be investigated–and I’d want to know about it to be proactive.

    7. Kathryn*

      I mean, have you explained the music to him, and that that’s what’s taking up bandwidth? It’s not like you’re downloading porn or constantly refreshing facebook. Maybe you could offer to switch to CDs or an MP3 player for a while or permanently to demonstrate that your bandwidth goes down.

      I assume that it’s noticeable (visible headphones or audible music) that you’re listening to music, so if he had a problem with that he would have mentioned it before. Can IT show him what you’re using the bandwidth for?

    8. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

      It sounds like this is being blown out of proportion by your manager. I would have just told my employee to cut back their internet use and maybe suggest bringing in a radio or Ipod etc…

      I would just suggest that you be honest with your manager and IT and let them know that you enjoy listening to music during the work day (helps you concentrate, relaxes you, helps you be more creative, whatever…) and that you didn’t realize that you were causing issues by hogging the bandwidth with using Pandora radio. Then ask if perhaps bringing in a radio would be more appropriate , or just say you will learn to live without it. Good luck!

    9. Allison*

      Your supervisor knows you’re working hard, but it’s possible someone in upper management believes that high bandwidth usage is a “red flag” and, according to some policy, warrants extra supervision. So maybe your supervisor has been told he has to keep an eye on you and implement extra management protocols.

    10. MovingRightAlong*

      It sounds like you’ve done everything you can to solve the issue based on the information that you have. It might be wise to grab some control over this situation by not waiting for your review to get further feedback. I’m not great at coming up with scripts, so perhaps someone else can chime in here, but you could approach your boss with something like, “I wanted to check in with you on the bandwidth issue. I’ve taken [this/these steps] to address it. Do you have any other concerns with my work?” My wording may sound a bit confrontational, but those would be the key points to address. The goals here are to a) let your boss know you’re taking the feedback seriously, b) make it absolutely clear that you’ve taken active steps to correct the problem, c) find out if there IS some other problem that you’re unaware of so you can start working on that NOW and not after the review, and d) show your boss that you’re proactively seeking to improve.

    11. Anonymoose*

      You said you apologized, but my only advice would be to make sure you’ve really conveyed how much this has impacted you. That you’re embarrassed this happened. That you take pride in your previous stellar performance reviews, that you care a great deal about being an excellent employee, and you feel terrible that this caused anyone to rethink their perspective on you. That you’re aware now that it was posing an issue and you’ll never do it again.

      I’m not saying to go grovel and self-flagellate, but it has been conveyed to you (rightly or wrongly) that this is A Big Deal to them, and you need to respond in kind – that you recognize it’s A Big Deal to them, you’re terribly sorry you’ve caused a problem and caused people to have concerns about your productivity or ethics, and as a person who values their work and their work reputation a great deal, you’re going to correct the issue.

      If you apologized but your boss kept the heat on you, it may be because he didn’t feel as though you really got how important or upsetting this was to him. He may just need to hear from you with the appropriate gravity he’s expecting that you Get It, and he can now consider this a problem solved.

      I have little doubt you’ll turn this around, and quickly. The fact that you care so much says a great deal about you.

    12. Lily*

      Your supervisor may have gotten in trouble for managing too little. To reassure him, cooperate fully until he regains his confidence in you (and his boss regains confidence in him). Has he been happy at each daily check-in? Make him happy and then see if you can report back at a particular stage in your work which is a few days in the future. As he regains confidence in you, the intervals will grow.

      William Oncken describes this strategy in Managing Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?

    13. jesicka309*

      I had the exact same thing happen to me two years ago – I’d been streaming podcasts whilst I worked, and leaving my personal email open every night incl. weekends because I was a stupid, stupid fool.

      It was unfortunately that I was the highest ranked user out of 20….and my department made up about 50% of all names on that list. Bosses were so mad…

      I was able to explain how my usage had gotten so high, and I was really lucky that I was known for my stellar performance (and to be honest, I’d been telling them I was bored for years at that point, so I secretly blamed them for knowing I was bored then punishing me for amusing myself).

      I handled it by putting my head down, pretending it never happened, and getting on with work. Sure, your reputation has taken a hit, but because they’ve dealt with it privately, the only people who know are you and your manager. You’re just going to have to rebuild all that kudos you already had….and just be lucky you were so highly regarded to start off with. :)

  12. Just a bit bummed*

    Well, apparently I was over zealous in doing what I thought was my job. I tried to help my friend and colleague with workload issues while also expanding on some of my job duties (the ones on paper that I never get to do), she didn’t want the help, so I apologized, went to our supervisor and told her to scratch all that I had said previously, but now my friend isn’t talking to me.

    I realize she may have decided to sacrifice our friendship to keep her sanity at work (we had many venting sessions and when I finally acted on one, I supposed she realized the venting was toxic and she’d just deal with her job the way it is) but I’m kinda bummed that I lost my friend. I have no hard feelings and I’m not mad but geez.

    Not many other choices around and not many friends in the area, so I’ll spend the long weekend at the movies or go to brunch and drown my sorrows in mimosas. I don’t have question, just sharing. Thanks.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      The thing to remember about venting is that many people just want a sympathetic shoulder to cry on, they don’t want people to do anything except listen and commiserate.

      Venting in and of itself isn’t necessarily toxic – it can be very healthy actually – but it is unfortunate that it cost you a friendship.

      1. Just a bit bummed*

        That’s true, but after a year hearing of the same thing, I just figured hey, why not lets try to shake things up…oh well. Onward and upward.

        The cute kitty did help though :)

    2. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

      Employees frequently vent to me. I have learned that (after they are finished venting ) to ask them whether or not they want me to act on the information given to me. Of course if they are venting about something horribly inappropriate going on, I would be forced to take action, however if they are griping about their manager or their workload etc… I always ask that question… sometimes it is unclear whether the person wants your help, or just wants you to listen. I would just give your friend a few days to cool off and then simply apologize and let her know that you did go back to your manager and explain that it was just a misunderstanding. I imagine your friend will come along eventually. It sounds like it was an honest mistake.

      1. Just a bit bummed*

        That’s a good technique, to just clarify if something needs to be done or if they just had to get that out.

        Perhaps in the future, I may just be honest with people, I’m not really the best person to vent to….

        Thanks all!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Just give her time and space; she may come around. It’s incredibly tiring to stay mad forever.

      Don’t feel bad about the weekend; you’re not the only one who doesn’t have plans. If I hadn’t been dumped, I would probably be on a plane to L.A. right this minute for a yearly gathering of our mutual online friends, but nooooo. >:{ My only consolation is that he’s not going either. So my weekend is going to be my stupid homework and fixing up a carved blanket chest I bought. It’s stripped; just needs sanding and refinishing. See pre-stripping photo here:

      If I have time, I’ll go see Elysium. By myself. /vent over

      1. Meg*

        I forgot Elysium was playing! I can totally go see it alone over in Boston, and then we can come back to AAM and talk about it :) (and also about how pretty Matt Damon is)

      2. Just a bit bummed*

        Oh, I don’t feel bad, I rarely have plans :) was just thinking of a distraction!

        You seem to have a productive weekend planned, keeping busy is good.

      3. Natalie*

        This is like the summer of break ups. My partner I ended our 8 year relationship a couple of weeks ago, and my cousin ended his 5 year relationship last month.

        Staying busy is really the key. I think I’m going to get a dog.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          We broke up a year ago. Unfortunately, in a metropolitan area of over 150,000 people, there doesn’t seem to be anyone who is interested in dating me what. so. ever. Nine years with nothing before I met him, and now apparently the rest of my life.

          I’d welcome a sinkhole right about now….

          And *hug*

    4. fposte*

      I feel like I’m missing the middle here. Did you take your friend’s venting as a cue to tell your supervisor, without telling your friend that you were going to, that you should be doing some of your friend’s work? If so, I’d say the takeaway is to share any action plan with a friend beforehand–even with good intentions, this is rather a step on the toes.

      1. Just a bit bummed*

        No, I told her I was going to toss around some ideas with our supervisor, but it’s all water under the bridge.

        It’s weird hierarchy to explain, we are on the same team, but not necessarily equal, if that explains why I would ‘go over her head’ for lack of a better term.

    1. Laufey*

      Biweekly is one of those weird words with two meanings – either twice a week or once every two weeks.

      This where the word “fortnightly” would have been useful.

      1. Chinook*

        Thank you Laufey for explaining to me “fortnightly.” I would read that word in British books and thought it meant something longer than a week (and never bother enough to look it up in a dictionary). I now have learned my new thing for the day and can turn my brain off!

        1. Laufey*

          I love the word “fortnight” and wish I could use it more often. Doesn’t tend to come up very often.

          1. MJ*

            Ooooh, I’m learning something! I’m in New Zealand and ‘fortnight/fortnightly’ is super, super common; I never realised it’s not an oft-used word in other parts of the world!

            1. Felicia*

              I only know the word fortnight because I read a lot of British books as a kid, which is the only place I encountered it.

    2. Calla*

      But some months have five Fridays, like August, and could result in three Friday open threads, right? (Also, although I know “bimonthly” can mean twice a month, I most frequently see bi-weekly/monthly to mean “every two ___.”)

    3. CollegeAdmin*

      “Biweekly” can either mean twice a week or every two weeks, and “bimonthly” can mean either twice a month or every two months.

      Sometimes I really hate the English language (and I was a linguistics major!).

      1. Chinook*

        As I once told a grade 3 student after he flunked yet another spelling test “English is a stupid language but don’t tell anyone I said that.”

        I then told him that the spelling rules are more like guidelines and that it sucks but you just have to memorize all the exceptions. He seemed satisified with that response and passed his next exam.

    4. TK*

      I was always taught that biweekly, bimonthly, biennial, etc. properly means “every other week/month/year/etc.” and the correct term for twice a week/month/year is semiweekly, semimonthly, semiannual, etc. But these meanings have pretty much collapsed and “bi-” now generally can mean “twice a whatever” as well.

      1. Liz in a library*

        Yes, this was how I have always understood it as well. I didn’t actually know that biweekly is accepted to mean “twice a week” as an alternate meaning now…how odd!

        1. Anonymous*

          I second that, with the important part being that semimonthly = 24 pay periods a year and biweekly = 26 pay periods a year :)

    5. A Strange One*

      Bi- means two (a bicycle has two wheels) and semi- means half (a semicircle is half of a circle). Biweekly is every two weeks and semimonthly is twice per month (an important distinction if you’re talking about paychecks–26 vs. 24 per year).

      1. KarenT*

        Semi monthly does mean twice a month, but bimonthly still does mean twice a month or every two months. It’s the fun of English!

    6. Rana*

      And if you really want to throw a wrench into the works, start using the word “next” in your scheduling. It turns out that people have very different ideas about what “next Saturday” means (some will think it means tomorrow, while others will think it means a week from tomorrow).

      1. Jamie*

        This! To me next always means the one coming up. The NEXT one…but so many people think it means the one after that.

        Why do they think that??

        1. Rana*

          I think it’s a distinction between “this Saturday” and “that later Saturday.” But at this point I get confused about it myself (sigh) so I always just give dates.

        2. Lily*

          People who mean a week from tomorrow probably think of “next week Saturday” This can still be problematic if people disagree on when the week starts: Sunday or Monday.

        3. TK*

          I agree with the other commenters that this usage (which I generally use myself) is a result of eliding the word “week.” The full expression would be this [week] Saturday, as distinct from next [week] Saturday.

          1. Pussyfooter*

            My vocabulary has gotten so much better lately.
            ….elide? I’m 41–never heard it before.
            And recently noticed that there are two discretes/discreets.
            Still loving eggcorn best.

  13. Lily*

    In a job I hate, hate, hate. Starting IVF soon. If another job offer arises, does it make any sense to take it given my circumstances? Or just wait out until after the whole giving birth thing (assuming it all happens the way it’s supposed to).

    1. Jaz*

      I say take the new job (if it has good maternity leave). As you know, there’s no guarantee that you will have a baby at X time, but there is a guarantee that you will hate your job! Plus, do you really want to deal with a job you hate while raising your baby?

    2. some1*

      I would not do it if it meant a lapse in my benefits coverage, but I don’t know what your situation is.

    3. Jen*

      Are you in the US? You would not be able to take FMLA unless you’ve been at a job for a year. So sadly, I would probably stay where I am. Health coverage and FMLA will be there for you with no problem.

    4. jennie*

      Whatever will cause you less stress. I stayed at my job through IVF because they’re very cool about time off for appointments, etc. I couldn’t picture starting a new job and establishing a reputation as reliable while going through all that.

      Good luck!

    5. VictoriaHR*

      When I was TTC, I gave up on the job that caused me to cry on my drive home every night and was a very toxic environment. Went to a great new job and was pregnant within a month. Stress does have an impact!

      1. Lily*

        I’m in the US, so yup I wouldn’t qualify for FMLA if I start a new job and get pregnant right away. So hard to decide what to do because this job is really stressing me out and I’m unhappy, but it’s also a known quantity and who knows what this new job will be like or if they will flip out if I get pregnant soon after starting. On the other hand, who knows if IVF will work or how long any of this will take and in the meantime, I’m miserable with no end in sight.

        1. Cat*

          I know a number of people who started new jobs while pregnant (but before it was obvious). What they did was wait until they got an offer then discuss maternity leave during the negotiation stage. I don’t know that there’s any reason you couldn’t do the same regarding maternity leave if you weren’t pregnant. Yes, you’re disclosing something to your employer that you wouldn’t normally, but since you’re currently employed, you also will have the freedom to walk if you get a sense you’re going to be punished for that fact.

        2. Kathryn in Finance*

          I don’t know if it requires you to switch health insurances or not, but be careful if you switch jobs while you are pregnant. Definitely look at the health insurance carefully. I don’t know if it matters if you are the primary on the insurance or not, but when my friend’s husband switched jobs, his new insurance wouldn’t cover her pregnancy because it was a pre-existing condition. She ended up with close to $10,000 in medical bills when she had complications during her pregnancy.

          1. Rana*

            That’s a very good point. I believe under ACA they’re no longer allowed to do that, but if you’re self-insuring, count on getting no coverage if you’re already pregnant, as most plans require you to pay premiums on a maternity rider for a year before coverage kicks in. (ACA means that very basic stuff – prenatal visits, one or two tests – will be covered, but nothing beyond that, and certainly not the birth.)

            I’d also check your state’s regulations regarding coverage of IVF; some mandate it, some don’t, but the ones do usually have qualifications with regards to employer size, etc.

            1. TL*

              ACA won’t allow healthcare to deny because of pre-existing conditions anymore, yes. Also, it expands maternity coverage requirements.

    6. saro*

      As someone who went through fertility treatments, I suggest just taking the job and moving on with your life. Take a look at the maternity leave at the new job though!

      Hopefully, it won’t take you as long as it did for me, but I regret putting a number of goals, both professional and personal, on hold during that time. Good luck!

    7. Rana*

      I’d be inclined to take the new job offer, simply because IVF will be stressful and you’ll be tired and hormonal, and dealing with job crap will not be fun under those conditions.

      However! I would make sure that your RE’s schedule and your new job’s schedule will mesh, because you’ll be going to the RE a lot. Most RE’s will schedule things early in the morning to accommodate this, but it’s something to take into consideration. (I didn’t have to do this, but was researching it, so I got a pretty good look at the challenges.)

      Good luck!

  14. PontoonPirate*

    I have a bit of a conundrum–stay with me, friends:

    I’m a program coordinator at a nonprofit; I manage an intensive, in-school program that works with students to build socio-emotional skills and improve school climate. My program is an offshoot of the agency’s mission, which is to build a more just society (we are a cultural center). Our staff is very small–essentially, I’m the only one who can do what I do, and only one other staff member has a role in the program.

    I took the job to grow the program–and I like to think that I have in a vertical way–before I got here, unbeknownst to me, my position had essentially become “unfunded” because our grant money for it had run out and the person who is supposed to manage grants… didn’t.

    In the time that I’ve been here, I’ve been asked to expand the services offered by the program, which I am pleased to do–but the catch is, I’m also being asked to do parts of other people’s job because our manager is a poor one who doesn’t hold anyone accountable. Rather than set and follow through on expectations, he just keeps shuffling the work around until nobody really knows what their job IS anymore. His justification is that, as a nonprofit, we should be prepared to do whatever is needed to help the mission.

    I’m all for helping out where and when I can, but I can’t be effective in managing my program when he is so reactionary. Essentially, he responds to whatever is in front of him, constantly changing our priorities and becoming upset when we ask for more consistent plans and expectations. There’s also no room for professional development, and I am finding myself more and more uncomfortable with delivering services and information to vulnerable populations when I myself have maybe just learned those things the day before, but my boss has decided that there’s no room in the budget for any development for me beyond what I can get for free (which is not much).

    He also takes credit for my ideas, tells me constantly he’s not sure he can justify my position, and goes around saying that nobody is irreplaceable. Well, that’s true, but it doesn’t feel great to hear it all the time! And I should mention that most of the staff is experiencing the same issues in their own rights.

    I’ve started looking for another job, and I think I’m going to be getting an offer soon. Here’s are my questions:

    1) Is what I described the new normal in management? I hope not, given what I’ve read here, but maybe I need to reframe my expectations in a nonprofit job.

    2) The new job is doing PR/press management–it’s something I would like to excel in, and there are more opportunities for growth (and I’d finally get paid a market rate), but I would have to leave behind the awesome parts of the kind of work I do now–the collaborations with other agencies, the presentation and learning experience designing, etc. Am I over-thinking this aspect? Is there a way to make the decision easier?

    3) Is there a way I can make my boss aware that I may be leaving because of these things without it seeming like I’m hunting for a counter-offer? I don’t want to do that, but if he would start following through on expectations and consider the salary adjustments that we all so desperately need, I would be happy to stay. Am I living in fantasy land?

    TL;DR: When do you know it’s time to cut bait, even if the next pond may not be as personally satisfying but ultimately more stable and financially rewarding?

    1. FD*

      To quote Alison: Your manager is an ass.

      Now, managers do take credit for their subordinate’s achievements in the sense that putting together a successful team reflects well on a manager. For example, a good manager may say, “My team came up with a new and innovative way to do X, which has increased our revenues by 25%.” But that’s completely different from saying “I came up with a new and innovative way…”

      It might be true, generally, that everyone can be replaced but a good manager also doesn’t keep saying that. Why? Because it wrecks morale, and if a person feels like they’re not valued, they’re likely to cut out for greener pastures where they are. So it’s just plain a stupid thing to say.

      However, don’t try to get a counter offer by this. If it was only the money it’d be worth it, but your boss sounds like he’s a jerk. It’s not worth it.

      As to the things you’ll miss, I’d say every job–even the worst one–has things you’ll like and dislike. But if at NewJob you find you miss those things too much, you could always look for another job that will allow you to work in those areas. You aren’t locked into doing one thing for the rest of your life.

      Best of luck!

      1. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

        Yes, I agree with the “manager is an ass” statement! This is not typical manager behavior. It sounds like he is unorganized and doesn’t know what he is doing. You made the right decision looking for a new position. You don’t want to burn your bridges with your former employer but you certainly could provide feedback to your manager (or whomever is doing your exit interview) on some of your top reasons for taking a new position.; more consistent plans and expectations, professional training and development, etc… However, being that he is an ass, it is doubtful that he will take action on your feedback, so you may just want to escape and be done with him.

    2. Brett*

      Is the new job at another non-profit/agency?

      If so, then you may be able to bring the awesome parts of your old work into your new work. It sounds like many of those may be natural fits to a PR position. So, ask new potential employer if those are elements you might be able to bring to your new position after you get settled in (don’t try to add them right away).

      1. PontoonPirate*

        Thanks, FD and Brett: Your points about incorporating the things I do love (and know that I’m good at, whereas I’ll be learning a lot of the PR-end) over time are great perspective-changers–and yes, it’s for another non-profit, but a much larger one.

        I’m so mired in flight-or-fight right now that I’m not sure which way is up, so the outside perspective on things is critical. :)

    3. COT*

      To answer your questions based on my experience working in nonprofits (and some small, budget-limited ones where I’m the only one able to do my role):

      1) No, this doesn’t have to be normal. Even in nonprofits there are good managers who understand how to run programs effectively without a lot of resources. I’ve worked for many of them.

      2) Is this another nonprofit job? If so, I think there’s almost always room to collaborate and network. I really enjoy that aspect of nonprofit work, and I, too, was afraid of losing it when I switched jobs a few months ago. But not only have I managed to stay connected to my former contacts (it turns out our work and/or personal lives still overlap more than I expected) but I’ve gotten to connect to new great people, too. It’s definitely a great asset in this sector to know who to ask when you have a question, who to contact when you want to share resources, etc. And at nonprofits there’s usually room to add job duties that you really enjoy and are skilled at, even if they’re not in the initial job description. You might not have to entirely give up those awesome aspects of your current job.

      3) I don’t think there’s a good way to tell your boss you’re looking given how reactionary he is. He hasn’t shown himself to be a clear, rational person under stress. You might say something like, “I think that the way we operate is causing stress to employees, and here’s how I’d like to refocus my work” but I wouldn’t get explicit about your plans to leave. I don’t think your workplace’s issues are fixable.

      1. PontoonPirate*

        I don’t think they are fixable either. He makes a lot of noise about getting us moving in the right direction, but takes no ownership of his role in it.

        More generally, I just feel guilty. Leaving will potentially cause an interruption in program services that are already scheduled and I hate to see that happen. But that’s not a good enough reason to stay, either.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      1– No. Ass alert.

      2– You may find new awesome things in PR/press management that you never knew existed. What you’re thinking is awesome now isn’t worth this crappy of a job.

      3– NO NO NO NO. Don’t tell your boss you’re leaving until you have a firm offer, in writing, and a start date from the new job. He is not going to change.

      TL;DR–if you’re asking yourself these questions, then it’s already past time. If you get the offer, take it, give notice, move out of Poorly-managed Hellhole, and enjoy.

    5. periwinkle*

      1. Your manager is a poor manager. The threat of you leaving won’t magically transform him into a good one. Leave.

      2. Have some mercy/pity on those you’ll leave behind. A reactionary manager like this will not arrange for you to train someone else on your duties and is unlikely to have a clue how to help those who take over your duties. He’ll just react, in a panic. Document what you do (or at least what you’re supposed to do as opposed to putting out his fires), where information is stored, who to contact in what situation, where the templates are kept (if there are any), and anything else that will keep the critical work continuing until they hire a replacement. This may help forestall calls from your former boss or co-workers asking for help because they haven’t got a clue what to do.

      3. In the future make sure you document your ideas, and perhaps ensure that more than one person knows about them *and* their origin. Just in case.

    6. VictoriaHR*

      I would recommend sitting down with AssManager (ha) and stating how his behaviors negatively affect your work (with concrete examples from recent events). I believe that everyone can change, given the proper feedback and willingness to change. If he’s never received the proper feedback, he may not know of the need to change. If he resists or blows you off, then you can feel confident in your search for a new job.

  15. indyjones*

    I resigned from a job I have held for 5 years and my manager sent a departmental email today letting the group know. I have given 3 weeks notice due to the number of responsibilities that have to be transitioned. I have been a valuable employee here and have good relationships with a number of people at the company. The responses to the news (to me directly) in several cases have been emotional and difficult. Any advice people have about how to gracefully handle the next three weeks would be appreciated. I realize it is flattering that people are genuinely very upset that I am leaving, but it is quite awkward as well. I am looking forward to the new job which is a great opportunity for me, but am trying very hard not to let that show. How do I diffuse the situations and communications on this front? How do people handle questions about why they are leaving (is it professional to reveal the new position, which is at a competitor)?

    1. littlemoose*

      Your coworkers’ concerns about your departure is likely both personal (yay, they like you!) and professional (you do key tasks or have special knowledge that they rely on and will miss when you’re gone). For the former, just be gracious and let everyone know you will keep in touch (if you want to, of course). For the latter, just document, document, document as much as you can before you leave. Ask your coworkers what specifically they are concerned they will have trouble doing before you leave, and write it down. Even informal notes will really help your coworkers. You have given three weeks’ notice, so hopefully you have some time to wrap these things up. Maybe even a training session with some other coworkers, or an opportunity for them to ask you questions before you leave, would be helpful.

    2. Anonymous*

      I’m in a similar position – I’m about to announce that I’m leaving a position I’ve had for over 7 years for a new one in the company. I have 50 direct reports now. The new one is a creative production role with no direct reports. I’ve been burned out for over a year and am looking for a new direction in my career.

      I’m very worried about how my employees are going to take the news. Some of them have been with me since I joined the organization, and I’ve been responsible for hiring almost all of them.

      So I can commiserate with what you are going through. Be gracious, tell people you will miss them, but try not to take their upset too personally. People do not like change. They are upset, but not necessarily upset with you. They will get over it once things settle down and start to return to normal. Anyone who actually mad at you for pursuing a great opportunity for yourself are being unfair.

  16. FD*

    Ooh, ooh! I’m so glad we’re doing this today, I was longing for an open thread!

    Okay, so.

    I’ve been working at this job for about two years. OldManager was absolutely awful–wrecked morale, left the budget in atrocious state, and was generally a terrible manager. He got fired and replaced with NewManager.

    NewManager is awesome and has been encouraging me to go to networking events to expand my contacts, since he knows I want to advance in our field and he doesn’t have any place to promote me to with us.

    Here’s my problem.

    OldManager invariably shows up at these events for whatever company he’s working for this week (it’s been several different ones). He’s notorious for cornering people from my job and sucking up their time–not just mine but anyone he runs into, which I know because several people from my company who have gone to events have complained about the same thing. He also really doesn’t have any sense of boundaries–he asked NewManger for us to buy his consulting services after he got fired!

    Subtle cues just don’t work with this guy, as you can imagine, and I have absolutely no interest in networking with him. Is there an appropriate way to tell him to buzz off and leave me alone, or do I need to accept it as part of the networking event package?

    1. Jaz*

      Say, “it was nice seeing you again Old Manager” and then walk over to someone else. Polite and firm. You are under no obligation to keep talking to him when you don’t want to. Chit chat for 2-3 minutes if he corners you then walk away.

      1. FD*

        Yeah, I’ve tried that. That’s what I meant by subtle cues. He keeps trying. Also, he’s one of those people that you can’t even get a word in edgewise to make excuses like that.

        1. JamieG*

          Boundaries! You can’t stop him from trying to talk to you, but you can make it clear that you’re not going to listen. If he comes up to you again shortly after you’ve excused yourself, don’t let him get started; “It was nice seeing you, but I’d like to meet some new people/whatever” and walk away.

          If what you’re looking for is a polite way to say “Never talk to me again,” I’m not sure that’s possible. But you can definitely limit the impact he has during these events.

        2. Chinook*

          If you can’t get a word in edgewise with old manager, then talk over him, tell him that you need to go see someone (don’t mention a name, it is just an excuse) and leave.

          If he blocks your way, tell him assertively but with a polite tone “please let me pass.” If he refuses, drop the please and repeat. If he still won’t, then push past him.

          If he physically touches you in any way, look at the offending body part then look him in the eye and tell him to stop touching you. If he doesn’t stop, repeat and move away. If he still won’t, raise your voice to almost a yell and repeat “stop touching me.” That should get everyone’s attention around you.

          Now, those last two scenarios probably won’t happen but it is good to have a plan in your head if you are worried they might because it will give you a sense of control. This man is a boor and a bully and while you still want to be professional because you are at a client, you need to be assertive and tell him to stop the behaviour in no uncertain terms. Speaking as someone who hates making eye contact and only makes a scene when overley emotional, I can understand how uncomfortable this can be, but it must be done.

          1. FD*

            He may block my way; the last one isn’t likely, but I’ll keep that in mind.

            Thanks for the advice!

            I think sometimes I was letting my sense of “I can’t do anything about this situation” from when he was my manager get in the way of remembering that I *can* do something about it now.

            Seriously, though, the hutzpah of this guy.

        3. Lindsay*

          When someone doesn’t recognize appropriate social boundaries, they are giving you the complete and total go-ahead to treat them appropriately.

          Since he doesn’t “get” subtle, don’t be subtle. Just say “excuse me” and literally walk away from him. It’s not a big deal.

          I’ve had to do this with coworkers and it works fine.

        4. HumbleOnion*

          You don’t need to get a word in – just say ‘Excuse me’, and turn & walk away. He can only monopolize your time if you let him.

          1. Pussyfooter*

            It occurs to me you don’t have to say anything. Either walk away, or stare + ignore…hum a little song…start counting your business cards…I mean, he’s ignoring you right? Conversation over.

    2. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

      When he approaches you, say hello, but make no attempt at small talk. Act like you were in the process of taking care of some important business. “Nice to see you, but I was just on my way to meet with a colleague/fax some paperwork/jump on a conference call”. Or “sorry that I don’t have time to catch up with you, hope everything is going well with your new position” and then start doing something else like. Now since this guy has no social boundaries, he may not properly interpret your signals to exit the conversation and you may need to be more direct “The consulting services you are offering are really not something that is going to be a good fit for us, but good luck with your new business endeavor”.

      This reminds me when a friend of mine told me that her former (creepy) manager had taken on a new job in auto sales and was constantly calling her and pressuring her to buy a car from him. Very awkward!

      1. Pussyfooter*

        Hah! If a creepy person quit being my boss, then started harassing me with unwanted phone calls, I would Relish the Opportunity to tell him to go jump in a lake. (you know–if I wasn’t going to need him as a reference–ever.)

    3. Pussyfooter*

      You’ve given me good responses a couple times when I was down, and I’ve been out of the house for most of today–totally missed this…And after all my TMI about the difficult people in my life and setting boundaries.

      Several people already gave the best actions to use. I’d add that:

      1) If this guy physically blocks people from walking away from him, he is not *missing* social cues to stop. He is consciously ignoring them, and using people’s fear of embarrassment in a public forum to ignore their wishes. (I wasn’t sure if you meant you already know that.)

      2) After you’ve effectively broken his offensive a few times, he may avoid you. But expect to “manage” his bad behavior indefinitely. It stops being nerve-wracking once you’ve experienced this working :)

      3) Chinook’s steps of escalation is brilliant (and I’m stealing it).
      If her exact steps aren’t right for your situations, substitute ones that are. But having a bunch of options for any level of stupid you encounter is great.

      4) In case what’s posted today isn’t quite the right thing you wind up needing, I found it helped me *enforce* boundaries when I could name which tactic was being employed against me. I once spent a couple weeks google-ing specific behaviors and advice on how to deal with different ones. The best search terms I can recall at the moment were “manipulation tactics” and “verbal manipulation techniques,” but I know there are more.

      Good luck :)

  17. Pleiades*

    I’m applying for a position as an assistant to a division of an art museum. The application asks for salary requirements and I have no idea what to put. I’ve been Googling all over the place but the salaries I have found are for full-fledged curators, conservationists, etc….whereas I would merely be an assistant to the entire department.

    (This could be my big break into a different career, though, so I’d like to be within a reasonable ballpark. Any advice appreciated! I’ve already been volunteering for this museum for a couple of years. )

        1. Kate*

          I’m in Atlanta, which has a relatively low cost of living. If it’s an administrative role that doesn’t require specialized knowledge of the field, something in the 30s would be normal in Atlanta. Depending on the cost of living in your region, a higher salary may be the norm.

          One tip for figuring out non-profit salaries is to look at open positions on and, and see what various organizations are offering. Of course plenty of places won’t list salaries, but it’s a start.

    1. Jenny S.*

      What kind of experience are they looking for? Is this something like “1-3 years”? I assume, as an assistant, this is a semi-entry level or junior staff member role.

      In the Midwest (specifically Chicago), those kinds of positions usually pay between $25K and $30K. Mid-Atlantic might be slightly higher. ($35K?)

      1. Pleiades*

        Thank you! My guesstimate was 28-32K.

        Phew – I’m glad to know I wasn’t completely off base.

        1. Anon*

          I’m also in your region and in my experience with arts organizations/museums in my city, that’s a totally reasonable range. However, don’t be surprised if the job starts lower. While it certainly depends on museum/department, I was a little surprised to find out how low the salaries are at our biggest, internationally known museum. Ah, gotta love the arts!

  18. LV*

    I currently work for the federal government. My contract is short-term, expiring in 6 weeks and not renewable within the calendar year, but TPTB decided they want to have 2 people in my role on board until the end of the fiscal year (March 31st). So my job was re-posted externally with 2 positions available. I applied for it and just got a generic email from HR inviting me to an interview with my boss.

    My question is, how do I prepare for this? I’ve never had to interview for a job that I already have. It’s not that I am not taking this seriously – but I am imagining being asked by my boss, “Do you have any experience doing X, Y and Z?” and it’s a struggle to come up with an answer that’s not, “Um, you’ve seen me do it every day for months now” or “Yes, I do that here… in this very job… which I am already working in.”

    I really love this job, have gotten great feedback from my boss and her boss, and get along with everybody. It would be ridiculous if I somehow managed to blow the interview for a job I already have and weren’t kept on board!

    1. Elizabeth*

      I had to do a formal application & interview when I got an internal promotion.

      I took the chance to review what I had done in my tenure and make a list of important projects I had been a part of and what I had done to further the organization’s mission. I ended up with better than 2 pages, most of which was 2 & 3-line short descriptions. I used that as reference material for examples when I did the interview with my boss. I also fleshed it out and gave him a copy to put with his materials on my application.

      In your example, in response to “Do you have any experience doing X, Y and Z?”, I would say something like “Yes, on a daily basis I am responsible for this much of X, all of Y and this part of Z. I’m proficient with the tools that are necessary to accomplish the tasks associated with X and Y. While I can do Z, I would like to learn more about the processes and systems behind it to become more adept at it.”

      1. Marilla*

        Exactly this. I’ve interviewed for my position a few times now (including interviewing for a promotion and interviewing for a permanent position as opposed to contract). Your experience in the job itself is definitely a plus – review what you’ve done and identify some stories you can highlight (major projects that you accomplished, any conflicts you resolved, etc).

        1. Anonymous*

          Excellent points. We had a major reorganization so I ended up interviewing for two open positions – one I had been doing for about a year and the other a promotion back to a department I had managed for 10. As you might expect the questions were not as much about daily responsibilities but focused more on accomplishment, philosophy, approach, planning for the future, etc.

    2. littlemoose*

      Given that it’s the government, they may have to do the formal interview process. Plan for it like any other interview, but be sure to be prepared to specifically list your best achievements. With an internal interview, you have the benefit of your interviewers already knowing about your work duties, so when you speak about specifics, they’ll know what you’re talking about. Maybe bring copies of positive feedback?

  19. Chinook*

    I just read an article about Canadian courts saying that it is legal for employers to use GPS to track employees who work offsite (as long as employees are informed) and thought it would be great for discussion here.

    What I am confused about, though, is why someone would be opposed to this. After all, my employer is paying for my time they are tracking and there are benefits to myself (safety being number 1). Woudl anyone here be upset by the idea of their employer tracking them with a company issued phone or vehicle?

    1. Trillian*

      I would not object if
      – I knew they were doing it in advance
      – I knew what they were doing it for
      – I knew who would have access to the data
      – I had a time-frame for it being deleted and purged
      – I could trust they would actually secure it
      – I had nothing to fear, personally, from anyone in the company

      1. Colette*

        That brings up a good point. I wouldn’t care if my manager knew where I was and when I was there – but if, for example, I’d just broken up with someone or had a huge altercation with a coworker, I wouldn’t necessarily want them to know where i was, particularly if I was on my own.

        And if I were someone who typically said I was one place but actually went somewhere else, I’d likely be adamantly against this.

    2. Jubilance*

      I would only object if they are tracking and collecting information while I’m off the clock. There are some people who are allowed to use their company cars/phones for personal use and I wouldn’t want activity done on my non-work time to get tracked. If they are only tracking during work hours or their employees can only use company phones/cars for work purposes, then I wouldn’t object if I was properly informed.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      One situation I saw the employees were required to install the GPS themselves ON THEIR OWN TIME.
      Additionally, the boss was a micro manager. “How come you used highway 13 when highway 21 was quicker?” {Traffic report said vehicle break down and 40 minute delays.}
      “Why did you spend a half hour on First St.?” {I was at the vet’s picking up meds for my dying dog. I worked 45 minutes extra to compensate for my time.}
      “I see by the GPS that you are STILL at X location. You have been there two hours. You need to leave NOW. What do you mean you are not done at that location? I said leave now.”

      Every. Single. Conversation.

  20. LOLwhut*


    Here’s a question for y’all… anyone ever gone back to a company they previously left left for what they thought would be greener pastures?

    I had a decent job at a nonprofit, with the best manager I ever had. After two years, I left for a company that was closer and could pay a little more. Unfortunately, the job was a nightmare, and I was let go before I could quit. I got lucky and found a new job after a few months of unemployment.

    Recently, my old position opened back up, and my manager reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in applying.

    Now, I made it clear when I left that I was leaving for money, nothing else. If my manager is reaching out to me, I can only believe she can scrape up a little more this time, otherwise I don’t think she’d bother asking. I’m a little conflicted but I loved working for her and I’d absolutely come back if the money was right.

    So, anyone ever gone back to their old company? What was it like when you returned?

    1. IndieGir*

      I’ve gone back to an old company, and I’ve gone back to old departments within the same company. Like you, in both instances it was because my old boss wanted me back. Since THEY are the ones who contacted YOU, I think you are in great shape to return. It’s not like you are crawling back in defeat — they don’t have to know how much you hate your current role. If she can meet your salary demands, then I say, go for it. In my case, we made a joke about the fact that I had left for another company for less than a year. We decided that was the best way to know what the competition was up to!

    2. Risa*

      This happens all the time at my current company – we call them boomerangs. No one generally thinks anything of it…. If you really liked the manager, and they can get to a salary you can accept – go for it!

    3. EM*

      We had an employee who left to pursue a side business but came back. We all bemoaned his absence because he had a unique skillset. He was welcomed back with open arms.

  21. Natalie*

    I am struggling with volunteer recruitment, which is new for me.

    I’m involved in a couple of committees for a nonprofit that manages a particular outdoor public space. Earlier this summer, I took on the chair of the gardening committee as it had gone into hiatus twice in 3 years due to lack of a chair. By mid-summer, the bar for success for the committee was low enough that I felt like I could give it a shot, and I wouldn’t feel bad if I completely flamed out.

    Because of all of the hiatuses (hiati?) the committee has lost all but one of their regular volunteers, so basically it’s just me and the one volunteer. Since it’s gardening oriented we had to jump into the garden maintenance immediately and I haven’t had any time to think about getting more volunteers. A number of things are lining up in a such a way that I think I can focus more intently on the volunteer issue this fall and winter than I have been able to this summer.

    The nature of the work is that we really need committed volunteers that can volunteer frequently for shorter periods of time, versus large groups that do a whole day event.

    Any suggestions, or recommended books/websites/forums would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Brett*

      If you can have an occasional big 1-2 hour event, it will be easier to find volunteers.

      Use social media. Post volunteer opportunities (time and place) on facebook and twitter. Post pictures of your projects on pinterest, with links to more information on how to volunteer.

      If you have a small budget, considering creating a group on This has become a very common forum for organizing small volunteer groups; it makes it easy for others in your area to find you.

      You can also go to volunteer recruitment services. The Corporation for National & Community Service (people behind AmeriCorps) have a list of resources here:

    2. COT* is a good free resource to post volunteer opportunities and they offer free webinars about volunteer recruitment and management. You may also have a local volunteer resource hub (perhaps through the Points of Light network) that can help you get started.

      I know that my state university’s extension service is heavily involved in gardening work; yours could be a good place to try if you have something similar. Also think about recruiting through local gardening clubs, etc. It’s important to have a clear idea of what/how you want the volunteers to work, what the time commitment is, and issues like that before you recruit. Write a simple job description just like you would for a paid job. The more you look like you’ve thought this through and are prepared to give volunteers a good experience, the more success you’ll have.

      Good luck!

      1. TK*

        +1 for the recommendation of state university extension services. My mom has worked her entire career for the one in my home state, and it’s a fantastic resource that a lot of people don’t know much about. Every state has them, and even though they were created primarily to give advice about agriculture (and are still a tremendous resource for that in rural areas), they do so much more now!

      2. Windchime*

        Another vote for the state university extension service. My mom was a member of the Master Gardeners group that is part of the state extension. It’s a competitive program that is totally volunteer. They complete a program so they have extensive knowledge about plants, and then they do tons of volunteer projects–some of the projects Mom has been involved with include creating and maintaining a xeroscape garden at a local public park, counting trees and examining them for health/pest problems, and staffing a desk where people can bring in plants/bugs for diagnosis in their gardens.

        We are in Washington state, if that matters. If you have a state extension and it has a Master Gardener’s program, try contacting them. Good luck!

    3. COT*

      I’d recommend’s free webinars as well as your local volunteer resource hub (try the Points of Light network) as good starting places to learn about volunteer recruitment and management.

      For recruiting volunteers, try your state university extension service, local gardening clubs, etc. Develop a “job description” with clear parameters for duties and time commitment. The more you show that you’re prepared and organized to give volunteers a good experience, the more of them you’ll attract. Good luck!

      1. COT*

        Oops, sorry for the double post. I got an error when posting my first one so I thought it didn’t go through.

    4. My2Cents*

      Try Facebook Graph Search – there are tons of public profiles. What interests would be in common with this line of work? What books/movies/etc would they like?

    1. Jamie*

      I glanced – I can’t even look directly at the pic or I will be lost in cuteness for the rest of the day and lose my cold and calculating authoritative edge.

      1. Lucy*

        I was just telling my husband about my new “when i grow up” dream…

        I’ll start entry level, looking at kitten pictures all day and ranking based on cuteness. Then I’ll be promoted with a raise, and added responsibility of managing those looking at kitten pictures, with minor work and training for kitten photography. Then eventually I aspire to be a director, which will give me the responsibility of kitty casting calls and talent search.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          I’d hate that job — all those pictures, and no kitten fur in my fingers! It would be like looking at pictures of chocolate cake and fresh strawberries. Alison is just taunting us, because she has the fur and toes and whiskers and nose and we just have the photo.

          1. Lucy*

            Well you know that’s just entry level. You can move up to actual kitteh handling, but you have to prove yourself first.

        2. nyxalinth*

          Well, if the Cheezburger Network is hiring, go for it :D I would if I had more of a techie background!

        3. Al Lo*

          In filming “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” there was an entire “kitten unit” that solely filmed the kittens that appeared the decorative plates in Umbridge’s office. Sounds right in line with your “when I grow up” dream!

    2. Pussyfooter*

      I can’t believe I had to scroll so far down to find the “kitteh” part of the thread! That is such a cool photo.
      If that’s the foster kitten and it will need a new family, I hope Alison is planning to show these photos to prospective “parents.” A really expressive photo can boost a kitty’s chance at a good home :’)

    3. Windchime*

      If I didn’t already have a cat, I would love to adopt this little kitten. She is the most adorable thing.

  22. Calla*

    Here’s a question. My girlfriend is currently job-searching. She’s a home health aide in a small town in the middle of nowhere. She has some admin experience through work-study a handful of years ago, and a bit of call center/dispatch type experience a bit more recently than that. However, all her most recent experience is the HHA stuff. I’ve been supportive and helping her weed through jobs and she has applied to probably hundreds within the last year, but only gotten two interviews and no offers.

    I’m out of ideas on how to get her out of an awful job in a teeny town. She’s been applying to jobs locally and in a bigger metro area, where I live. She’s applied for everything from retail to hotels to medical office jobs to regular office jobs. I would recommend getting some volunteer admin experience, but I’m not sure there’s that many options where she is, and commuting 2 hours each way for volunteering is a bit much. I think she does well in interviews once she gets them.

    I know there’s only so much I can do, but I’m wondering if there’s anything major I’m missing that I could suggest?

    1. Calla*

      Oh, she also briefly applied for temp jobs but also got no response, and quitting a permanent job (even if it sucks and doesn’t pay well) for something short-term temporary seems risky.

      1. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

        Hmm I would wonder what her resume looks like. Maybe with all of her diverse experience, explorers are having a hard time telling what her job goals truly are. I would suggest that she revamp her resume, highlighting her HHA experience, and then only mentioning the additional experience. I know that it is tedious, but instead of applying to everything that she “could” do, she should focus on what she wants to do and if that is HHA I would recommend that she focus on those types of positions, write a really awesome cover letter (customized for each opportunity). I also really like the suggestion that In read in another comment about getting additional training and education in another, similar area, such as Medical Assisting. Then maybe while she is in school, she could do some volunteer work at a local hospital (assuming that her small town, does in-fact have a hospital) or relocate to a larger area where there would be more opportunity. I think that the combination of an awesome resume/cover letter, volunteer experience, and continuing education in the medical field, would be my recommendation. Good luck with everything. :)

        1. Calla*

          What she wants to do is “anything that’s not HHA/direct care,” though. I’ve looked at her resume and it seems good to me (HHA experience is at the top and agencies grouped together where possible so it’s not a long string of jobs — it’s work-study admin, dispatch, then the HHA), the only exception being, it’s hard to think of many things in that role to highlight if she DOESN’T want to continue in that kind of position, which she doesn’t (which also means the training/schooling in a related field, besides unaffordable, also wouldn’t be that useful).

          1. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

            Sorry, I think that I misread part of it and thought that she was looking for something in HHA. It is Friday and I will admit that I am a bit tired!

            Well the same principal definitely applies. Whatever she is most interested in pursing, she needs to highlight on her resume. Plus write an awesome cover letter which goes along with her chosen field.

            As far as taking classes in whatever field is of interest to her. If that would be something she would want to do, there is plenty of funding sources out there. If she wanted to go that route, she could sit down with someone at a local community college and see if there would be any funding which she would be qualified for.

            Best of luck to you and I hope that your girlfriend finds an awesome new position!

          1. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

            That’s ok. Sorry for being completely not useful at all. LOL at least I tried! Good luck with everything.

      2. Pussyfooter*

        That’s odd. My first ideas are 1) Is there something she thinks is good in her resume/self marketing that is actually out of sinc, and 2) Does she have internet access to teach herself Microsoft Office and give herself more skills for free?

        1. Calla*

          She knows Office, but perhaps there are other skills she could work on for free (for example, her typing speed is just average).

          1. Natalie*

            Typing always helps, bu IMO she shoul really focus on Excel if she is looking for office work. It is very commonly used in offices but many people can’t use it to its full potential.

            For extra bonus points, maybe some basic HTML – I’ve seen more than one front office job that includes keeping the website updated.

            1. Calla*

              Good idea! I know a decent amount of HTML and other stuff so I could help, and that’s been a plus in interviews for me even when it wasn’t mentioned in the job ads. (Plus, she did graphic design the 2 years of college she has, so those go well together I think.)

        2. AnonNC*

          Pussyfooter, any particular sites you recommend for honing MS Office? I’m a little out of practice with Word/Excel plus would really like to master Access.

          1. Pussyfooter*

            I’m not proficient yet, but several well-grounded people who don’t know each other have recommended
            You didn’t ask, but in case you are curious, a site called htmlgoodies appears to teach html from the ground up for free. Clicking on the “introduction” button even gives the option of a non-techie beginners coarse.

    2. Tai*

      Is your girlfriend able to go back to school? An HHA has some similarities to a certified nursing assistant, but the latter has certification and tends to work in institutional environments.

      1. Calla*

        I forgot to mention that. It’s something she has considered but she can’t afford to, and doesn’t want to take out more student loans. She also really wants to get away from providing direct care if possible.

    3. periwinkle*

      Your girlfriend could target agencies in the area that handle HHA, travel RNs, and other health care providers – no, not as an HHA (as you said she wants to get away from patient care), but in administrative or recruiting functions. I’d think that having experience as an HHA would be valuable in helping to screen others for placement or deal with clients seeking HHA services. (I used to work for a specialized nurse recruiting agency; one of our selling points to clients is that every recruiter was an experienced master’s-educated RN)

      She could start by talking with the agencies she has worked through to set up informational interviews with their staff. She’ll get an idea of what they do and if she could succeed in a similar role.

      1. Calla*

        Yes, she has. That’s not all she applies to, but definitely home care agencies, medical offices, etc. are high on the list. Still nothing, though. She hasn’t set up informational interviews, though, so I wonder if that’s an option– the agency she’s worked with the longest is very small (as in, I think they have three people on staff).

    4. The IT Manager*

      100s of application and only two interviews? It a tough market out there, but maybe her resume and cover letter needs work in order that she be selected to interview. Can it be made stronger and better?

      1. Calla*

        Her resume is, imo, good given what she has to work with (I had a hiring manager I know, who hires for medical record/imaging collection and management type positions, look at it and he liked it), but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to give it another look to see if anything can be made more appealing/transferrable.

        I know her cover letter is only average (it’s not outstanding, but I’ve seen way worse) and I’ve suggested working on it before, but didn’t want to push. Perhaps I can gently mention it again.

        1. RJ*

          If she is using the same, average cover letter for all these applications, that could be a huge issue. Her cover letterS should be superior and tailored to each company’s position, for best results.

            1. Anonymous*

              Your friend may have already done this, but has she teased out & included in her resume things from HHA work that transfer more readily? I’m thinking “customer service” & record-keeping & reporting (especially if any of it is regulated), “work with diverse populations”, “works independently”, anything related to tracking & managing supplies she uses, confidentiality, etc. Especially important when applying to places with only the vaguest ideas of what HHAs (can) do.
              Kudos to you for being supportive. The market is really tough.

              1. Calla*

                She’s my girlfriend.

                Yes, some of that. I mean, I think most of this belongs more in a cover letter, which is where she puts most of them for sure, but working independently/no supervision is on her resume as well. However, we hadn’t thought of the managing supplies and record keeping angle… I will definitely suggest that!

    5. Another Anon*

      I know that feel – I applied for just over 600 jobs before I got my current position. People who have had full-time jobs just don’t get how hard the job market is to break into, in ANY field, if you don’t have much full-time experience.

      My rule was to never go more than 6 weeks without adding something demonstrable to my resume or portfolio. If her current job isn’t giving her new skills that she can document, I think the best thing to do would be to take a class (at a local college or an online certification program, whatever’s easier) that will offer her some kind of certificate for something in her field. If she’s not sure, look at jobs in the field she wants to be in a little higher up the ladder: what skills are listed as requirements? If she can work towards them now, she’ll be more employable. Good luck!

      1. Calla*

        Hmmm… I wonder if something like Coursera would be a good resource? I don’t know if they offer certificates or anything, but it could be a good place to learn work-related stuff she doesn’t know (just a quick glance shows a statistics course on the front page).

        Thank you!

        1. periwinkle*

          If she wants to be marketable in an office environment, she should become proficient in MS Office. She’ll stand out if she is perfectly comfortable with the intermediate stuff; in Word that would be things like creating Table of Contents (with jump headers), formatting tables, and embedding other documents. If she can do a mail merge in Word using an Excel file, even better.

          Considering that many people who claim Office proficiently actually mean “I can open a document and maybe re-size an Excel column within 3 tries”, she would stand out from the crowd!

          1. Calla*

            LOL at the last part of your comment.

            I wonder how you’d work that in pre-interview — add in “strong knowledge of Microsoft Word”?

            1. fposte*

              I’d vote against that, actually. For one thing, it’s a self-description with no quantification; for another, Microsoft Word is basic enough that you don’t really want to emphasize it as an achievement unless you really have achieved something with it. She can include some relevant info briefly on the cover letter (“I’ve prepared for my transition to the clerical world by studying at, and my pivot tables in Excel are now second to none”) if it’s relevant and true.

              I think that the queries about her resume are worth thinking about, though–what’s good to your friend in medical hiring isn’t going to be good for hotels, and it sounds like she’s using the same resume for both. And you yourself have noted that her cover letter isn’t as competitive as it could be, and she’s competing in a competitive town for competitive jobs.

          2. AnonNC*

            Any suggestions of free sites to test or assess my Office skills? I’m probably a little rusty with Word and Excel, but when I was using it at my previous job felt very comfortable. I would also love to learn Access.

        1. AP*

          Is she using your address? Make sure she’s coming off as a local candidate instead of someone who would need to move…

          1. Calla*

            I’m in Boston and it’s not at all uncommon for people to commute from an hour or two away. We have commuter trains that go out pretty far. I’ve even had coworkers who commuted from out of state (like RI). That said, I’ve told her she definitely can use my address and it may help a little.

            1. Pussyfooter*

              Some ideas: there are free “career centers” in my area that give a mix of good/bad advice …but they also give job training for free. She might need to apply for a grant for the classes, but that is just part of the job center’s automatic process for classes–they’d probably give her all the papers/info she needed to get this. (Sometimes they partner with Goodwill*)

              App’s on cell phones teach language, including real sounds, now. Maybe this would be a low-cost way to gain an advantage?

              She needs to become really, damn good at that cover letter–no more “ok.” If she knows it’s not as good as it could be, why hasn’t she been trying to fix that? (I mean this in a you-can-do-it-!, supportive way.)

              1. Calla*

                Thank! I know she’s signed up for the local career center’s mailing list, but I think all they’ve sent so far is one for like carpentry. I will suggest that though in case there are others she can check out.

                She thinks her cover letter is good, I’m the one who thinks it’s “okay.” I’ve suggested “Hey, want me to help you with your cover letter?” before and she’s said she thinks she’s good and I didn’t want to be condescending and push it. But, this thread is making me realizing that’s probably the main problem (which I suspected it was before anyway).

                1. Pussyfooter*

                  You risk alienating someone by repeating what they’ve already declined, but if you are considering opening this topic again, I suggest bringing her examples of outstanding, up-to-date cover letters and resumes. See it–don’t say it ;’)

                  (I don’t know where the heck to get a good resume example; the random internet examples are awful or so different from what I need they’re useless. I got a good grounding in high school, then a crash coarse from a woman who hires people herself….find a couple hiring managers willing to black out personal info and give you 2-3 best, recent examples?)

                  As for cover letters, scroll to the top right of this screen and “search this site” for a couple, and hit up those theoretical hiring managers too.

                2. Calla*


                  I wasn’t worried I’d alienate her (as long as we’ve been together it’d take a BIT more than that, haha) but I didn’t want to apply too much pressure or make her feel dumb.

                  However, I did gently suggest it over the weekend and she accepted this time! Ugh, the resume examples were SO terrible. I googled some to get an idea if there were any transferable skills she was missing that she could put on there, and that did help a little, but SO MANY of them were skill-based resumes! I was like “DON’T DO THIS THESE ARE TERRIBLE.”

  23. Andie*

    What is the consensus on telling a current employer and co-workers where you are going to work after you have resigned? I used to think what is the big deal when someone resigned and didn’t want to say where they are going. Now that I am considering leaving my current employer, I don’t think I want them to know where I am going. But it seems childish to say I don’t want to say where I am going. What do others think?

    1. Calla*

      I don’t think it’s weird if you don’t tell everyone in your announcement, but it would probably come off as strange if you refused to say when friendly coworkers asked. Or, at least, some kind of response– a co-worker recently left and when I asked she responded with “paralegal at a start-up tech firm.” I didn’t find it odd that she didn’t tell me the exact name and location, but if she had said “I’d rather not say” or something I probably would have.

      1. LMW*

        We actually had a discussion about this a few weeks ago (I contributed a story about a coworker who was kind of snotty and rude about not telling people where she was going and ruined her previously good reputation at the company she was leaving. I’ve since run into her at her new job…and honestly I’m not inclined to work with her agency since I don’t want to deal with her attitude).

        I think Calla’s suggestion is a good compromise.

    2. Kate*

      Between Facebook, LinkedIn, google, and good old-fashioned word of mouth, I think people should say where they’re going. Anybody who wants to know will be able to find out easily anyway.

    3. Cat*

      I think it’s weird, to be honest. Jobs are in the category of thing we don’t usually keep private even from casual acquaintances. Not responding to a friendly direct inquiry (which you will get) about where you’re working is going to be interpreted as a personal slight. And, in fact, it will usually be a personal slight.

      This is why CIA agents have cover jobs they tell people (or so I gather from movies); just refusing to tell people where you work looks weird and suspicious.

      1. Nikki T*

        I’ve actually learned just not to ask people. I did ask once, got no real response, it was over e-mail so not awkward, didn’t hurt my feelings.

        I like Calla’s suggestion. If pressed, you can always allude to getting in touch after the jump, “Oh, I’ll send up a flare after the move, just want to get things squared away here….”

      2. Kate*

        The more I think about it, I’ve actually never encountered people who didn’t say where they were headed as part of the departure announcement. I’ve seen this “Do I have to tell people where I’m going?” question a few times on AAM. Is it really common for people not to want to tell coworkers their new employer? What’s the thinking behind that?

        1. Andie*

          In the past, I have always told people where I was going and never thought twice about it. But I just heard about an incident where someone said where they were going and another person knew someone at the company and called that contact and said things about the person. So they kind of felt like they didnt have a clean slate going into the new job. It just made me think twice about whether it is a good idea to let people know where you are going because you never know what people are going to say about you.

          1. Cat*

            That’s life though. These days, your new company may also announce new hires on its website, or put up your picture and bio, or someone may always have seen you at a meeting or going into the building. If you’re switching industries or moving out of the area, it’s probably easy not to say; you can just say you’re going to move to Alaska or become a florist (or whatever). But if you’re not, (a) people will be naturally curious; (b) they’re probably going to find out anyway because most communities are pretty small; and (c) you’re putting yourself in a precarious position if you make a secret of it, because you’re probably going to be depending on those people for references, connections, and just, well, professional interactions in the future. It’s bad if someone calls your new boss and says horrible things about you, but in a way, that’s a lot more easily explainable than if, every time your name comes up to people in the industry, your old co-workers kind of roll their eyes and are unenthusiastic because they remember you as that paranoid chick who thought her new place of employment was a state secret.

    4. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

      Well you certainly don’t have to announce it, especially if you have a valid reason for not wanting your former employer to know where you are going. However, if someone really wants to know, they probably will find out eventually. So maybe just keep it to yourself, unless someone specifically asks… and then you can always tell them that you prefer to keep it confidential until after your official departure. A lot of this depends on the way that you say it, if you say it with a smile and a polite demeanor, I wouldn’t think that anyone would take offense.

  24. Chinook*

    Is it bad that I initally wondered why Supreme Blogger Green replaced her usual kitten pics with a monkey? Or do i really need another cup of coffee?

  25. Anonymous*

    I’d like some advice on temping while I am between jobs. I’ve never done it and don’t have any familiarity with it, so any tips would be useful. I’ve read some advice online, but we all know how out-of-touch online career advice can be. What should I look for in an agency? What does the whole process look like? Thanks AAM readers!

    1. Chinook*

      My number one advice when temping is to treat each position like an extended job interview. I have been on both side of the contract with temping and the ones who are most likely to be offered permanent jobs or be called back by the same employers are the ones who treat it like a “real” job and not like you are just filling space. Your work ethic counts as much as your skill.

      Also, when you find a good temp agency, keep in regular contact with your placement manager. I found that calling (or emailing) weekly to let them know I am still available and ask if there was anything new often meant I was at the top of their mind when they needed to think of a good candidate. The key is to find a good balance between reminding them you exist and not being a pest.

      P.S. I think we may be trying to break Supreme Blogger Green’s commenting thingy because submitting posts seem to hang for a long time.

    2. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

      I got my start doing temp work so I am a big fan. The company is trying you out and you are trying them out… I liked the comment I read that said to treat it like an extended interview. If the assignment goes well, it could lead to a permanent position, a great recommendation, and of course you have gained that valuable experience. If the assignment is not a good fit, it will be easy for you to move on since you knew that it was only a temporary assignment to begin with. Ask around and see if you can get a referral to a great recruiter/placement coordinator and do some research and see which temp companies have the best reputation.

    3. Joey*

      Temp companies run the gamut- shitty to great. Look for a professional office, recruiters that have been there for a little while and ask more than “tell me about yourself.”. Ask how long they’ve been in business at their current location. Don’t pay anything before you work. If you look like they may be able to hire you somewhere they’ll probably ask for new hire stuff like i9, background consent forms, etc. Ask what kinds of jobs they normally have. Ask what kinds of jobs they would consider you for. Be prepared to work the day after they call you. If they call you for a job that “may” turn permanent ask how long it “typically” takes for that to happen. Lots may tell you “it depends”. If that happens push back and ask if there are other temps there and how long they’ve been there or how long it took the last person to get hired. Listen closely.

    4. Rana*

      Good advice already – I’d also add that availability is frequently the difference between regular work and no work. Make sure your cell is charged and with you at all times, and it’s not a bad idea to check in with them twice a day – when they open, and about an hour or so before closing – to see if they might need someone at the last minute. (You’ll want to fine tune this as you get more of a sense of their demand schedule; you may not need to call as often – as Chinook notes, some agencies want you to call a lot, others not so much.) It’s not a chatty call, just a check-in so they know you’re available that day.

  26. Former 7 year old*

    Is the open thread only about work related questions we can ask each other or non-work questions are OK too?

  27. LeeD*

    Yesterday, my old boss (now in a different but related department) sent me an email assigning me a task. This was not a small task, or a favor; this was a labor-intensive task at our busiest time of year, and she wanted it by next week. It was clear that she had not asked or even consulted with my new boss, because she noted on the email that she was cc’ing him as a courtesy. Fortunately, my new boss had my back on this, but we were both a bit agog at the sheer audacity of it.

    The kicker is that, knowing my old boss, I’m pretty sure she volunteered for this task, never for a moment imagining that she would have to do it herself. Oops. Maybe now it will kick in that I don’t work for her anymore. Maybe. I live in hope.

  28. Amber*

    I’m actually the girl who asked about working at Tim Horton’s, but now I have two other questions.

    There are a couple of grocery stores and places in town that ask you to apply in person, for whatever reason. What are the best times to go in and apply, since I’d obviously have to ask for the manager?

    And speaking of managers… A good friend of mine is a manager at a pizza place in town. I text him a lot and he doesn’t reply to most of them because he’s busy and whatnot blah blah but I have had crushes on him before and I’m kind of clingy. There are three of these stores in town and I know which one he’s working at now but he’s worked at all three of them before. I’d like to apply to the two stores that he’s not working at because while his location is closer to my house I know that friends managing friends is a bad idea and he might think that I was stalking him or something if I applied. Now I wouldn’t do that obviously but I’m trying to figure out if I should even chance applying at the other two places! I might just be overthinking this too much but I really don’t want to enter a situation where I’m seen as creepy or awkward. We’re just really good friends now but yeah…

    1. Natalie*

      The advice I’ve always followed for stopping in at retail/service establishments is to try and avoid their rush period. Sometimes that’s more obvious – a sit-down restaurant is going to be busiest at dinner time, a place in the central business district is probably super busy at lunch, etc. If you come in and they are slammed, just come back in an hour and see what it’s like then.

    2. JamieG*

      1) Generally, retail is going to be less busy in the mornings on weekdays. Try to avoid evenings, lunchtime, weekends, holidays, etc. For a grocery store, be extra conscious of whether it’s two days before Easter or some other time often celebrated by hosting a large meal. (If you go in and try to talk to a manager when they’re busy, the manager will probably question your judgement, or at least they’ll be annoyed at the interruption.)

      2) Is he a good friend, or just someone you have a crush on? Because usually if a friend applies at a place where another friend works, they won’t think they’re stalking them. A girl who’s been harboring a crush on a guy for ages and being generally weird at him applying at a store he manages, however… that might seem stalkerish. But regardless, applying at a different branch of a chain he works at should be fine. It’s not like you’re leaving a super well-paying job in order to follow him around all day or something.

      1. Amber*

        He’s just a good friend by this point, and I suppose I didn’t mention that I’m no longer crushing on him and I’m not quite as clingy as I used to be, ahha. I’m that way with a lot of my friends and I think that he knows that – and doesn’t hold it against me. He’s not an unusual case in terms of my clinginess, lol.
        I just dunno if it’s a good idea to apply to where he works given that history between us.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Natalie’s advice is good re the first question. As for the second, I would avoid it if at all possible. You’ll only complicate things and if he is feeling weird about the crush / texting deal, it’s not going to help you as a candidate.

      And stop being clingy. I know it’s hard (believe me, I know!), but if you start feeling that way, put down the phone and go find something else to do.

    4. Garrett*

      I worked in a grocery store and I would say the best time is mid-afternoon (2-ish). A lot of store managers work the day shift, so they would still be there and it’s generally slower snce the lunchtime shoppers are gone and the afterwork shoppers haven’t arrived yet.

      Regardless, there will most likely be a manager or assistant manager there at all times, but I would suggest stopping by during the day.

    5. Felicia*

      I’d say early morning or early afternoon from grocery stores would be the best, during the week.
      As to the second, I would avoid it if possible. If you have a crush on him, whether or not you’re also good friends, it’s I think a better shot if you don’t work with him and become a little less clingy. Good luck with both!

      1. Amber*

        Well I’m clingy with everyone that I consider a great friend and he knows that by now, but yeah I just need to stop lol. I just know that it bothers him a little bit which is why I don’t want to be seen as stalkerish. He’s not holding it against me, but it would just be better for everyone if I wasn’t all that clingy! >_< ;

  29. TheSnarkyB*

    SQUEEE! Open thread!
    Can I just get people’s opinions on office dress codes? I’ll be working in a business casual environment- in a hospital, but not a super clinical/time-to-wear scrubs part of a hospital.
    Dress code says no tank tops. If I wore say.. a silk sleeveless blouse w/ a little ruffle or some mild embellishment on it…. that’s ok, right? (I’m shopping this weekend, that’s why I ask.)
    Not everything sleeveless is a tank top, right? (It’s mentioned in the same breath as “no leggings” so I think they just mean “no unprofessional ribbed tanks/ spaghetti strap” etc…)

    Also- has anyone else noticed how impossible it is in recent years to find shirts with A LITTLE embellishment, not a fake pearl necklace w/ 8 strands staples to the top of a semi-sheer shirt with a back panel that’s inexplicably a different fabric that says to everyone, “I’m cheap, so I go for a cotton polyester blend on the back of a silk shirt. yolo.”

    1. Jamie*

      If it says no tanks I’d go with at least a capped sleeve. Of course there are sleeveless blouses and shells, but I’d double check and see if they are screening for casual or coverage.

      FWIW I hate tank tops in the office. It just screams poolside to me, but those are the plain cotton t-shirt type ones and quite frankly they don’t provide enough coverage for most women I know.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I only wear tanks ever under another shirt in winter, to keep from freezing. I hate the way my arms look. And I hate capped sleeves–they make them look even fatter!

        1. Incognito - sort of*

          I don’t mind them under other tops – I just hate seeing way too much of a coworker and that’s what happens with a lot of tanks.

    2. Calla*

      In my experience, something that’s just sleeveless, i.e. covers from neck to shoulder, is fine. However, it’s something I wear a cardigan with until I can confirm that other women in the company wear them bare-armed.

      Also, I was so frustrated last week when I went shopping at Banana Republic, bought a lovely tee with a lace overlay, and got home and tried it on in different lighting and discovered it was STILL SHEER! With two layers! And considering how much it cost! I was so annoyed I still had to add yet another layer under it (and it has a deep scoop back so not just any layering tank/cami will work, ugh).

    3. KarenT*

      I would assume sleeveless is fine, but for the first week I’d probably wear short sleeves so I could scope out what everyone else was wearing. You could also bring a cardigan in case you misgauge.

    4. LV*

      I think a sleeveless blouse sounds fine – I definitely wouldn’t consider it a tank top.

      I’ve definitely noticed that for the past few months it’s been impossible to find shirts/blouses that aren’t sheer – or even worse, sheer and totally billowy and without structure. I know they look nice on some lucky women, but I need a shirt with a waist to it or I look like a shapeless lump. (And I hate seeing a nice blouse that I could only wear with a cami underneath and a belt over it… too much effort!)

      1. Windchime*

        I’m top-heavy, so the billowy tops make me look like a middle-aged pregnant lady. And yeah, everything is so sheer lately that I almost automatically wear a camisole under everything, which isn’t always comfortable in the summer.

        My place of work allows sleeveless blouses and we are business casual. Things seem to get a little *too* casual during the summer if you ask me (capri’s and sandals), but I guess I should just be lucky that we don’t have to wear suits.

    5. Cat*

      One thing to think about is that a lot of work spaces are hellaciously air conditioned, so being prepared to layer on top of sleeveless shells is often a good idea!

    6. Ellie H.*

      I would interpret a sleeveless blouse as not being a tank top. I have a number of them from Boden. Boden is, I’ve found, a really fantastic source for nice blouses (plenty of sleeved ones too!) that are not tackily embellished but are still distinctive and lovely. They are a little pricey but overwhelmingly well made, last forever, and they have great periodic sales.
      To me a tank top is more skintight/cotton, the kind of thing you buy from Gap Body.

    7. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

      I think that the rule of thumb is not to wear anything that shows your armpits. So if you lift up your arms a bit and your coworkers can see your armpits… you should probably put something over it. Of course, I have no idea how the others in your office dress. Maybe wait until you start and get a feel for how casual everyone else dresses. Business casual has a wide variety of interpretations.

      By the way, love your comment about the embellishments. I was shopping the other day and noticed that pretty much everything seemed to have some sort of major bedazzling going on. It took me a while, but eventually I discovered Target’s “fancy t-shirts”. I think that I own just about every color! Good luck with your shopping and your new position :)

      1. TheSnarkyB*

        Hey Jen! Do you have a link for target’s “fancy t-shirts”? That sounds like something I need!

    8. periwinkle*

      I’ll second the no-armpits rule. My current biz-caz attire is a sleeveless dress with a shrug or short-sleeve cardigan.

      When I worked in a hospital in a non-clinical role, I still had to abide by the dress code restrictions. Nothing sleeveless, no open-toed shoes, no hats, no denim, etc. Even if you’re not clinical, you still represent the hospital in the eyes of any patients/visitors who may see you.

    9. Calibrachoa*

      Ask the HR! (and if they say it is ok, make sure to note the time and date and who said it and hopefully get it in writing in case they disagree amongst themselves) Our dress code forbids tank tops, too, so I clarified with my team’s HR contact if that means all sleeveless and posted a few examples, and she said “with a cardigan or other coverup” but otherwise it is at least cap sleeves. I think had I asked one of the other HR managers, the answer might have seen different.

  30. Jamie*

    Mini-vent – ran a brief project meeting yesterday (15 min) to go over some critical schedule changes.

    Why does NO ONE have questions in the meeting when I ask twice if anyone has any questions, but there are plenty of questions after the meeting when they catch me alone?

    And it’s the same freaking question, so if someone had asked during the meeting it would have answered it for everyone.

    Happens all the time – drives me crazy.

    1. Tina*

      Did people know the topics/details before the meeting? For some of us, it takes a while to process new information and identify questions. That definitely helps me, and some of my coworkers. If you want my best contribution, you need to either a)give me a heads-up before the conversation, or b)give me some time after to process.

      1. Incognito - sort of*

        Oh yes I always send an agenda before hand – and even stuff like this where it’s just meeting to make sure we’re all on the same page schedule wise…it’s not like it’s new info.

    2. Chinook*

      I think part of your problem is that everyone thinks they will look stupid for asking a question (a common problem even in schools). Have you ever tried, with humour, pointing out that everyone always have the same questions? Or maybe that there are no such things as stupid questions?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That was my thought as well. Nobody ever wants to be the first one to speak. I hate my literature class right now for that very reason. All those kids sitting there blinking like owls when the prof asks a question….and I’m blinking right along with them.

        0_0 >_< 0_0

        1. Chinook*

          Elizabeth, for kids I find you need to have a bit of an icebreaker. Depending on our “teacher personality,” you could ask for a silly question about the text first. Or, you could break them into small groups for 5 minutes and have them come up with a question from the group (so it is semi-anonymous). Or, you could ask if one of the more outgoing students wants to come up and continue the discussion on the text and you can be the student (in which case, you pick on the class ham).

          1. Elizabeth West*

            She does all that (the professor), and they do talk in the small groups, but they’re so scared to say anything to the entire room. I suppose once we get used to each other they’ll relax a bit. We meet twice a week instead of once, so that may help, I don’t know.

            It’s scientific literature, so I think it makes people feel dumb, which doesn’t help.

    3. Shelley*

      Fear of public speaking. I have to guiltily admit I do this sometimes too – I’ve gotten better since I’m more confident about public speaking now, but it’s often a “I don’t want everyone else staring at me while I ask my dumb questions” kind of anxiety.

    4. fposte*

      How are you asking for questions? I’ve found in interviewing that I can influence the likelihood of getting questions by the way I invite them. There’s still the group thing in your case, obviously, but I think even there you might be able to highlight particular challenges or possible opacities and see if you get responses.

      Conversely, I grab people on my own afterward because my questions don’t seem broadly applicable–if that’s the case, maybe you can address that too.

      1. Pussyfooter*

        I second fposte’s “broadly applicable” worry.
        Also, maybe the prompts that remind them of questions are happening outside the meeting? I expect you’re working with higher level people who know to create running lists of questions, but I’m always surprised that everyone doesn’t do this sort of thing.

    1. fposte*

      When we were talking about bullying a couple of days ago and I was looking at the research, one of the points made was that minorities within the field are highly likely to be targeted; it made me think of what EngineerGirl has mentioned about her early experiences as a lone female in an engineering group.

      It’s a shame to see how much things haven’t gotten better.

      1. Lily*

        Women’s colleges graduate more women in traditionally male majors, but I’m no longer sure that is a good thing, because the women have chosen the major without experiencing what it is going to be like.

    2. Windchime*

      I haven’t experienced outright bullying and discrimination like many of the women in the linked post, but I see it on a more subtle level. For instance: Last summer, there was a project that was bumped up to the highest priority and had an impossibly tight deadline. A male programmer (“Jack”) and I were put in a conference room with computers and asked to complete this project in two weeks. We worked long hours, were brought catered lunches, etc, but we got it done and the users loved it.

      To this day, it’s referred to “Jack’s” program, or “the program that Jack wrote for us”. The users know that Jack and I both did it; we attended the meetings together, we both answered countless emails, and we were both recognized by Admin for having done it. But in people’s minds, it’s still something that Jack created. Because, y’know…..vagina.

  31. Thomas*

    So here’s something I’d like some input on. I currently work in a very sedentary office job, and it hasn’t been fantastic for my health (my weight is slowly climbing). Besides exercising in my free time, I intend to go to my manager/HR about a standing desk. I have a standing desk for my computer at home and love it. Someone else at my company (much higher level than me) has one, and it’s basically a table placed on top of the standard desks we all have (cubicle farm). I’d be hoping for the same setup.

    I’m inclined to believe they’d have no objections to it, especially with the precedent of someone else doing the same thing. Does anyone here work full time at a standing desk? I’m used to standing at a computer for hours at a time at home, but haven’t done it for a 40 hour workweek before. Any advice, comments, or experiences to share?

    1. Lindsay*

      I HATE sitting all day, so I’d love a standing desk also. However, commercial standing desks are super expensive.

      I hear that a mix of standing and sitting is best, so either that means an adjustable desk is best or an easily convertible workspace.

      Here’s a $22 DIY standing desk with Lack tables from Ikea:

      Sounds like culturally your workspace is OK with standing desks, so you should go for it!

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        How about a cheap DIY adjustable desk? I wouldn’t want to stand all the time, and certainly would have to work up to standing more. Oh, and I have 2 monitors — the affordable adjustable desks I’ve seen are mostly just for one.

        1. Thomas*

          I have 2 monitors as well. It’ll largely be up to IT, I suspect, what the actual desk add-on will be like–anything that has monitors and other IT assets on it is something they’ll want input on.

      2. Rana*

        I’d definitely go with a sit-stand arrangement until you’re sure if it would work for you. I’ve long liked the idea of a standing desk, but I’ve learned that I actually can’t stand in one place for more than ten or twenty minutes without starting to feel unwell. (Walking for hours, no problem – it’s weird.) Other people find it works great right away, while others need a transitional period to build up strength.

        1. Pussyfooter*

          I shift my weight side to side, or do little knee shimmies. Did you know that new soldiers who stand watch are known for passing out? They lock their knees and this slows returning blood flow.

    2. Jamie*

      That would be my idea of hell – but don’t they use mats for standing on if you’re going to be on your feet all day. I know cashiers, factory works, etc. have back issues with standing for hours at a time…I’d think the flexibility to stand or sit would work best.

      1. Chinook*

        If you are standing all day, those cushioned mats help. The other thing is having a foot rest so you alternate having two feet at one height and then and different heights. I have a bad back (there is a reason they tell you to bend at your knees) and this helps relieve the back strain.

        Honestly, being on my feet all day wouldn’t be that bad if Iw as constantly moving. Standing in one spot would be horrible, though.

        1. Thomas*

          I definitely need to think about a cushioned mat. And maybe a crate or something I can rest one foot on.

    3. Windchime*

      I have a standing desk but it’s not really tall enough so I use a tall chair and sit most of the day anyway. Our cubes are arranged so that the desk part can be set at any height; however, we have an ergonomics specialist who has determined that sitting desks must be 29″ and standing desks at (I can’t remember how tall, but it’s a set height). I am very tall (5’11”), so I have to fold myself up like origami to fit under a 29″ desk. And they won’t let me raise the level of the tall desk so I can truly work while standing. So I am tempted to put something on top of my desk to raise it even more.

      1. Chinook*

        You have a lousy ergonomic specialist if she believes that every desk must be at the same height. Aren’t they suppose to asses people individually and make the work space ergonomic for the individual?

    4. AgilePhalanges*

      I’m WAY late to this thread, but if Thomas is still reading, I saw people recommending standing AND sitting, and if you go with a table-on-top-of-a-desk setup, of course you won’t be able to easily adjust the height of your monitors. We have the option of standing desks at my office (though ours are permanently arranged, and WE decide the height according to our own distance from ground to elbow, so poo-poo to that “ergonomic specialist” who doesn’t take individual people into account), and those of us who opt for them are given tall chairs. That way, you can sit down to rest your legs/knees/back, but still easily use the standing-height desk and monitors. In my case, the chair doesn’t QUITE go tall enough, so when I’m sitting, the keyboard is higher than it really should be, but whatever. It isn’t causing me ergonomic issues, so it’s all good.

      However, when I first went to standing, I was so gung-ho that I gave myself tendinitis in my WAY deep hip tendons, by cocking my hip out to one side (like horses do with their back legs–one leg straight and bearing the weight, the other leg cocked and the hip dropped on that side). BAD idea. So make sure you’re spreading the weight evenly between your two legs, and yes, rocking or swaying helps, no matter how silly you look to others.

  32. Jamie*

    Quick mini-poll – who is responsible for phones in your offices? IT or Office Manager (or equivalent).

    I manage the system and the PBX – but I’m thinking of delegating the actual replacement and purchase of phones themselves because…they are phones. They are just the conduit for technology and not so much technology themselves. (And this is in no way a rationalization because I hate dealing with phone issues. Except that it totally is)

    Just wondering how other places do it.

    1. Thomas*

      IT handles ours, but that’s due to the fact that A) they’re VoIP phones in specific VLANs with a lot of fancy networking setups going on, and B) our IT group handles ordering for all other technology , from servers to keyboards to Ethernet cables. I think they might delegate a bit to our office manager on some of the ordering, but it’s IT that initiates it, not our office manager

    2. Joey*

      IT because the phones are considered technology assets since they decide what kind of phones we need.

      1. Jamie*

        Oh I picked the phones – they go with the system. I just mean when someone needs a new one or breaks a handset or something….I just want to not care about reordering. :)

        1. who am i?*

          Our receptionist is in charge of replacing phones when they break and/or calling for service for broken phones. We are just switching to VOIP as we speak, but the receptionist is still basically in charge of everything except the physical implementation. For example (and this is timely), I was just ranting to my husband how I have been telling our IT people (including the student worker “in charge” of the phone changeover and the “phone guy” that is working with him from the phone company) that my phone doesn’t work. The screen doesn’t light up and there is no tone. They all kept telling me, “Don’t worry. We’ll fix it soon!” (which meant, “We’ll plug the Ethernet cord in and assume that fixed everything, when in reality it didn’t actually do anything”) or “You just have to initialize it! It’s easy! Just wait until we tell you how.”

          Well, I just got the instructions yesterday afternoon, and lo and behold, you actually need to be able to access the features to initialize the phones. You know, the features that show up on the screen that doesn’t work for my phone. So after the receptionist sent out the instructions, I emailed her back and told her that my phone doesn’t have access to any features. It’s just dead. Nothing going on with it. Nada. Zilch. She said, “I’ll get the phone guy to your office on next week.” Yay. The phone system will be live when we return on Tuesday. I’m assuming I’ll be without a phone for a few hours at the very least in one of our busiest times. *sigh*

    3. Chinook*

      I have been in two office that switched from landlines to VOIP (or whatever it is that uses the datalines instead of the phone lines). At that point, responsibility changed from Office Manager to IT and became part of the IT set up for new employees.

      If this becomes more work for you, maybe you need to let TPTB know about the increased workload and have them add to the budget for someone to deal with the phone issues in IT?

    4. jubileejones*

      At my old job, the Customer Service Manager was responsible for the phone system, but we only had a contract IT person who was in 2 days a week. So a lot of IT functions were delegated to other departments. I think we Canucks were the odd ducks. In our US and European offices, IT was responsible since it was considered technology.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Office management.

      Interestingly office management has taken on ordering new USB headsets for computers – I guess because its so much like the phone headsets they order.

    6. Windchime*

      IT, but we have a huge IT department and there are 2 guys totally dedicated to just the phone system and the desktop phones.

  33. sab*

    I have a problem employee that is unproductive and abuses flex time. As a result, I have become more proactive in holding her accountable; however, she’s responding to my increased accountability in a weird way.

    Last week, she sent me an email at 9 pm asking if I had left early that day because she could not find me (I work in a library, and as such, was on the reference desk, which was noted on our department calendar). I was a bit flabbergasted, since it was… 9pm at night. What did it matter at that point?

    My boss and I had a meeting with her over her lack of productivity, and I expressed concern that she is not using her time wisely and because of past incidents where she brought her ipad to a meeting to play on social media, I brought up my concern that she is goofing off. Her response? “Well, how do *I* know if you’re not goofing off?!”

    I’m frustrated, because I’m pretty new to management and while I think her impression is that I am “do what I say, but not as I do” person, which is not the case. I don’t leave early, I don’t “goof off” (at least, not more so than the average person who needs a 5 minute social media break), but she seems to think that she can “manage” me almost. What do you all think?

    1. Cadie*

      You’re her manager. She’s not your manager. Whether you’re goofing off is literally none of her business, and has nothing to do with the FACT that you know she’s goofing off and being unproductive. So don’t worry about proving yourself to her – if anything, that will reinforce her delusion that she ought to be managing you.
      It seems like this would benefit from the tried-and-true Alison treatment of “I need to see X, Y, and Z results by [some] date. If you are unable to meet these goals, your role in this company will not be able to continue.”

    2. Tina*

      I think it takes some nerve for her to ask you that (whether you left early or if you were goofing off), and quite frankly, isn’t her concern. It’s your job to manager *her*, and it’s your boss’ responsibility to manage *you*.

      1. sab*

        Thanks. That’s how I feel too, but since I’m so new at managing, I started to worry if I was putting off a bad impression or not being “transparent,” but you all are right. It’s none of her business.

      2. fposte*

        Agreeing with the above two comments. She thinks she’s found a way to rules-lawyer you, and you want to shut that down. “I have a supervisor whose job is managing my time and productivity–that’s Jane. The person supervising *your* time and productivity is me. Questions about other people are an irrelevant distraction that I’m not going to entertain.” Additionally, her ducking the question is a problem itself–if she’s unwilling to speak with you about her performance problem and how to improve it, then that’s a big bad sign that she has no intention of changing, and you can pretty much say that. Right now she’s believing in loopholes–if you weren’t at the desk she can’t be in trouble, if she can make you talk about you instead of her she can’t be in trouble. Make it clear those aren’t loopholes, they’re just fruits of the poisonous tree.

        1. fposte*

          Okay, slightly amended. You obviously don’t say “That’s a big bad sign you won’t change,” but you can say “I’m concerned because my attempts to address the problem result in your ducking the question, which makes the problem bigger.”

    3. My2Cents*

      A good employee will embrace mentoring when it occurs and must know there is truth in feedback. She doesn’t seem to respect or trust you. If you would like, have a meeting with your boss and the problem employee to inform her that it is NOT appropriate to manage up in this situation. She needs to understand you’re her boss who is trying to get her to a place of higher productivity and contribution that will benefit her now and further in life. If she chooses to continue this pattern, she will be let go and you have the final say in the manner.

    4. A. D. Kay*

      Her response? “Well, how do *I* know if you’re not goofing off?!”
      Whoa. That’s insubordination! That’s a fireable offense in and of itself.

        1. A. D. Kay*

          I’ll go even farther and say she *needs* to be fired, because her insubordinate behavior is going to affect morale for the other employees who ARE doing their jobs. She sounds very entitled and immature, and has never learned that one’s behavior has direct consequences.

      1. sab*

        Nope, we are on the path. That was her warning discussion to get her productivity up. My boss has instructed me to give her a month to demonstrate any performance improvement (and to provide the doucmentation to University HR that yes, we gave her plenty of warnings), even though I’d much rather get rid of her now. :/

        1. fposte*

          Is she a student? New hire? If not, how long has she been flaky?

          Have you explicitly said “Your job is at risk if your work doesn’t improve”?

          1. sab*

            She’s been here a couple years. There’s some weird circumstances around her situation that I didn’t want to get into because I’m paranoid that they are potentially identifying, but her behavior is a pattern, so yep, the “your job is at risk” has been said.

    5. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

      Basically this employee refuses to take accountability. She is trying to turn things around on you and you just have to steer her back to the conversation about HER. The next time she tries to say “well how do I know you are not goofing off” I would suggest just telling her that we are not discussing you right now, we are discussing her excessive use of social media, abuse of flex time, tardiness etc…It reminds me of what I say to my 5-year old, “don’t worry about what other people are doing, focus on yourself”. Same principal. Don’t feel the need to defend yourself to her, because you don’t have to, just continue to remind her that she is the topic of this particular conversation and not you, and then follow whatever process your office has for documenting discipline accordingly and setting clear expectations on what you need to happen, the timeline that it needs to happen by, and what is going to be the result of her behaviors if you do not see improvement.

  34. LCL*

    For shiftworkers/nontraditional schedules only:
    If you have to schedule an elective NONEMERGENCY medical procedure for you or your partner, do you schedule it on your days off, or take the first appointment offered without checking your schedule?

    1. JamieG*

      If I have my schedule for that timeframe already (I work retail, so only know my schedule ~10 days in advance), I’ll do my best to schedule it on my days off. If there are no open appointments on my days off, I’ll schedule it for a day I work and get someone to swap a shift if possible, or take my hours altogether if not. (There are never enough hours to go around, and my department tries to help each other out with scheduling stuff when possible, so that’s not usually too hard.)

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      For me, it depends on the recovery time. I had to have a thing fixed with my elbow, so I scheduled it a couple of days before my weekend because they anticipated a 3-4 day recovery window, that minimized the disruption at work since 2 of the days were days I’d already be gone.

      Also, some doctors only have certain days they do certain things. My mom has to travel 2 hours for follow up on an eye condition and is required to have a driver. The doctor only has clinic on Mondays and Tuesdays.

    3. Calibrachoa*

      I generally know my schedule 4 to 8 weeks in the future and can make an educated guess on what shift I am in on any given month, so if I know I will aim for a day off, and if I am guessing, I will aain aim for ha I assume will be a time I can make it.

  35. Anon Accountant*

    Cute kitten!

    A firm I interviewed with in January 2012 bought out the firm I was working for. Comparing the 2 firms is like comparing night to day. The new firm is like a dream come true. They have clear policies and procedures which are expected to be followed. There’s an emphasis on getting the work done and slackers aren’t tolerated. They hold people accountable for meeting the bar for performance they’ve set forth.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        I forgot to mention. One of the best things that’s changed is that before our office manager insisted that we make our personal cell phone numbers available to clients via business cards and she gave out numbers freely. Some staff even had clients picking up or dropping off tax and accounting items at their homes which I objected to. Not to sounds high maintenance but I value my privacy and would happily meet clients at their business or another place but not my home.

        The current firm doesn’t give out numbers unless you’ve said it was okay. There were several pains in the ass that I blocked their numbers from my incoming cell phone calls.

        Sorry for ranting about my pet peeves.

  36. Jubilance*

    Partially a vent & partially looking for advice here…

    About a year ago (I’m 2 weeks from my 1yr anniversary actually) I took a new role with a new company in a new field. I like the new company for the most part and the things that I’ve worked on, and I’ve learned a lot. In March/April my original manager announced that she was moving on to take a new role on a totally different team. After an entire dept reorg, we got a new manager, who managed a team that worked somewhat with my team. I knew the new manager in a “hi and bye” sort of way but we didn’t interact on work stuff. Before the new manager came on board, I talked to a few of the people on his old team and they let me know that he’s a bit of a micromanager. It was really easy for him to micromanage on his old team, but given the breath of projects on my team, it’s hard for him to do that unless he’s directly involved on a project.

    Fast forward to him coming onto the team and he asks me to hop onto a super high profile project that is on fire, like 3 alarm fire & all hands on deck. I’m being frustrated because the new manager is constantly signing us (myself and 2 coworkers) for lots of work with unrealistic timetables. Think a 2hr turnaround for something that usually would take 8hrs. The new manager has said that he wanted more visibility to senior management & VPs in this role, which he’s getting, but I suspect he’s doing it by signing us up to deliver things that are really tough for us to do. He doesn’t push back on management when they make requests or help them understand all that goes into giving them the information they are requesting. I think he’s trying to get extra points from senior management by doing this, but at the expense of his team. We’re all stressed, burned out and becoming resentful.

    I’m having flashbacks to my previous job, the one I left to come here, where everything was a fire & I was constantly stressed & asked to move heaven and earth to get results ASAP. I don’t want to work in that environment longterm and I’m becoming discouraged and unhappy. I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel on this project & I really want to go work on another team. There are people who move to other roles after a year in my company, so that’s not unheard or uncommon.

    How do I push back when we get these unreasonable requests, or at least help my manager understand that his timelines are unreasonable? Right now when I do it, I feel like my manager is worried I’m going to go “angry Black woman” on him and its affecting how much I interact with him. I don’t think I’m angry at all but he had a bad experience with a different Black woman employee and I think that may be factoring into how he interacts with me. Also, any ideas on how to subtly find out my options for transferring to a new team?

    1. LMW*

      I’m having this same problem with my dotted line manager (as opposed to my official manager, who is of the wonderful “I’m over there if you need me, but otherwise I’m going to get out of the way and let you do your thing variety.”). He’s constantly promising stuff that we can’t deliver — or at least can’t deliver on the timeline he’s proposing.
      I’ve taken the approach of saying things like “Wow, that’s tight. I’ll have to delay such and such to meet that deadline” or “We don’t have the resources to do that this week because we are busy with XXX (which you also promised). I can outsource it, but it will put us over budget by XXX amount.”
      It’s taken me a while to get to the point where I can say this stuff with some authority, but it’s mainly come down to me owning my role (this is my first manager title) and realizing that at least some people know that he’s giving them unrealistic deadlines. It’s not helping though – he still does it, and I feel kind of b****y pushing back sometimes because he’s so oblivious to the issues he’s causing.
      I don’t actually have more advice than that, so I’ll be watching to see what other people advise.

    2. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

      This has happened to me before! I will spare you the specific details, but basically I was asked to complete a project in 1-day that should have taken 2-weeks to complete. It was the result of another employee making a mess of the project. I didn’t push back. I stayed all night to complete the assignment. Ultimately I made some mistakes that were not mission critical, but mistakes none the less. Anyway, I ended up being chewed out for my mistakes despite all of the circumstances above. I am no longer with that company! However, it taught me a valuable lesson. Don’t ever agree to something that you know you can’t deliver or that you cannot deliver with the quality that your manager would expect from you. Of course, if your manager tells you to do it anyway, then what other choice do you have, but a reasonable manager will at least listen to your concerns and help you come up with a plan to get everything completed in a timely manager without sacrificing quality. I don’t think that it is unreasonable at all for you to ask your manager to sit down with you before staring large projects with tight timeline to review the scope and go over any potential issues. At the very least, you are covering your behind if the project blows up. I know that it is bad to think that way, but it sounds like your manager may not stick up for you if a project fails because you don’t have enough time or resources. Just approach it like “I am eager to get started on this project, but to ensure that we are both on the same page, can we just sit down for a few minutes and discuss the project in more detail” or “I know that you want more visibility with the higher ups and if we can do an awesome job on ABC project it is definitely going to help our team accomplish that. Lets sit down and have a discussion on how we are going to make that happen in the most effective manner”. Something along those lines….

      Now the whole situation with him considering you angry and using your race to dictate how he interacts with you is a whole different story. If you feel that you are being discriminated against, you probably will have to take that to HR. Besides, treating an employee differently just because something about them reminds you of another employee you had a bad interaction with in the past, is just really dumb.

      Good luck. I hope that you are able to get on a new team so that you can start enjoying your position again!

      1. Chinook*

        “Now the whole situation with him considering you angry and using your race to dictate how he interacts with you is a whole different story. If you feel that you are being discriminated against, you probably will have to take that to HR”

        I read Jubilance’s portion on worrying about being seen as the angry black woman as her jumping to conclusions (which may be a common conclusion in her experience). She really needs to react to her new manager the same way she would react to her old manager and let the chips fall where they may. It is a huge assumption to think that her concerns will be minimized because she will be seen in the same light as another employee. Unless the new manager has given her reason to think this will happen, she should expect him to treat her like any other employee, black, white or purple (okay, maybe purple should be treated differently with a 911 call).

        Jubilance, if you want to be treated by the new manager the same way as you were treated by the old manager, act the same. If she mistreats you in anyway, than that is her problem and can be dealt with then. But, she is atleast owed the chance to treat as you should be treated without being prejudged.

        1. Jubilance*

          Let me clarify.

          My behavior towards my manager has not changed between old and new. The way my new manager interacts with me – mannerisms, tone, choice of words, etc – is different with me compared to everyone else on the team. He talks to me as if he’s choosing his words carefully & is afraid to do anything to offend me or make me upset. He doesn’t do this (that I’ve seen) with anyone else on the team and I’m the only person of color on the team, but not the only woman. In his previous role he managed a Black woman who I thought he had a good relationship with, until she went to HR, told them it was her last day, and cleared out her desk immediately. No notice, no new job lined up, was just fed up & walked out.

          When we do talk and I respond to his requests with anything more than a “sure, I’ll get right on that” he is overly apologetic when I say that the deadline is extremely tight or quality may suffer or we may not be able to validate the numbers or whatever. I really feel like he’s going out of his way to make sure he’s on my good side when it comes to giving me deliverables. On a personal level we seem to get along well, we have things in common and I have no reason to dislike him.

          I don’t feel like I’m being discriminated against, I think its the opposite – he’s so afraid that I may think he’s treating me differently that he’s being ultra-cautious with his language with me. But I find it unnecessary.

          1. Chinook*

            Jubiliance, I feel bad for both you and your boss. He has been bitten once and is now scared of what else may happen. Is there any way that you can let him know that you are not at all like that other person and doesn’t need to pussyfoot around you? It is unfair that the previous employee created a situation that you now need to deal with and I wish there was a way to change it.

            1. TheSnarkyB*

              In my experience, there’s no way to point this type of thing out without making the person even more defensive or skittish. Though I do think that’s the right track to be thinking on. Jubilance, I totally feel for you on this one. I’ve been there, and the only thing that’s (slightly) worked for me is joking about my direct style slowly and for MONTHS to the point where people (both friends and colleagues) finally understood that my smiley-free emails weren’t terse or my slowness in responding to a text wasn’t passive aggression, I just literally do things based on their priority and your txt related feelings aren’t my priority. I think this issue is truly an interaction of race and gender, which makes it more complicated (and harder to find solidarity), but also more interesting and you can get creative.
              Some things I would say to “manage up” or make friends understand my direct style:
              – my last boss and I used to practically duke it out over proper deadlines- such a timesaver haha!
              – yeah my mom is always telling me I’m super direct. Maybe it was the brunch text that said “diner. You. Me. 11am.” Haha!

              (Generally all lies, but true to my personality and what I want the person to know about me. These aren’t particularly funny but you get the point.)

  37. ChristineSW*

    OMG that kitty picture is soooooooo cute!!!

    Question: Is there a significant difference between “quality assurance” and “program evaluation”? This is one area of nonprofit/human services that I’m interested in learning more about. From my understanding, QA–at least in my field–occurs either as a function of an accrediting or licensing body or as an internal department of a large, multi-site nonprofit; they make sure client files are complete and that all procedures are documented properly. I think my skills would fit in beautifully because I notice every little mistake or discrepancy; I’m a huge perfectionist when it comes to these things, so such a department/agency would probably snap me up in a minute. At the same time, I’d be afraid I would be very much disliked by organizations because of that.

    The term “program evaluation” sounds a lot less threatening, but I can’t seem to figure out if it’s really viewed that way since it seems to involve very similar goals. I’m always analyzing and evaluating whenever I am served as a customer or attend a workshop, and I love evaluating programs as part of my volunteer council work, though my part isn’t as comprehensive as the staff’s part, which seems to be more from a QA lens. However, I have noticed that program evaluation positions tend to be found in university research centers or at large foundations, which seem to all want candidates with extensive experience and/or a PhD (the latter of which I may pursue).

    So I guess I’m wondering if I have to take one with the other because I don’t like being the “bad guy”. Any thoughts would be really helpful!! (sorry, I know my questions never make much sense :( )

    1. program eval*

      I am a program evaluator and my mantra is “does this program or service achieve results?” Most of my work is focused on education, so I’m looking at data to see if kids are getting higher grades, becoming better readers, or coming to school more often. I have always been an external evaluator so I don’t know much about being on the inside of an organization that’s undergoing evaluation. QA to me is something totally different. I don’t particularly care if all of the documentation is done – unless of course it’s impacting my data. In other words, QA should come a step before an evaluation.

      Program evaluators work in university centers but there are also entire firms dedicated to it.

      1. ChristineSW*

        Thank you for the insight!

        Is there a specific way to gain experience? I know you’re in the education field, but I imagine there are similar career tracks in human services. Right now, I sit on a county-level advisory council that, in part, evaluates programs by reviewing grant proposals and conducting site visits. Might that serve as a good stepping stone? Is the PhD going to be the only way I have a shot at a program evaluation position?

        1. Nodumbunny*

          I know many people in program evaluation with masters in public administration/public policy. In a good program there will be specific coursework teaching what you need, including some good quantitative analysis skills.

        2. program eval*

          I have a Master of Public Policy degree and have mulled getting a PhD. However, I don’t think it’s the right path for me personally. Some higher-ups get hung-up on new hires having a PhD, and others don’t care. My Master’s program had at least one class dedicated exclusively to program evaluation. I would think that conducting site visits would be a great start in gaining experience. Other big parts of my evaluation work have been surveys, interviewing, and working with administrative data (in my case, school attendance records and so forth). So, I would suggest getting some stats or data analysis experience under your belt if you don’t have it already. You’ll also work on developing outcome goals and figuring out ways to measure those goals. I have seen program evaluator positions for all sorts of human services agencies.

        3. TheSnarkyB*

          Look into schools of educate on this. My psych counseling program has 1-3 courses on program Eval, depending on how you look at it. And organizational/industrial psych programs should too, I believe. Very useful, and definitely within human services. Perhaps you could take a few graduate courses and try to use those contact to get in touch with a consultation firm, etc.?

    2. periwinkle*

      Oh, I could go on for pages and pages about program evaluation… but instead, I suggest you look at the Center for Disease Control’s fantastic resource:

      There is, of course, a professional organization, the American Evaluation Association:

      I’ve linked my email in my name, so please feel free to contact me! I’m trying to develop a career that’s along similar lines (internal evaluation rather than program eval), and have been learning all I can about methodology. Fun stuff.

      1. ChristineSW*

        I don’t see an email–I think only Alison can see people’s email addresses, not other readers. I will definitely take a look at those links though, so thanks for that!

        1. periwinkle*

          Oh piffle. Well, the CDC stuff will get you going! Their program evaluation model is my favorite, and certainly clearer than the one I learned initially (Kellogg Foundation’s model). Also check out – Jane Davidson’s book on evaluation methodology basics is a great introductory text.

  38. YAK*

    I’m writing on behalf of my fiance. Thought it might be good for an open thread if anyone has experience with academia culture. One year ago, he began a 4 year position. It’s a 2 year research postdoc followed by a 2 year technical training. During the postdoc, the institution he’s working for reimburses him for classes (required for the training following the postdoc) upon competition and a satisfactory grade. About 6 months into the postdoc, he realized it wasn’t a good fit. He has a great relationship with his boss, so he mentioned to him a couple months back he might not stay in the program, but he will fulfill his 2 year commitment to the postdoc and will leave before the training begins. He was supportive, but of course encouraged him to stick with it.

    Classes will begin next week and he is really conflicted about whether to take the class for this semester. It will require $5,000 cash up front, energy and time that could be better used for networking and finding his next position, and they’re basically pointless to his career now. However, if he doesn’t take the class, the entire department will know he will be leaving the program when he still has another year left, possibly making the next year extremely awkward. He also worries about having them pay for the classes and continue to invest in him when he knows he will be leaving.

    I know Alison generally suggests not informing your employer that you’re leaving until you have something concrete lined up, but this case seems a bit more complex. Anyone have suggestions on the best strategy to approaching this situation?

    1. periwinkle*

      Ouch. I’d recommend that he talk with his PI immediately, because he has to make a decision right away about enrolling in classes.

      Is the field not a good fit, or is it the specific research line he’s in? If it’s the research line, perhaps the PI can help your fiance find a more suitable post-doc. Would the knowledge from this semester’s classes help him in the field elsewhere? Or is he planning to completely bail out of this field and go into industry?

      1. YAK*

        Thanks for your feedback! He’s completely bailing from this field entirely and pursuing another academic field where the courses are of no use :/

    2. Rana*

      I’m not as familiar with the science side of academia, but my initial reaction is that having the department know he’s not sticking around may be less awkward than he assumes. These days most people understand that the academic job market (in the sciences as well as the humanities) is challenging and frustrating, so someone who’s looking for alternatives is less likely than they were in the past to be viewed unfavorably. And academic time frames often work on a semester or year-long basis, so anticipating someone leaving in a year is fairly common.

      With regards to his relationships with individual faculty members, personally, I’d rather have a student be honest with me that they’re planning to leave – which could open up some useful feedback, you never know – than have them sit in my class all year and then bail at the last minute. Maybe he could visit the professors he respects/likes one-on-one to update them?

  39. Kathryn*

    If the job starts on the 8th of September, and I was told that (if I got the job) I would need to come in beforehand for a drug screening and to fill out paperwork, and I haven’t heard anything… then I can probably assume that I haven’t gotten the job, right?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Just proceed as though you haven’t. Keep applying and interviewing. They probably tell everyone that–I’ve heard it before myself, and sometimes I got the job and sometimes I didn’t.

    2. TheSnarkyB*

      When did you do the screening? Are you saying that you were offered the job, contingent on passing that stuff? If so, follow up for sure! It’s much more rare for employers to not be clear w/ candidates at this late stage than at the others. Also, background junk can take forever.

      1. Kathryn*

        Ah, no, to clarify I was told at the interview that

        a) They really really really needed someone in the position by September 8th.
        b) (If offered the job) I would need to do drug screening, which takes time.

        Seeing as there are now four business days between now and September 8th, I am pretty sure I either didn’t get it, or they are going to call me tomorrow and say “Can you come in for drug screening RIGHT NOW?”

        (And I know that drug screening is not always the sign of an employer you want to work for, but it’s for a position funded by local government, which requires the screening for all employees.)

  40. PerfQuestion*

    2 years out from a PIP and I’ve been doing great but my pay still isn’t on where it should be – avg 2% per year for the last 5 years and inflation would make that much worse. I finally decided to file an official disagree with my yearly performance review. It’s now 2 weeks late and hasn’t passed the first HR review. As far as I know, they’re really backed up in the performance review system. My manager was kind enough to help me review it a few times so I feel it’s pretty solid. What’s the consensus here – should I be livid or understanding? To me, it gives me the impression that I’m not high on their list, especially as an official disagree is a quiet way to state that if they don’t do something about it, I’ll leave (which I never stated – ever). The company is still struggling so I kept my request modest which is still below market for me. Would appreciate your thoughts.

  41. MousyNon*

    Has anybody ever used an offer they DIDN’T take to leverage a raise at review time (i.e. “Here’s my market value” sort of thing), and if so, how far did you try to nudge up your numbers? I was offered significantly more money (40% more) by our toughest competitor (as in, our company calls them the evil empire, toughest), but I turned it down (loyalty was a part of it, but it also required a relocation I wasn’t ready for and had some work/life issues). The positions are very comparable, and my company just completed a very lucrative merger with our second-toughest competitor (that, incidentally, has higher overall salaries than my company). I don’t expect a perfect match of course, but what I’m making now really feels out-of-step with my value and contribution to the company. My review is coming up in a few weeks, and the last three raises I’ve gotten have been in the 5-7% range. Any thoughts? Hints? Advice? Concerns?

    1. AP*

      I don’t think I would bring up the 40% number. After all, the evil empire may be offering you more money, but it is for a significantly different job (different locations means different living costs, and you mention work/life balance, so the higher number probably reflects more hours and effort on your part for the hypothetical job). But can you find out what the range is for your job at the company you just merged with, and use that as a peg?

  42. ThursdaysGeek*

    How do I go about investing in kitten bellies? Right now, I’d be willing to pay to have some of that fur in my fingers, so there’s got to be money in it, right?

    1. Pussyfooter*

      It involves lots of string.
      I see by your Gravatar, you like other furry things. Is that your pet? Which kind?

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        She was a rose hair tarantula, a valentine’s gift from my spouse! I wasn’t aware that I could like a spider before I got her. And I lost her after only a couple of years, to a really bad molt. :( She was sweet.

        Spiders are nice, but kitten bellies are wonderful. I have a squishy-fuzzy pillow pet (siamese) that is warm and purry.

  43. Cruella Da Boss*

    Love the kitten!

    First, am I the only “boss” who posts here?

    I just want to know if anyone else has a problem with staffers who seem to sit around in their free time, and dream up problems to create at work?

    How did you/are you handling that?

    1. saro*

      Boss here. What kind of problems? Are they not busy enough?

      I had a problem with employees coming in and thinking they knew everything and offering outlandish suggestions (heeeyyy, international development). It was very frustrating and I am afraid I don’t have a proper response other than to diplomatically tell them it doesn’t make sense for the following reasons…

      1. Chloe*

        Short of mind control, I’d say you can’t really stop it. I think its easy for bosses to look at employees as only employees, rather than fully fledged human beings with ideas and opinions and perspectives.

        Or, to look at it another way, do you want your employees to feel like they shouldn’t share any ideas with you, and that you want them to do precisely what is in their job description and nothing else?

        Probably not. So you have to take the good with the bad.

    2. fposte*

      I’m middle management–I boss some and am bossed some. Unfortunately, I’m the one who dreams up problem to create at work for my staff.

    3. AnonAdmin*

      Middle management like fposte here too. I have folks who tend to dream up solutions to problems we don’t have. :/ My response is usually to ask them “What problem are we trying to solve here?”. Alternately, I’ll thank them for their enthusiasm and then explain that we have other, more pressing issues to attend to. It’s frustrating though.

    4. Clever Name*

      I’m not a boss, but my first thought is if they have that much free time, maybe they are underutilized.

  44. Elizabeth West*


    Anyone else keep getting an Internal Server Error 500 page when commenting? I emailed about it and Alison said it was being fixed. It stopped finally, but it’s happening again. It happened before both at work and at home. I just wondered if anyone else was having difficulty, or if it was just me not holding my mouth right….

    I’m using Firefox and sometimes IE at work and FireFox at home.

    1. ChristineSW*

      Not getting the error, but I have noticed that when go to post a reply, the upload seems to take forever. It can be particularly slow in an Open Thread, but I always owe that to the sheer number of responses going up at once.

        1. Pussyfooter*

          I get both–slow posting (above 30 seconds usually) and bounced out after messages.
          It started when Alison changed a [technical support of site] to get rid of an earlier problem. Another site I follow has had growing pains over the years. As the owner’s readership outpaced various supportive services , he’d try different companies and upgrades over time.
          So, I chalk it up to growing pains…as long as I can still take part I’m happy =)

    2. Windchime*

      I get the error, but then when I hit the back button, my comments have been posted. I’m using Safari. I don’t get it every time, but I think I’ve gotten it at least once today.

      1. Pussyfooter*

        Lucky! I can’t go “back” so I have to put in the web address and go all the way back in every time I get the 500.

        I’m on Firefox, mostly, if it matters…two days ago, I posted a comment with a followup comment and after posting normally (no 500 error/no “moderation”), they both vanished forever. I’ve never had that happen before.

    3. Rana*

      Yeah, I got that a bunch while posting comments, too. If I just reload the page, though, the comment shows up. I’m guessing it’s the load from everyone visiting the site at once.

  45. Incognito - sort of*

    It’s friday – wanted to go incognito because no one recognizes you in sunglasses!

    Okay so I have a question that I should totally be able to solve on my own, and it’s so a non-issue…but it’s bugging me.

    Earlier this year they changed my title from Director of IT to CIO. No promotion, tptb felt it was more reflective of my responsibilities outside of IT (besides IT I also head up Cost Accounting (not ALL accounting) and the ISO Management Rep).

    So I changed it on Linkedin…but I never got around to changing my sig tag and we haven’t had cards printed since…but we will next week and …I feel weird about this but I really like Director of IT better. It’s comfy – like a perfectly broken in pair of Levis and Converse. CIO feels like pantyhose and pinchy shoes.

    We’re an SMB so while I am executive management, I am also the one who orders you a new printer when yours craps out and reboots the server, that kind of thing. Which I love – I really love the niche of the SMB in manufacturing and I love my company. I like being able to keep my fingers in everything that interests me and I don’t mind the helpdesk stuff (as a rule.)

    We don’t go by titles here so it doesn’t matter at work – I’m just IT which suits me fine…but as to how it looks to outsiders…I don’t know. The new one makes me feel like it paints a picture of being being a briefcase carrying, Chanel wearing fancy-pants and I’m really just a Liz Claiborne wearing, laptop schlepping IT.

    I’m positive they’ll let put whatever I want on the cards…so my question is would it be weird to have my working title not match what’s in HR and on the org chart. If I were ever to be back on the market which do I list on my resume?

    1. KarenT*

      Go with your new title! It’s more descriptive, since you’re doing accounting and ISO stuff as well.
      No need to head to Liz Claiborne. Some industries are just casual–My CEO wears jeans all the time.

    2. Chinook*

      Jamie, I once knew a CIO who was the most casual employee in the entire organization (and also the only male at the C-level of this nursing organization). He hardly wore suits and I seem to remember him wearing running shoes at work. He started out as part of the admin team and his department grew around and then underneath him the tech requirements grew for the organization (they now have an amazing, complicated website, run a second one for a related government organization, do on-line registrations for various national exams and run the day-to-day tech things). I think that, like everything else in the corporate world, the tech people get extra leeway when it comes to being corporate drones. They sort of expect you to show up with Hello Kitty sunglasses, so why dissapoint?

      1. Jamie*

        My sunglasses are normal…its the shoes that are kitty. :)

        I know what you all mean, but I was using dress as an analogy for how they felt…not that I’d change what I wore. Trust me, I work in a plant…I show up in Chanel and they are wondering where I’m interviewing.

        It’s just the name and the feeling…one is comfy and one feels like someone else. Like when I’d hear CIO I wouldn’t assume it was someone who can still cap a Cat5 and I do …you know?

        I do think we get extra leeway in a lot of things though, but that’s only because we have the keys to the building and room int eh budget to replace people’s flat screens with old CRTs if we get peevish. :)

        1. Chinook*

          Jamie, I think you are having a major case of “imposter syndrome.” You said you are executive management, so being called CIO makes sense. And where I come from, being in charge just means that you are the “chief cook and bottle washer.” Think of the title as a way to make those who don’t know you listen to you when you need to get things done because you now have the power of a c-level employee.

    3. Joey*

      I wonder if what you’re talking about is intentional- that they want a more corporate image for your position. Those types of title changes are usually about that. Or frequently to communicate your authority more clearly.

      1. Jamie*

        No – the impetus was for an audit with an external agency so my scope would be clearer and they wouldn’t wonder why IT was handling CA and QC. It was for clarity.

        1. Courtney*

          Would it be possible to use both titles?

          My recent promotion had me feeling sad that I would be losing a title I liked and we ended up compromising on a blended title.

          So now I am: Assistant Director of Chocolate Teapot Research/Teapot Appreciation Coordinator

          I break it into two lines on my business card, but usually use the slash even though it makes my title crazy long.

        2. Joey*

          In that case I don’t think I matters….that is unless you’ll be giving those cards out to the auditors you’re referring to.

  46. Eric*

    I have an interview on Tuesday for an internal promotion! I’m excited but nervous. Does anyone have any interviewing tips for an internal position?

    1. My2Cents*

      Practice! I have heard feedback that internal candidates don’t realize the importance of an interview and treat things as if they are a mere formality. Don’t worry yourself to death with it, but remember to be professional about it. Expect tough questions that will try to set you apart from your peers as the person that will get the job.

    2. Ms Enthusiasm*

      Yes practice and treat it like any external interview. Really try to wow them. Bring a 30-60-90 day transition plan with you on how you will transition out of your current role and milestones you hope to reach in your new role within the first 90 days. It doesn’t need to be too long, just one page with bullet points. Also, would your current manager call up the new hiring manager on your behalf and let them know how wonderful you are? Or at least get a little more information on the role for you?

      1. Eric*

        It’s actually a new position in the same department, and my current supervisor is the interviewer’s direct report, so that’s already taken care of. :)

      2. Eric*

        Great idea on the transition plan though–I hadn’t thought about it in those terms, so I think I’ll be getting that together!

  47. some1*

    Mangers/HR People: Do exit interviews make a difference to you? If you hear that people are resigning because they do not want to work with certain people in upper management, do you do anything about it if you can?

    1. My2Cents*

      +1 to this – I hope Alison would do an official post for this question.

      I’ve also brought up the feedback that if it’s their first job they are leaving, people might not be so apt to be completely honest about feedback (not as in lying, but as they don’t want to ruin things if they ever want to come back).

      1. some1*

        Yes. I worked at a place where they had you fill out an exit interview form when you resigned, and a handful of former co-workers voluntarily shared their’s with me. They all brought the same issues as their reason for leaving, but nothing changed after that.

      2. Job seeker*

        I agree. I would not want to do an exit interview, although I was asked if I wanted to at my last job. Sometimes you can say just too much and that is the lasting impression you leave. Most of the time any concerns you had will not cause any changes. I think it is better to leave well enough alone. Loose ships sink ships.

  48. Anne*

    Does anyone have tips on taking the FSOT written exam? Anything that you found particularly helpful in your test prep? Thanks all :)

  49. Ms Enthusiasm*

    How do people feel about asking for a raise if one has just gotten a degree? I work and go to school and will hopefully graduate next year. I’ve heard different sides to this: someone I know has an employee who graduated and asked for a raise and it seemed natural to now pay this person more money. But I also agree with Alison’s usual advice, that when asking for a raise it should be about the value you bring and the work you are doing as well as industry standards. Not sure if just getting a degree falls into that since my job won’t technically change, I’ll now just have a piece of paper saying I went to college. My only holdout for still potentially asking for more money once I graduate is that I have been told directly that I cannot move any higher until I have that degree. But I already feel like I do the work of a higher level position. Maybe after I graduate it might be time to evaluate if a title change is in order.

    1. fposte*

      Unless you’re in an industry like education, where it’s known practice to link pay raises to additional degrees, I wouldn’t suggest a raise myself. But since there’s already been a conversation about the degree’s lack holding you back, I totally support your theory that now’s the time for a followup conversation about how you can grow now that that impediment has been removed.

  50. Sascha*

    Fellow state university staffers – have you ever been promised a promotion and/or title change, and how long has it taken to go into effect? My director told me about a year ago he had “plans” for moving me off my current team (front-line tech support) and onto a more specialised team (database reporting). So far it still has not happened, but he says he is working to get that for me when I bring it up every now and then. Part of the delay was getting a contract on a Big Project to go through – several higher-ups delayed on it so that tacked about 6 months onto the timeframe. Now we have started the Big Project where I am supposedly going to be transitioned onto this new team, but my director said he has to wait and see “how things go” before he can move around positions.

    I’m having trouble staying positive and trusting him, not because he has been untrustworthy in the past, but because this is taking so long, and I’m afraid the promotion won’t happen at all because of forces beyond his control. In the meantime, more and more work is getting piled onto me, and it’s wildly beyond the scope of my job, and has been for a while. I’ve done research on my position at other schools, and I should have been making about $10-15k more in my position as it was 2 years ago. My job now resembles more of a system and database administrator, and has for a while, but I’m still being paid for the work of a front-end tech support person.

    So just frustrated. Looking at other opportunities, but I really want to stay here since I enjoy my department and benefits. Thanks for listening. :)