open thread

catsIt’s our biweekly open thread!

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

Pictured: No longer a foster kitten. We’re adopting her!

{ 684 comments… read them below }

  1. CollegeAdmin

    I’ve been asked to organize catering for a meeting…for three people. Two are staff members where I work, and the third is an outside consultant. Is it weird to just select a place, send them the menu, and ask them to email me with what they want? All the catering menus I’ve looked at are for 10+ people.

      1. LMW

        I think there are too many dietary restrictions in the world for this to always play out well. Unless you always get something vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, no peanuts etc. ;)

        1. Kelly

          Absolutely! We had to do this for a small group of people from Malaysia who were visiting our office. Our receptionist brought in trays from a subway shop – then we found out that they were all vegetarian. OOOPS! So we scrambled to get some vegetarian options and then they ended up leaving before lunch so we had a ton of food left that none of us wanted to eat. :(

          I think it’s best to find out from everyone what they prefer and ask about any known allergies.

        1. Shannon313

          ^ha, this. I’m a born and bred Buffalonian, and I’ve never had wings without getting sauce everywhere.

    1. Cat

      I don’t think it’s weird; we always do that for small meetings. (When there’s time, we just pass around a menu at the start, have people circle what they want, and then send someone to place the order.)

    2. Victoria Nonprofit

      Yes. Just send them a menu for a deli or sandwich shop and let them pick what they want. Super normal.

    3. Ellie H.

      Yes, that’s definitely the best thing to do for such a small meeting. With only three people, it’s not like you are going to put out a platter of sandwiches for people to take from.

      I do a lot of catering orders for meetings and am always thinking about new catering strategies . . . usually for larger groups though.

    4. Poster formally known as Jane Doe

      I don’t think that’s weird at all, i think it’s perfect. I am vegetarian, and when people try to order for me, they always get something veggie that I happen to find gross. Then I feel bad for being grossed out when I really should be grateful thatthey accommodated me!

      1. A Bug!

        That’s tough, and I know how that can go.

        “What do you mean, you don’t want to eat this greyish-brown eggplant slop, it’s vegetarian! I made it special for you from this recipe I Googled!”

        (“You eat meat, right? Great, why don’t you come over Friday for dinner; I’ll make you liver and onions. You’ll love it, it’s meat!”)

        1. Poster formally known as Jane Doe

          Hahaha! My beef is with roasted red peppers and olives!

          Not that I am a fan of eggplant either ;)

          1. Evan

            Great; I love beef with roasted red peppers and olives, too!

            (Oh, wait, that wasn’t what you meant ;) …)

            1. TL

              That’s all I get when we cater – crazy food allergies and a salad with dressing on the side is the easiest way to accomplish that :)

              1. Bea W.

                I was thinking more when someone caters and it is just assumed that offering a salad side dish but no non-meat main dishes is enough for the vegetarians. “Oh, there’s salad. They can eat that.” In reality, what happens is that they end up having to go get something else on their own, because a plate of lettuce and tomato just isn’t usually an adequate vegetarian lunch.

              2. Julie

                That’s usually what i end up with, and it can get boring to have salad all the time. The last time my office ordered lunch, they told me they would get me gluten-free pizza, and i was really looking forward to it. Then, when lunch came, they said they couldn’t find a place with g-f pizza, but I could have salad (while everyone else ate pizza). grrr

      2. tcookson

        Okay, so here’s what I do when trying to accommodate a large group with a sandwich tray (tell me if it’s gross or okay, so I can tweak my strategy if need be):

        80% (appx.): meat/regular bread sandwiches
        20%: a mix of vegetable sandwich wraps on a separate tray, and a mix of meat sandwiches on gluten-free bread on another separate tray.

        I see as I’m typing this that one thing I’m missing is a veg/gluten-free combined option.

        Anything else?

      3. Contessa

        I run into that a lot. I’m not vegetarian, but I despise cold meat, so if lunch is cold sandwiches, I pick something vegetarian . . . which there sometimes isn’t (you’re feeding over 50 people, how can you not choose a single vegetarian sandwich?), or is something I don’t like (eggplant…). I usually just suck it up and eat the eggplant, or have a large helping of salad and extra cookies.

    5. AdAgencyChick

      Not weird at all.

      My agency used to do this all the time…and then I started working for a cheap client, so we now have lunchtime meetings without lunch. Boo. :P

    6. EG

      For this small a group, I usually get orders ahead of time for something like Subway or a nearby restaurant, and then pick up the orders just before the lunch meeting. The guests don’t have to go anywhere, and any dietary accommodations can be handled in advance.

    7. Gilbey

      That is exactly how I did it at a previous job. I just made sure the menu was varied so that everyone had a good choice. Non meat eaters, meat eaters, people watching their weight and so on all had a decent choice.

      There is no way you are going to know everyone’s favorite foods so if you stick to a basic, varied menu you will be fine.

      I never had a problem. Most peope were happy enough to get the menu, pick what they wanted and have me do the rest !

  2. Harryv

    First! Just got my 10 year anniversary letter from my job. For 10 year, I get a pdf along with 5 additional service splash vacation.

    What does your company offer at 10 years?

    1. Sabrina

      My old company did “splash” every 5 years and I got 2 weeks of splash at 10 years plus a gift I got to pick. Shortly after I left they stopped that benefit though.

      1. Sabrina

        At my company it was a “splash” of vacation, something you only got once. Or in the case of my company, every 5 years. You could carry over hours you didn’t use up to the limit, but you only got it during that anniversary year.

        1. kristinyc

          We’ve only been around for 3 years, so that hasn’t been decided, but so far, we have:

          1 year = Nice Lunch with boss
          2 years= $200 and a day off to do whatever you want
          3 years= 4 day trip to Guatemala (with other people who reach 3 years) to see some of our charitable efforts in action.

          1. Sabrina

            That’s nice. I’m about to hit my 2 year and I got a pen and a certificate. And a reminder that my year of temp service still counts for nothing.

          2. Victoria Nonprofit

            Whoa – that escalates quickly. I’ve spent most of my career at very small nonprofits so we’ve never had anything like this. Huh.

            I’ve heard of sabbaticals being used in this way. I think it was World Resources Institute that gives six months of paid sabbatical after five years (or something along those lines).

      1. Harryv

        Yes.. supposed to be printed and signed. Same letter which I have given to some of my employees at some point. Nothing special.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule

      I got a certificate and $75 for dinner. Which I had to pay for upfront and then submit the receipt for reimbursement.

      I just got my 15 year service award (2 weeks before my 16th anniversary) and got $175 toward a “weekend getaway.” Under the same “pay for it upfront and then get reimbursed” policy.

      At 20 years, you get $300 for whatever you want and then every 5 years, the amount goes up $100.

    3. Not So NewReader

      My former employer gave me a pen. Just like the one I got at five years. Neither of them would write. I hope they did not pay a lot for the pens.

      Hint to employers who may be reading: Check to see if your gift actually works before distributing.

        1. Not So NewReader

          When they started taking my soul, I grabbed my heart and grabbed my soul and RAN to the nearest exit.

          Lesson learned. Do not work for corrupt companies.

      1. Natalie

        Our company doesn’t do anything for employee anniversaries, but they did give us a pen to celebrate the company’s 25th year anniversary. Thanks, I guess.

    4. CathVWXYNot?

      I think (I’ve been here 6 years) ours offers pins in various colours for different years of service – they’re awarded at a special ceremony, and you get your name in the newsletter and an email sent to all staff.

      Public sector, largely donor-funded, therefore appropriate.

      We also start getting one additional day of annual vacation every year after five years of service. We start at 20 days and it maxes out at 35 days for people with 20 years of service.

    5. LPBB

      My former company gave a paperweight in the shape of a star with your name engraved on it. I’m fairly certain that I tossed it during my last move. Even though I appreciated the gesture, I was a little nonplussed about having even more dust catching clutter. Being laid off by the company the very next year really made the paperweight seem like a useless piece of junk.

    6. Brett

      I get a very nice service pin (think military ribbon) directly from our governing board at their monthly meeting. 25 years is a medal!

      We may suck at some things, but some of our service awards are awesome. Our certificates and commendations are mounted, and sometimes engraved, on maple plaques. Received a ridiculously heavy gold plated badge as an award for one project I served on. The life saving award is a silver plated fireman’s axe that weights about 40 pounds!

      I never use up my vacation anyway, so the awards are probably better than splash :)

    7. Mike C.

      My company does pins every five years, and progressively larger gifts and meals out with your upper management. Spouses are invited for the larger ones.

      At 25 years, you also receive an “inside” parking pass, which is rather nice and otherwise only given to managers.

      At 50, they give you a spot up front and security marks the stall with your company ID number and it’s yours. Yes, there are a few of those folks around, it’s pretty nifty to work with them.

    8. PPK

      At 10 years, we get to select a gift in $100 range and another week of vacation. They have a pre-determined set of gifts to pick from. I selected a clothes steamer. Which isn’t very exciting, but it seemed like the best value/most useful thing for me. I didn’t like any of the jewelry and most of the other useful things, I already had a working one of semi-equivalent value.

      1. Lillie Lane

        Ha ha, that’s useful but quite an odd gift. What were some of the other options? Do you mind sharing what type of business (in general) this is?

      2. Natalie

        A friend of mine that used to work at a large chain pet retailer (not that one, the other one) had a similar program – there was a website where she could pick from a number of different items at 5, 10, and 15 years. We had a fun time drinking beer and criticizing all the tacky jewelry!

        1. VintageLydia

          I may have worked for the same retailer. I ended up with a nice crystal decanter with 6 glasses. Pretty nice, but I don’t use it. Now that I own a house with an actual honest-t0-god bar, I’ll probably use it a lot more. Thankfully Unfortunately the company logo fell off.

    9. SAK

      At 10 years my company gives an extra week vacation for a total of 6 weeks. The fifth week kicked in at 4 years.

      1. Gene

        At 10 years we jump to 144 hours vacation per year, at 15 176, at 20 192, and at 20 200.

        Also, at 10 we get a lapel pin, at 15 a lucite plaque, and at 20 a pretty good pen in a nice presentation box. Beyond that I’m not sure.

        1. Editor

          My husband worked for a couple of manufacturers and then a retailer, and he got Cross pen sets, various plaques, a calculator back when calculators were considered a nice gift, and several clocks with plaques or engraving. At one employer, they had a catalog or a website or something with a dozen or so selections for each category of years of service, and people who wanted the fancy gifts could pay extra to get selected more-expensive choices. The Cross pens are still working and are nice, one of the clocks is still in service, and the rest has been junked.

          At my most recent job at a newspaper, I moved up to four weeks of vacation at 10 years of service. A few days after my 13th anniversary, I got severance because they laid me off.

    10. Marie

      I’m a little late, but what would you like for those anniversaries ? I’m taliking 5-10-15 years (besides the usual vacation increases). I’m actually in the middle of creating a program for our campany

      1. Ruffingit

        Money. Or in lieu of that, gift certificates to nice restaurants and perhaps a card from the manager praising the work and time and outlining some specific to the person things that have made the company better over the years. In other words, give things of actual value (money, gift card, praise). And for God’s sake, please do not give items with the company logo on it. That is tacky in my view.

    11. tcookson

      We *used* to get $100 for every year of service, but that hasn’t happened since the economic downturn back in 2008 . . . I miss that tradition a lot! I’d be getting $700 this year, if we still did that.

    12. Bea W.

      One job people got a crystal bowl, and at another, you got to pick your gift from a catalog, but a certificate with 10 pieces of stale candy taped to it. Woohoo.

  3. Gene

    Have you ever changed your hiring policies/procedures because of a single employee?

    We added an impromptu writing assignment after it became clear that a new hire couldn’t write a simple declarative sentence in a job that requires a lot of written communication. It was obvious that someone else wrote or heavily edited his cover letter, resume, and application. And no, he wasn’t ESL.

    1. Anonymous

      I think it is weird, but I also think that having a writing assignment for a job that requires a lot of writing is a very good idea.

      Along these lines I’d also like to take a moment to apologize to anyone who hired my ex thinking he could write, at all, I wrote all his cover letters and resumes etc. Sorry. :( I’ve learned. I was young and things were bad. I promise not to do it again.

      1. Ruffingit

        LOL! I’ve done that for many people as I have a degree in journalism and worked as a reporter/proofreader. However, I never had anyone who clearly could not write well. Had that been the case, I would have told them that they needed to improve their writing skills because otherwise they were going to find it difficult to survive in an environment where writing is a big part of the job.

    2. Wilton Businessman

      I test people on basic functions of the job. If it involves writing, I ask them to write instructions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

      If it’s computer programming related, I ask them to write a “hello world” program.

      If it’s in IT Help Desk, I ask them to write instructions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I like that one).

      1. the gold digger

        I am interviewing potential trainers right now. As part of the interview, they have to teach me something. They have ten minutes. I have learned about HVAC systems in pharmaceutical manufacturing and what sizes dust comes in, the importance of testing in the software development lifecycle, and the difference between corrective and preventive action. (My husband always wants to go straight to identifying the appropriate preventive action when we really need to resolve the corrective action, ie, how do we get to the airport for our flight in 90 minutes when there is a traffic jam vs why is there a traffic jam on Saturday and how do we avoid it in the future?)

      2. Michael Bauser

        I once applied for a job that required a lot of travel to, and driving around, strange cities, but (because of security policies) didn’t allow employees to use GPS units. They started the interview by pulling out a road map and making me show them the route I took to the interview!

    3. fposte

      Sort of. But usually it’s that a situation made it clear we had a weak spot in hiring, so it’s just changing something to the way it should have been already.

    4. periwinkle

      I don’t think it’s weird in this case. Think of it as a process improvement necessitated by an evaluation of your hiring process for the position (as in, “in retrospect we should probably only hire people who can write coherently for this position that requires people who can write coherently”).

    5. SevenSixOne

      Never done this, but I’ve worked with enough people who COULD NOT WRITE AT ALL that I think it should be part of every job interview. Nothing complex, just “you have five minutes to write step-by-step instructions for changing a light bulb” or something.

      1. Kat M

        I’ve worked for a business that had the same experience. I went in for an interview, and they gave me a piece of paper and a pen and asked me to write about my experience in the field. I was a bit confused, and reminded the interviewer that I had a copy of my resume with me if she wanted that, but she again repeated her request to write it myself.

        Later I asked about it, and she confirmed that they’d hired too many people who couldn’t write for beans. It’s not a bad practice, if you ask me!

      2. Bea W.

        Agreed! I took it for granted that everyone wrote their own resume and cover letter or had a large hand in writing it even if they had help, and I assumed anyone with a college degree would certainly know how to write at least enough to be understandable. Then I briefly worked with a woman in a who was rather fond of puffing herself up had what appeared to be well written credentials, and while I’ve never proved it, judging by her email interaction and other off-the cuff writing, it was pretty plain she had someone do that (along with other key aspects of her job) for her while taking credit for it.

    6. Indyjones

      I hired someone for a writing-heavy job and asked the two final candidates to produce a sample document. It was after the interview, I provided the materials/source docs, and they agreed to email the final in a couple if days. It was enormously helpful in driving the final hiring decision.

      1. SevenSixOne

        I think an on-the-spot assessment is better than a take-home one when the goal is to see what a candidate can do without any help and/or how quickly she can do it.

    7. Manda

      I’ve never considered myself a good writer, but when I hear about stories like these, I realize I’m not that bad after all. I’m pretty careful about grammar and spelling, but I’m not so good at getting the style and content right. I struggle to get thoughts into words sometimes. I think it’s more mental blocks than bad writing. Sometimes I kind of know what I want to say, but I can’t quite think of the best way to word it. I fret about it and I have to just write something crappy to start with. Then I do a lot of editing and staring at the screen. Maybe I overthink things because I want to do a good job. If the finished product turns out decent, it really doesn’t show all the agonizing that may have gone into it. (This is why I hate writing cover letters.) At least I can write coherently though. It’s sad how many people really can’t string a sentence together. Then again, I know it’s not my strong point, so I would avoid taking a job that involves a lot of writing.

    8. Bea W.

      Yes, one company I worked for shifted the initial screening and reference checking process to HR from the hiring managers after one employee ended up fired for scientific misconduct. The same employee caused IT to ban the use of Access across the company.

  4. BCW

    I’m curious about people thoughts here. I’m by nature a super laid back type of person. I’m like that socially and in work. Now I always get great reviews and people who work with me know I’m very dependable, but regardless that just my nature. I just not the most serious person. This works great socially for me, but I wonder if its working against me in my current job hunt.

    I had an interview recently that I’m still waiting to hear back from. I’m was very much myself, and it seemed to be going really well. With that said, I was not at all nervous (not that I usually get that way) and I was totally relaxed. I kind of wonder if my laid back personality made them think I wasn’t really serious and interested, despite the fact that I said I was (and meant it!). Has anyone who regularly interviews people come across like this? What are your thoughts?

    1. Wilton Businessman

      Could be. People want to hire people that are enthusiastic about their job.

      Could just be that it’s a bad job market.

    2. Anonymous

      You don’t have to show Super Serious Face. But can you show enthusiasm? Relaxed people can show excitement. If you are so relaxed you look bored that’s not good. You don’t have to look nervous to look interested. And being able to show interest doesn’t make you not laid back. This seems a little conflicting. Like maybe someone’s mentioned that you don’t seem like you are paying attention in the past? Showing interest/excitement/engagement is a good thing and doesn’t make you less cool.

      That said after an interview the best thing to do is let it go and move onto the next job to apply for. Sadly it is extremely common to not hear back. So set this aside and move onto the next job.

      1. BCW

        Just to be clear, I smile a lot and things like that. I don’t just have a stoic face or anything. I’m just not super excitable about a ton of stuff.

        1. fposte

          That might be worth selling as a bit of a plus, actually. My work tends to think it’s laid back and isn’t (and that goes double for me), and I had a great staffer who was seriously, totally laid back. The thing is, she got her work done really well and really on time, so she had all the benefits of the hyperacute and none of the nerves, and she was incredibly easy to counsel and train because she was completely nondefensive. I don’t know how much of this matches you, but I do think if it does, that’s saleable as a positive: you’re a solid achiever *and* you’re a low-key guy who gets along with everybody and who can remain unrattled in situations of stress and tension. It was interesting with my staffer because her demeanor really didn’t fit the usual achiever demeanor, and it took me a while to realize how much she was really getting done.

          But nthed on the possibility that that may not be a role you want to play if you think you’d be more comfortable at a more easygoing workplace.

    3. JR

      I think there’s a different between being laid back, and coming off as disinterested. If your version of laid back is slouching/ giving off any sort of visual signs of disinterest/ using unprofessional slang words, I’d say that yes it would hurt your chances. If you are laid back in the sense that you find it easy to communicate without being obviously nervous, I would say no, you are good to go.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This.
        Let’s say suddenly the trash can is on fire.
        Do you act swiftly and confidently to smoother the fire?
        Or do you add to the chaos and confusion around the burning trash?
        Or do you not care and go about your day?
        Employers want to know where you are at on that spectrum.

    4. Harryv

      If that is ‘who you are’ per se, it would sound like you would not be a great match at a high intensity job environment. You will likely encounter conflicts with co-workers and as a result, stress yourself out.

      1. BCW

        Thats very true. The jobs I’ve had and done well with had a very laid back office environment, so its likely that I wouldn’t do well in something too rigid.

    5. CathVWXYNot?

      I wonder about the same thing – I’m the office joker in a jokey department. I’ve toned it back from when I worked in a lab, when that kind of thing was much more common (and I work very efficiently and get great performance reviews), but I do wonder if/how my less-than-serious personality affects my standing with the higher-ups.

      My boss’s boss reads and comments on my rather silly blog and tells me she really enjoys it, so hopefully not too much…

      1. CathVWXYNot?

        (I’m also the office geek due to getting so excited about the very cool science we do, as well as about cool science from other labs. I’m also known as the only person in the group who actually enjoys grant writing. So I’m not *just* the office joker :) )

        1. Shannon313

          I sympathize. Sometimes the PTB are feeling jokey and other times not so much….I’m always joking around and am sarcastic by nature. I just try to be careful. I also like certain words that aren’t universally acceptable so I try to watch that, too. Thankfully my work output and quality are awesome, so even if the filter isn’t working and something inappropriate sl

    6. AnonAnony

      We recently interviewed someone that described himself as unflappable, but what came across was seeming disengaged. I think that if the candidate had made clear specific reasons he wanted to be at our company, why our work interested him, etc. we would have agreed with the unflappable view.

  5. SweetMisery

    I’ve applied to an internal position at another site, and had a well known coworker call on my behalf to one of the people involved in hiring.

    I got a response from the guy in the new place saying he’ll keep me in mind for positions, but there was one posted that I already applied to. How do I mention it without making it sound like I think he’s a liar (I don’t, I’ve known people here who weren’t aware of open positions online for a direct report).

    1. CollegeAdmin

      You could reply to him with something along the lines of, “Hi Wakeen, Thank you for keeping me in mind for any positions at Chocolate Teapots, Inc. I just wanted to let you know that I submitted an application for the Teapot Designer opening currently posted. If you think I’d be a good fit, I’d love to chat more about the position. Sincerely, SweetMisery”

      That way, you’re alerting him to the fact that you applied without implying that he should or does already know that.

  6. Sabrina

    Non work related: There’s been a lot of reference lately to World of Warcraft/Blizzard. I’m wondering if there are other WoW players out there amongst the AAM readers? If so, where/what do you play?

    I play a Horde side ret pally on Wyrmrest Accord-US.

    1. Anonymous

      Yo! Ally mostly – Priest always – Dooooooomhammer (home of the great and powerful Greyfoo who if you don’t know go google)

    2. Gene

      Mains on Akama, Goblin Warlock and Worgen Hunter

      Main on Madoran, Troll Hunter with a battle pet oriented guild.

    3. Steven M

      WoW player in remission. :) Gnome tank deathknight and dwarf rogue; to be honest I’m not sure which server I left them on (been on Garrosh, Argent Dawn, and at least one other).

      I play FFXIV now. :)

      1. KC

        Also a WoW player in remission. I stopped playing shortly after WotLK. I’ve never been super into raiding, so there was really no appeal for me after levels got maxed out and questing got repetitive.

        I’m personally waiting impatiently for DA: Inquisition to drop next year. :)

    4. Sascha

      WoW player for several years, mostly hunters, both factions. I’ve moved onto Star Wars: The Old Republic.

    5. nyxalinth

      Hordie mostly, with occasional forays into Ally! I have three dorfs an a gnome on Ally side. Most of my Horse are on Proudmoore, but I have toons on Icrcrown and Dawnbringer, too.

    6. FRRibs

      I finally broke free atwo years ago, but was Hordecore from day 1, did a lot of raiding and at one point we were top 25 on Area 52.

      Ele Troll Sham
      Tauren Pally (changed from BE as soon as it was available)
      Tauren DK
      Tauren Druid…I levelled this guy in vanilla when there was no dual-spec. You want to know how much fun it is farming when you’re healer specced with healer raid gear? It’s like watching two prot pallys duel.

      I had alts of every other class to max level too but these were my largest repository of memories.

      Favorite memories:
      -Early Argent Dawn server when the entire server was RPers.
      -Alterac Vally when it had NPC troops, summoning elementals, and battles that literally went for hours.
      -Kharazan with drunk friends
      -Thrall in outland quest
      -Sneaking with lowby friends to the dwarf starting area on a PVP server so our hunter could get a pet.
      -Safety dance!
      -Plague wing of Icecrown. When we finally downed the Professor, my bucket list got smaller.
      -Taking over the Alliance flight path in the plaguelands and holding off all comers for an hour.
      -UBRS as the only healer, and those dang invisible rogues.
      -4+ hour BRD/LBRS/UBRS runs in vanilla

      I could go on for hours. A great game when you have a good guild.

    7. Jen in RO

      It seems I’m the only European *sad face*

      I play a druid called Jen on Alonsus (Ally). I’ve been on an extended break after the last patch (due to burnout from DS heroic and due to my guild’s raiding schedule), but I’m thinking of coming back for the proving grounds.

      1. Sissa

        You’re not the only European player – and hey, I used to play on Alonsus! Then our guild moved to Draenor because Alonsus was getting empty.

        Currently maining a holy priest in semi-casual guild on Horde side (toned down from hardcore server firsts and heroic mode grind). Draenor-EU.

        You DO need to try proving grounds! Even though I’ve been playing since 2007, I could not make it to Gold on proving grounds. They are really challenging!

        Ahh, gotta love all the closet WoW players here! :)

    8. Loose Seal

      I used to play WoW but stopped when I went back to school. Just not enough time to do everything.

      However, I’m playing a phone app game called Book of Heroes that seems to get a lot of WoW enthusiasts. It takes a lot less time but still gives me the guild/social feeling and the ability to raid on the go. I highly recommend it. It’s on iOS, Android, and it just be available on the Kindle Fire.

  7. Cat

    Oh God, that is not helping my resolve not to get a kitten right now. How fricking cute is she.

    I’m curious what people whose companies have casual Friday do when you have candidates coming in to interview who will invariably be in a suit. Do you dress up a bit or do you wear normal casual Friday clothes? I’ve been opting for the latter, but I’ve been wondering whether that makes the discrepancy between me and the candidates too large and them uncomfortable. (Them in a suit and me in business casual doesn’t bother me.) On the other hand, maybe it’s nice to give them a sense of our culture and the fact that Fridays really are casual around here.

    1. Wilton Businessman

      I interviewed at my current company on a Friday. I came dressed in a business suit and everybody was in jeans. I thought, “gee, this is pretty casual, I think I will like it!”

      Fast forward three weeks and I started the job on a Monday. I played it safe with khakis and a polo on my first day and everybody else was in a shirt and tie! You know what they say about assume!

      Anyway, if your office is super casual on Friday and business casual other days, I’d say wear business casual on interview Friday’s.

    2. Colette

      I’m in high tech. I’ve worn more dressy clothes than every interviewer I’ve ever had.

      If it’s a casual Friday thing, though, I’d casually mention it in conversation so that they don’t show up on their first day wearing something inappropriate.

      1. Elizabeth West

        My current boss told me NOT to wear a suit to my onsite team interview (ours was over the phone), because the office was very casual. I wore khakis, a turtleneck, and a blazer and boots. It was nice, yet not too dressed up–my interviewers were in jeans and sweatshirts. Knowing you look appropriately nice is a great confidence booster.

        Now I wear jeans and a company t-shirt to work every day. :D Whee!

    3. ExceptionToTheRule

      I had this issue last month. I was interviewing people on days when I was going off site to do dirty, hot work on location and one of the interviews was immediately before I was leaving the building. I was dressed in a polo, shorts and sneakers and I simply handled it by explaining why and used the opportunity to talk about our company culture.

    4. Jubilance

      I interviewed for my last job on casual Friday, and to top it off, it was a lab role where people are already pretty casual due to the nature of the work. As the candidate it didn’t bother me at all that I was in a suit and they were in jeans.

    5. Harryv

      I would just let it be. I think it is more difficult on the interviewee when you tell them, “Oh.. it’s casual friday so dress casually!”. I would be extremely uncomfortable coming with jeans and t-shirt for an interview.

      1. Cat

        Oh yeah, that is definitely off the table – we’re a law firm and I want to see that they know what constitutes formal dress for our profession.

    6. periwinkle

      Why not wear your normal Monday-Thursday clothes on that day? Explain to the interviewee that it’s Casual Friday but normally people wear [fill in the appropriate level of business formality]. I’d hate to accept a job thinking it’s a casual environment, and then arrive on my first Monday as the only female not in heels and hosiery.

      Way back when, I was in tech support at a Silicon Valley manufacturer. I’ll never forget the bewildered expression of a young lady who was escorted in for an interview with our office manager. You see, it was October 31 and we had a costume contest… our office manager was dressed as a bunny. Not just ears – I mean a full body bunny suit. Bright pink. The interviewee turned approximately the same color.

      (One of my co-workers improvised a costume by taping a power supply and ribbon cables to his head and entering the contest as a hard drive. He won. I miss working in tech, sigh.)

      1. 22dncr

        OMG – memories! At one of my Silicon valley start-ups someone came as an inter-office envelope. It was awesome!

    7. PJ

      I had a job interview once for a management position at a well-known teaching center that had “clothing optional” hot tubs. Nobody ever chose the clothing option. What the heck do you wear to an interview at a place like that?!

      My previous job had been at an agency that served the homeless population. I am not kidding you when I say my homeless folks dressed better than the employees at this center.

      I got the job, and learned that “dressing up” for work meant wearing the clean tee shirt and the jeans without holes. Nobody dressed up for work. It was awesome.

    8. Anon

      We do jeans and logo shirts on Friday as long as we don’t have any grand high muckety mucks coming in. But when I interview, regardless of day, it’s in a suit/dress/business dress outfit.

    9. Sam

      I wear a jacket if I’m interviewing a candidate on casual Friday, for 2 reasons. One, I’m representing my company to the general public (the candidate) and my company is better represented by a jacket than casual wear. Second, I want to set the right tone for the candidate. They are taking the meeting seriously by dressing up, so I want to show that I am, too. This just happened yesterday and it’s as hot as hell in Phoenix and I would rather not have been wearing a jacket, but the candidates I interviewed did, so I did, too.
      If it’s a Friday where I’m at my desk working on spreadsheets or on conference calls all day, I’m definitely much more casual.

  8. Holly

    Found out yesterday my coworker makes $15k more than me. Same job, same time at the company, he just asked for more.

    Definite motivation to get out of here.

    1. Wilton Businessman

      Before you knew what he made, were you satisfied with your job? When was the last time you’ve talked to your manager about a raise and is it warranted? (knowing that just because Bob makes $15K more is not warranted)

      1. Holly

        No; at my company, only the owner and HR are involved in raises – they don’t even tell managers that their employees are getting a raise; I got one a month ago, but so did he, so the giant gap is still there. My manager has explicitly told me I’m the go-to person in the department and that they trust my work way more than my coworker’s stuff, but my coworker has more of the owner’s favor.

        1. Wilton Businessman

          The only advice I can give you is that if you don’t think you are fairly compensated and you’ve just gotten a raise, it’s time to move on.

          Realize that the grass is not always greener and there will always be someone that makes more than you for the same job.

        2. junipergreen

          I’d ask your manager to go to bat for you and work this out with HR and the owner, because your manager is the one who has the view into you and your coworker’s comparable performances.

      2. ThursdaysGeek

        No, because I knew I was underpaid and had asked for ways to move to the next level. I never got a good response on that at LastJob. But ThisJob and LastJob both started after unemployment, so I wasn’t in a strong negotiating position. Other than the pay, I loved LastJob: the work, my supervisor, my co-workers. I think I’ve finally been at ThisJob long enough to approach them about a pay increase, but it will never be large enough to even get me back to where I was at my underpaid LastJob.

      3. ThursdaysGeek

        It seems commonly believed that those who are underpaid are happily ignorant of that fact. I think it’s at least as common is that we know and are quietly unhappy, working harder to prove our worth, hoping that there is a way we can find to move our pay up to our co-workers, and knowing that in most cases, no matter what we say or do, the company will NOT give a big raise to make the equal work have more equal pay.

        It also seems commonly believed that if you don’t like your pay you should simply go find another job where you get paid better. That is not a black and white decision, with benefits to an existing job that might not occur in the next, requirements to stay long enough in a job to have it help your resume, and more.

        1. Bea W.

          I stayed at a place knowing I was underpaid for my field, but I loved the work I was doing and the people I worked with. As soon as I was off that project and was no longer as happy with where things were going, I left pretty quickly. My field is a small world, and people in it know when they’re being underpaid, but some of them just choose to stay where they are various reasons. Sometimes the non-monetary benefits outweigh the less-than-optimum paycheck.

        1. Jules

          Yeah. Personally I have issues with asking more pay myself. It took a while for me to figure out the range I am comfortable with as oppose to whatever the company would pay me would do.

    2. Briggs

      Some of the best career advice I’ve ever received is: you won’t get it unless you ask for it.

      As women, we tend to not ask as much or as insistently. Instead we assume that our superiors will recognize and reward our initiative and good work. That’s usually not the case.

      Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” discusses this in detail, and The Boss Show had an episode that talked about this.

      If you want to make more, you like your job, and you’re getting feedback that you’re doing awesome work, then go ask for more. Good luck!

      1. Pussyfooter

        At least *ask* for more before deciding you need to leave a job you otherwise like!
        Am working my way through “Ask For It” by Linda Babcock/Sara Laschever. It seems clear from their examples of real life that just because someone recently got a raise doesn’t mean that they can’t lay out the numbers/facts for why they should be receiving X more salary/benis than they are currently getting.

      1. Anonymous

        I don’t know OP said above here that they were the go – to and had higher performance.

        Performance output does not equal pay. Other things often matter, like do you negotiate (which might be a good indicator in a job where negotiation is part of the skillset, but not in other jobs), or prior pay (because the company wrongly thinks that matters), or when they started, or what they asked for, or how desperate they were for someone at that moment, or what the hiring manager had for lunch that day. All these things matter. None of them are performance.

    3. CatK

      I empathize a bit…I found out my coworker makes a little more than I do, not that big of a gap, but definitely more. And he was hired a year after I started work there, and my boss frequently tells me I am an excellent employee, the department’s go-to person, and that he can’t give Coworker projects like he can give to me, because Coworker won’t do them or do them to completion. He often gives me high-level projects and management tasks, and Coworker just does tickets (it’s a help-desk type job).

      It wasn’t a negotiation thing – the salaries are fixed when you apply and this company does not negotiate at all. It was just that when Coworker applied, they reworked the salary and bumped it up a little. However we have had some merit increases over the last couple of years, and Boss has told me I’m the only one on the team getting the increases. Yet my coworker continually has the higher salary. I know this because we’re at a public institution where the salaries are posted online.

      At this point, it’s mostly my fault because I haven’t been advocating for myself like I should, and I really should just get another job. I’m currently searching but it will take a while.

      1. Windchime

        And co-worker is a man and (I assume?) you are a woman. Sometimes it’s just as simple as that. If the guy asks for more, it seems like he’s more likely to get it. It’s a sad but true fact in many places.

  9. Eric

    Latest development in the internal promotion saga: I had my interview and it went well. She told me explicitly to check in with her after a week, so I did that yesterday. The word is that HR has implemented a new policy for internal candidates: they have to complete an assignment. I’m taking this as a good sign.

    I’m curious if others also think this is a good sign. I’m also curious if anyone has had to do something like this.

    1. Anonymous

      My boss told me about a month and a half ago I was getting a promotion. It has been in the works apparently for about 6 months now, they had to make a case to leadership, then senior leadership, then hr. Then I had to put together a portfolio of stuff I’d done. Then I had to have an audit of my position. Who knows what happens next.
      Some day I hope to have the promotion (and raise)!

      I’d take it as a good sign, but also a sign of a company (agency/org/gvt) that is …not quite run by HR but lives in more fear of HR than it should.

    2. Trixie

      I don’t know that this indicates anything towards your application. I do think asking applicants to complete an assignment specific to the new position is an excellent idea. See Gene’s comment upthread at 11:36:

      “We added an impromptu writing assignment after it became clear that a new hire couldn’t write a simple declarative sentence in a job that requires a lot of written communication. It was obvious that someone else wrote or heavily edited his cover letter, resume, and application. And no, he wasn’t ESL.”

        1. Trixie

          It sounds like this applies to all internal candidates so it’s probably neither positive or negative. I’d hope for the best and continue searching.

  10. Vicomte

    What are people’s thoughts on not wearing a suit to an interview when you’re going there straight from work? Is a shit/dress pants/tie acceptable (for a man)? I live in a big city, don’t drive, so bringing another outfit would be impractical to say the least.

    The potential job knows I’m employed if that makes any difference.

    1. Trixie

      I think going with the suit would work in your favor, especially if you’ve submitted “shit” here instead of “shirt.” :) Interviewing is not about avoiding the impractical, its about making the best first impression.

      You’re already wearing the dress pants and tie so already 90% there. Can you stow the suit or jacket in a trusted co-worker’s car or workspace, or at a gym along the way and change later?

    2. EA

      If you’re going to be wearing a shirt, dress pants and a tie anyways, why not wear the whole suit? You can always take off the jacket and/or tie at your current job.

      (and to nitpick typos … wearing a ‘shit’ is never acceptable ;))

    3. Poster formally known as Jane Doe

      Definitely don’t wear shit with your dress pants and tie.

      What’s the vibe of your city/industry like? I am in a design field in a super casual city, so I’ve never worn a suit to an interview, and I’ve gotten prettybmuch every job I’ve interviewed for, so depending on your location it doesn’t seem like a dealbreaker.

    4. Anonymous

      I’m confused. Isn’t the only thing missing between your normal attire and an interview outfit just a suit jacket? Even if it’s a little dressier than normal, I’d just wear the suit, and carry the jacket into work, then hang it on a hanger. If anyone notices that you’re a bit spiffier than normal, pass it off as a date night or laundry day or something.

      1. Cat

        Or my co-worker’s favorite excuse: “oh, I didn’t feel like ironing my shirt, so it was easier just to throw on a jacket.”

      2. Vicomte

        Suit is older, pants are pleated, which you can’t see with the jacket on, but I never wear pleated pants otherwise. Definitely no option to bring jacket into work – dead giveaway. Sounds like I’ll have to bite the bullet and pay for parking so I can bring the suit/change in car.

        1. Anonymous

          If it helps any, I NEVER notice if my co-workers wear pleated pants or not – and I make my own clothes. And if someone does notice? Just tell them you’re trying a new style.

    5. Rindle

      Yeah, gotta wear the suit. Do you have a friend who lives near your office, or between the office and where you’re interviewing? Maybe you could stash your suit there. If you’re seriously job searching, you could start wearing a suit every day (or a couple days a week) so it doesn’t scream “my ‘doctor’s appointment’ is an interview!”

  11. Invisigirl

    I have what would probably be diagnosed as aspergers, or the qualities on would associate with that type of syndrome. I’ve always felt awkward, but have mostly have learned how to work with this. however in a fairly new position where I work as a manager where everyone is very outgoing, and the operations Manager has made it pretty clear that part of my duties is to engage in chit chat with the employees to be able to engage them better. That’s not quite my style, and I know that with time I’ll develop relationships. However, I have been having stress over this resulting in small panic attacks. Is anyone in a similar situation, and how do you deal?

    1. JR

      I wouldn’t let it get to you. Try to engage them in a way that’s comfortable to you and your style. That’s not to say you should totally ignore everyone, but just take baby steps to building up those relationships. If your job focuses heavily on social aspects and it’s part of the job description, I’d say you might need to step it up a bit. Otherwise, just let it happen naturally for you, put yourself slightly out of your comfort zone, but not to the point where it’s going to cause you to panic attacks.

    2. De Minimis

      I am in a similar situation, and have found that as I get accustomed to being around a group of people, it gets easier to interact with them–just have to get past the early stage. I think it took me about six months at my new workplace before I started feeling comfortable.
      I try to remind myself to ask questions, that often helps a lot since people usually enjoy talking about themselves. The challenge is to make sure I don’t just repeat the same questions or otherwise make things seem forced/awkward.

      1. invisigirl

        That’s a challenge for me too, making sure I didn’t already ask that person that question… You’d think it would be easy to remember who you already talked to, but everybody kind of looks the same to me at first.

    3. LizNYC

      I’m a fairly introverted person by nature, but when I need to “create connections” with my coworkers through chitchat and small talk, I rely first on the old standbys: the weather (“will it ever stop raining?”), weekend plans (even just saying, “looking forward to the weekend. Got anything going on?”). Over time, conversations expand (there has to be willingness on both sides) and as you find out more about your employees / colleagues, you’ll learn what interests them (i.e. sports, fishing, movies, etc.) and be able to say “hey, I saw that the Yankees are on a streak” or “checking out that new Oscar contender?”

      And just give yourself a break. If you project a warm, happy demeanor, people will be more open to talking with you.

      1. Chinook

        I agree, if you have a go to social conversation starter, then it helps to get things going. Around here the weather is good as well as hockey or, in June/July the Stampede or summer plans (it is a stereotype for Canadians for a reason). Locally there may be a similar cultural touchstone that it may be worth following to use for discussion. If you have to, go the library and read up on the basics (that is how I learned about Hickey since my dad is an immigrant and my mother never had an interest). I recommend the library because the librarian can point you to good sources if you admit to your lack of knowledge.

    4. Anonymous

      Having a set of rules always helps me.

      Every Monday I talk to the 3 people I work the most with on my team and ask them about their weekends. I always have one prepared anecdote about mine. (One quick easy prepared thing goes a long way.)

      Every Wednesday I make it a point to ask 3 of the other 5 people something engaging about themselves.

      Thursday and Friday I cover the other 2 and then 3 more about the upcoming weekends.

      I make notes to myself. (Ask Beth about her house, compliment Jo’s shoes, etc) Especially if someone has something big coming up, someone is closing on a house next week so for the last month and the next month all I have to say is how is it going and she’ll talk for 10 minutes and feel great and I don’t have to say a thing!

      The more questions you ask the less you have to say. Also smile (sorry but it is true, and it is a short cut to having to do the other stuff.)

      1. Not So NewReader

        Open ended questions are great. This means asking a question that they cannot just answer yes or no. They have to say a few words.
        Anonymous above is totally correct. People will never notice you did not say very much, additionally they will think you are a good conversationalist.

        1. Sascha

          Yes, get other people talking to you don’t have to. That’s always my method. Ask them lots of questions. They will appreciate the attention and interest, and you don’t have to talk that much in return.

      2. Anonymous

        I really think, if you are the manager, you should make it a point to say hello to each and every person on your team every day. I’m not alone in this — there was a podcast saying exactly this on ManagerTools a while back. It’s simply a best practice. I know it is hard, but don’t let that become an excuse.

        1. invisigirl

          I really like the idea of making a list and taking notes. Having something prepared would help with the anxiety of the idea of having to think off the cuff.

          I do try to focus on smiling and say hello to everyone, how are things going, etc… and I’m finding that helps.
          Before I was aware of it, I would just walk around in my own world. I came to realize everyone (in high school) thought I was a snob because I didn’t acknowledge them.

          I sometimes get caught up on how to manage the conversation after the initial greeting, (and the anxiety over that will prevent me from making the engagement) so I think your idea is a good one.

    5. Not So NewReader

      Panic attacks can be a lack of oxygen.
      Here is an exercise:
      Breathe in through your nose. (Close your mouth.)
      Hold the breath for a couple seconds and then open your mouth very slightly and slowly let the breath out of your mouth.
      Repeat.
      This forces oxygen into your blood stream and helps to lessen the panic.

      If I remember to do this when I crawl into bed I sleep better. Bonus.

    6. FD

      Oh, man, I sympathize! I have three (of five) siblings diagnosed with Aspbergers, and I have quite a few traits myself.

      It helps a lot of you can learn the unspoken conventions of social behavior as rules instead of instincts. There are social rules, they’re just mostly unspoken in many cases because it’s expected that people just pick them up by osmosis. For people who have ASD, that may not happen.

      In my opinion, the absolute best manual for this is the classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” (I have the revised edition so I can’t speak to the original 1936 one.) For me, it works because it’s framed as a set of rules, and gives a structure for social interactions.

      Additionally, you may want to start becoming more conscious of your own and others’ nonverbal cues. When I interact, I always have a small part of my brain consciously analyzing the other person’s posture and body language. It doesn’t happen on an instinctive level for me. Try to watch that, but be careful not to stare. It’s easy to do because when you’re trying to watch body language it’s hard not to look too long. Try to hold eye contact for a minimum of one full sentence, but not more than four sentences. Be aware that many people who have Aspberger’s traits employ distancing postures, such as crossing their arms. Try not to do that when you’re conversing, because it makes people think you’re angry or looking down at them.

      Also, you may find it helpful to check out a book on small talk. It can be frustrating because it feels like non-directed activity, but in reality, small talk’s purpose is to allow people to get to be comfortable with each other while discussing safe topics (i.e. topics that people usually don’t get upset about), such as the weather, sports, and so on.

      1. Editor

        Would it help for someone who crosses their arms to wear something with pockets so the hands can go in the pockets? Then they can practice getting their hands out of the way when they chat.

        1. invisigirl

          These responses have been very helpful. I’ll check out that book. I have read about body language, and when I try to be aware of my own, I’ll realize I either have my arms crossed or in trying not to do that I put my hands on hips, so I try to conscientiously fold my hands in front of me or, if I’m sitting, put them on the chair arms or the table.

          It’s almost like swimming. When you focus on breathing, you forget to kick, or when you’re thinking about moving your arms and feet, you forget to breathe. So, If I’m thinking about others reactions and postures, I forget what we’re talking about, or they think I’m angry because I’m frowning at them with my hands on my hips! I guess it’s all in the practice.

  12. j-e to the double n

    I have a question regarding working 2 jobs and when is it ok to walk away from one of them:

    For the past couple of months I have been working 2 jobs one 9-5 full time job at a bank and a part time/seasonal position at a Target located about 40-45 minutes away from my home. It has been going well at Target and they have all but guaranteed asking me to stay on as a permanent (albeit still part time) employee.

    The trouble is, I accepted the job BECAUSE it was seasonal and while I do enjoy the extra money going into my savings account (I do not necessarily need this job to pay my monthly bills, it was just to build some savings), I am getting a little burnt out. Plus, I’m on the fence about just how much I am getting out of this anyway (what with the long commute and gas prices being what they are).

    Do I accept the permanent part-time position or should I look for another part-time situation a little closer to home? Or forego all second jobs and stick with my full time job and hope that they give me a raise at the end of the year (which I have been promised and deserve, IMO)?

    At the beginning of the summer I applied all over my immediate area and no one but the Target called me back.

    Ugh!! I just don’t know what to do!

    1. Wilton Businessman

      What is the difference between part-time seasonal and part-time permanent?

      I understand you’re getting burned out. Perhaps you can negotiate a better/smaller schedule when going permanent? Then you can decide if it’s “worth it” or not.

      Is your 9-5 job one where you would get ahead by staying later and putting in more time? If it is, I would think that the longer term payback would be putting the extra time in at your 9-5 job. JMHO.

      1. Jubilance

        Seasonal means you’re generally hired for a temporary basis, generally during the busy Christmas holiday months. Permanent employees work year-round, whether they are FT or PT.

    2. CollegeAdmin

      I think your two best options are either a) accept it and keep looking for one closer to home, or b) quit, recoup from being “burnt out,” and then possibly look for a holiday seasonal part-time job in a month or two (ideally closer to home). If you’re just part-timing, I don’t think that keeping a 40 minute commute is worth it.

    3. Female sam

      In your situation I would gracefully turn down the permanent position and, if you don’t need the extra income from a second job, focus on your full time job for a few months. Too many people ignore the first signs of burnout, and try to work through it. Doing so could impact your performance at the full time job, which will certainly not help with getting a raise.

      If you do need the second job’s income, I’d start looking more locally for part time positions. Holiday season is fast approaching so I’d imagine there are several part time seasonal openings available that weren’t open a few months ago when you last applied.

      1. JamieG

        This, basically. My store at least will probably start hiring holiday seasonal team members within the next month, so I’d suggest taking s0me time off to get your head back together/enjoy not working two jobs, and then if you need the money try for a (closer) seasonal position.

        Also maybe worth mentioning: If you have a good relationship with your team leads/ETLs, see if they’ll let you take a LOA. A lot of people at my location are teachers who work during the summer and go on LOA during the school year.

    4. Amanda

      As someone who also has a FT 9-5 and a seasonal PT job I want to advise you to be very careful with your own health and well-being (as others have metnioned, too). I was so burnt out that pretty much everything in my life fell apart – poor preformance at both jobs, lots of physical pains and strains from stress, not sleeping, not eating, miserable all the time, major strains in relationships, depression, migraines and panic attacks. it got the point where I could NOT work anymore, and was put on medical leave for alomst 4 months. (Although I collected sickness leave money, it drained my savings that I had worked so hard to build.) If this happens to you, it might affect that raise you’re hoping for…
      I would suggest that if you don’t need the money, either quit Target, or ask for less hours. Maybe take a break and tell them you’d love to be hired on again next season?
      Best of luck!!

    5. Manda

      September to November is usually when retailers are hiring for seasonal positions, so if you want something a little closer to home, this would be a good time to look. But keep in mind that working retail is much more stressful around Christmas than any other time of the year, so if you’re getting burnt out, tread carefully. Maybe taking a slight break now before starting another seasonal job would be helpful. Then you can relax in January and just work the one. It doesn’t sound like working two jobs for an extended period of time is going to work for you.

  13. I just work here

    Can (or should) a company encourage an employee to volunteer outside the office as part of the performance review process?

    Our company has just implemented a new performance review process. One pre-existing part of the process is that the employee has to set a goal supporting the company’s “culture shaping” initiative. While this touchy-feely initiative has always bugged me, I always entered some vauge “I will provide excellent customer service” type of statement.

    However, when the new initiative was being rolled out, a new example response for this part was “I will work with my supervisor to schedule times throughout the year to volunteer at the local [charitable organization] to support my community and represent [my company]”

    While this is definitely not required, to suggest it just seems to be a rather… well.. weird. Should my performance review really be affected (positively or negatively) by my volunteering with local charitable organizations?

    1. Wilton Businessman

      I understand the desire of the company to get you out in the community doing charitable work. I don’t understand making a part of your performance review.

      1. Steve

        Sometimes that’s the only way to get people to do the charitable work for the company’s preferred charity. That’s how it was when I worked for a big orange company years ago. Part of our metrics were based on their charitable work days – and choosing our own charity did not meet that goal.

    2. Ellie H.

      There was a long discussion in comments about whether or not it’s appropriate for companies to encourage/recommend/reward their employees for volunteering for charitable organizations not directly related to the work of the company. I tried to find the post, but couldn’t – it was sometime earlier this year.

      I find it 100% inappropriate and really off-putting, but some people don’t.

      1. De Minimis

        I’ve seen this at other workplaces, it’s not so much that they evaluate people based on whether they are performing charitable work, it’s more that they evaluate how engaged the employee is by looking at their involvement in work-related outside activities. I don’t agree with it either, but it seems to be another step away from a healthy work/life separation.

      2. Victoria Nonprofit

        Ooh, if someone can find this thread and link to it I’d love to check it out. I’m very interested in this question.

      3. Elizabeth West

        Encourage and reward, sure. Insist? NO.

        How I spend my time off the clock is nobody’s business but mine. I dislike volunteering and don’t do it (anymore). I’m happy to donate if I can afford it and it’s something agreeable to me, but my off-hours time is prioritized to other things.

    3. Jazzy Red

      You should see how hard the World’s Largest Retailer leans on its employees to do community volunteer work! Then the company publicizes it like crazy, to show how they support the communities they’re in. If anyone doesn’t want to participate, they get “coached” until they agree.

    4. The IT Manager

      Is this on company time? The “work with supervisor to schedule” sounds like it is. If this work is off the clock, why would you work with your supervisor to schedule it?

      I don’t care for this much, but I have seen it done in the military for people (usually junior) competing for awards. There’s a section for community service. Winning those awards really helps the yearly performance reviews; although the performance reviews don’t usually mention community service.

      I now work for a government agency and one of the categories on an application for a competitive professional development program is leadership activities outside work, but again that would not go on the performance reviews.

      I don’t think it should. It may make you a more well-rounded person and it helps the community, but your work performance reviews really should be judged by your work perfomance only in my opinion.

      1. I just work here

        It didn’t occur to me at first, but yes this would probably be during work hours.

        I don’t have a problem with my company making it easy for me to volunteer. But I see it more of an employee benefit, like an employee discount. The company leverages its large pool of potential volunteers to both help charities and provide the volunteering opportunity to employees who want it. The fact that the company gets good PR is a bonus.

        But it shouldn’t be part of my job, any more than taking advantage of an employee discount is.

    5. SAK

      My company gives employees the opportunity to take one or two work days off per year to do community service. The days do not count against PTO. There is no organization specified although there are a couple that are suggested based on the industry we are in. It’s not required though, just an option if employees want to do something.

  14. some1

    Any advice on correcting a new supervisor and manager in my department (not my sup or manager) when they do not follow procedures (because they don’t know) which end up costing me more time to fix?

    1. the gold digger

      Yes. Teach them the procedures. Say, “It looks like you might not know how we temper teapots here. We have discovered that this process reduces re-work 20%, which translates into $X of annual savings. Let me show you the process and give you the documentation.”

    2. JamieG

      Do it! Be pretty matter of fact about it, especially since they’re new. “Just so you know, we actually try to follow X procedure.” Or, if you’re not comfortable with them, maybe try mentioning it to your supervisor/manager and see if they’ll step in. I usually go the first route, but if I get the feeling that a new manager isn’t going to be receptive to me telling them about procedures, I’ll ask someone on their level with whom I have a good relationship to try to intervene.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Sometimes you can get away with:

      “Hey want to see how to do this in a way that takes a lot less time?”

      Sometimes if I am feeling a little miffed I might say:
      “Do you have a minute? I want to show you something. I am thinking no one else has showed you this yet. But when you do A and B, that causes C to happen. When C gets to me I have to fix it so that it looks like D. See, D is what we need here. We use D to for x and y purposes. From me, D travels over to Sue who adds in E.”

      I give them an idea of work flow and purposes. Most people say “hey thanks for explaining that to me. Good to know.” And sometimes I get an earful about the lack of training going on and they are so grateful I took the time, etc.

    4. Mike C.

      Are these procedures part of a legally (civil or criminal) regulated or otherwise certified work environment? If so, you have a lot more leeway in correcting these actions. Otherwise if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself talk to your bosses and move it up the food chain.

  15. Helen

    I have this theory that people in offices who love to have whispered conversations, worry about interpersonal drama and just otherwise wank about non work related issued are always the employees who spend years in roles that are lower on the totem pole and end up making only lateral moves if they ever do change jobs. I try not to say anything within the office that I wouldn’t be comfortable with random passersby hearing. Whenever I see people having hushed conversions I get a little judgey. Am I out of line?

    I was wondering others’ thoughts on this. Do people like this ever get ahead?

    1. Marilla

      I generally agree with you. Sometimes you can get useful information from those co-workers, but I try to avoid whispery hallway gossip/negativity fests. And give non-committal responses to other people’s complaints about particular co-workers/managers.

    2. Jules

      Ugh, I know of a place where you have to be in the ‘in’ crowd to get ahead. So depending on the environment I think. Pretty scary experience because I don’t like talking about things they like talking about. Not surprising that I didn’t last a year.

    3. Not So NewReader

      I fall into that judgey thing, too. And I catch myself thinking that makes me different from them HOW? I don’t think it’s out of line to get judgey. I think it is human nature. However, if I am wasting brain space on other people’s actions then my work suffers. I am just a little less sharp or just a little less efficient.
      It’s a train of thought that goes no-wheresville, fast.
      Some people actually do not want to move up the totem pole. So this is the best they will ever have.
      They want what they have.
      I want something more.
      Differences in people.

      Some of these folks do move up. But not all. Some folks will confide in me later on “I never hear you bad mouthing anyone. It is refreshing to work with you.”
      (In fairness, I have said things from time to time. But it is not all day long and every single day. This makes an illusion that I never say anything.)

    4. Anonymous

      It is kind of funny to read this because the last few whispery conversations I’ve had at work have been I wanted to share good news that wasn’t broad knowledge yet. Like I got a promotion or I get to present or Big Bad Boss found out I get to present and sought me out to personally congratulate me!

      I also have conversations with one colleague who is very high up in the organization where she shares frustrations and such but I think she only does that with me because I am apparently very good at keeping all that in confidence and I’m outside her work department. So maybe?

    5. Dang

      I have a loud voice so I always try to talk softly at work when there are people around… I have always thought this might look like I’m gossiping. Hmmm.

    6. MiaE97042

      Yes, they do, I work for one, and it’s maddening. I think it’s good policy to avoid that behavior though if you plan to move up, if only because even if people like getting the gossip from this type of person, they wouldn’t be comfortable promoting or reporting to one…

  16. A regular commenter posting anonymously

    Question: I’m an extreme introvert, and I now have a new boss who is an extreme extrovert. We’re in a field that definitely favors extroverts (marketing), but my role (email marketing) is definitely a better fit for introverts. She’s super involved in and interested in the more “extrovert”- centric projects our team has (events, parties, schmoozy things), and even though she’s new, she’s already very close with the people who work on those teams.

    For what I do, my role is really technical, and I work best in a headphones on/ no distractions environment. My question is – how can I have a good working relationship with a boss who doesn’t really understand what I do, and who I can’t relate to at all when in casual friendly conversations, the group’s talking about events/parties that I have no interest in going to? I feel like it’s hurting me professionally that I’m not interested in the “cool” things going on in our city. Our company has a lot of external parties/events, and only the people on our team who work on them are invited. That’s perfectly fine (and preferred!) by me because I wouldn’t want to go, but my boss is much closer to those people.

    1. Anonymous

      The real issue to me is that she doesn’t understand what you do; that’s a pretty crucial piece of information for your boss to have. One suggestion would be to take her out to lunch to go over metrics and goals for your specific role, so she understands what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Then kick butt at those goals! You may never been close to your boss as friends, but doing your job well and advocating for yourself (which as a fellow introvert I know can be uncomfortable, but is an important stretch for all of us) will at least create a relationship of respect, especially if your work is excellent.

    2. Yup

      I’m an extreme introvert too, so I get it. One method is to ask your boss if you can have regular “check-in” meetings with her — 30 or 45 minutes, ideally once or twice a month. The tone is simply, “I want to make I’m getting you the important updates, and to make sure I’m on track with how you want priorities handled.” If she agrees, use these one-on-one times as a combo of job talk and relationship/trust building. At each one, give a quick rundown of critical updates and highlights, and then move into what’s on deck for the next month/quarter/year. She’ll get to know your work, which is really important, but she’ll also get to hear how you: approach problems, prioritize important tasks, deal with difficult people, etc. And if the updates go well, they could eventually morph into doing the occasional updates over coffee or at lunch etc, which would also engage her extrovert energy.

    3. Anon14

      Hmmm, I’m an introvert in an extrovert industry too (sales). I find it helpful to use the alone time you do have with your boss to have meaningful conversations – about work, if that’s all you want to talk about – but make use of that time. Try to create one-on-one time if you don’t already have it on the books.
      Re: events. Try to go to whatever ones you are invited to and can make it. I often dread industry events, but I push myself to go and sometimes enjoy them. It really is good for your career to get out there as much as you can, and if you feel awkward about it, you are not alone.
      But as for people talking about events and parties that you have no interest in, it wouldn’t hurt to just feign a little interst, ask some questions, and say “it sounds like you had a great time, that’s lovely”
      If there is truly a company culture of attending trendy events all the time, it may be a fit issue and in the long-term, you may want to find someplace that is more relaxed and casual. Marketing agencies and companies with marketing departments do run the gamut in terms of culture. Overall though, I can relate to what you are experiencing.

    4. fposte

      Are you concerned about the relationship with your boss, or the disparity between her relationship with you and hers with your co-workers? (Could easily be both.) If your work is really different, then a certain amount of contact disparity is inevitable. However, you can take the lead in building a relationship with her–you can openly say that because of the way you work, you don’t have much chance for regular exchanges with her, and could you schedule in a regular catch-up meeting every two weeks or so?

      Does your workflow allow you to take a piece of event planning now and then (even though it’s not your thing)? That might be worth doing as well if so, to avoid it always being Everybody Else and then You. Also, if there’s communal lunch, coffee, whatever that you’re currently not participating in, consider doing a couple of sacrificial ones a month. You really don’t have to relate to chatty people in conversations–just ask after stuff they like to do and then listen. And really do listen, so that you have information to keep asking them about at future social occasions.

    5. HAnon

      From one introvert to another, make sure that your interactions with her — and with other co-workers — are friendly and upbeat. I know it isn’t fair, but sometimes being introverted can come across as being unfriendly or anti-social, just because introverts don’t want to be the life of the party. You do want to establish a professional reputation as a person who is positive and helpful. That doesn’t mean you have to act like an extrovert, but you might have to step a little bit out of your comfort zone initially. It doesn’t take too much effort to give someone a smile and say “Hey! how’s it going over there?” or ask about their weekend/new movie that just came out/new puppy they adopted/etc. You don’t have to have deep — or even LONG — conversations with people to convey general friendliness and sociability. This is how I approach my interactions with most of my co-workers and peers, and they understand that when I put on my headphones, I’m focused on my work — but I’m also open to taking a 30 second break to chat or catch up with a co-worker. It’s not being extroverted or introverted, it’s just being human. (And I will readily confess to you that this did not come naturally to me for a long time — I used to be painfully shy, but I made an effort to really improve my “soft skills” and now feel comfortable in most situations, whether it’s meeting a new colleague, leading a group meeting, or calling a new client on the phone.)
      As a side note, I manage a group on linkedin called “the power of introverts” — you might enjoy reading some of the posts and comments from people in similar situations and how they’ve managed similar situations in jobs and relationships with extroverts.

    6. LMW

      I am also an introvert, and I used to work with a boss who is an extrovert in a Communications role. I LOVED working with her, because she made a real effort to understand our differences and take a divide and conquer approach to our work as a department. Because she took the time to understand what I like and how I work best and how it compared to what she liked and how she worked best, we made a great team (She’d go after the big picture, I’d fill in the details; she’d be the on-camera talent for videos, I’d make sure the mics were working; she’d lead all the planning meetings, I’d work out the schedules and draft the follow up materials). I think that might be the key — acknowledging the differences and knowing how you balance each other out. Of course, it really helps if your boss is the one leading this charge, but you need to think of how you provide balance in team too. How is your introverted nature and advantage? What does it add to the team? Then carve that out as your role. You’re the techie person. You’re the _____. Think of how that identity fits into your long term goals and how you want to be thought of by your boss and your team. And own it.

  17. Victoria Nonprofit

    An entirely hypothetical question: What benefits/issues/etc. would you negotiate at your current job, knowing what you know now about the work/climate/travel/etc.?

    For example: I’m in my first job that involves a great deal of travel. Now that I’ve spent a year traveling extensively for work, I would definitely negotiate travel details (e.g.: preferred airline, direct flights, concrete arrangements around flight times/etc.). These are things that I have discussed with my bosses and gotten support with; it didn’t occur with me to ask about them or negotiate that when I took the job.

      1. AdAgencyChick

        Oh my god, how I would love this. But I wouldn’t even try to negotiate for it, because I know I’d get laughed out of the room. We’re pressed for space, and all but C-level execs here have either shared offices or a cubicle.

        Why is it back when my title was Lowly Copy Peon, I had an office, and now that I’m Moderately High-Ranking Pooh-Bah of Copy, I have a cube?

        1. Manda

          I’m picturing you going to the bank, hoping to get approved for a loan, and the bank manager raises an eyebrow when you hand over your pay stub listing your title of “Lowly Copy Peon.” That is too funny.

      2. Jules

        Yeah, an office is nice. I always had once since I graduated and did not realize what a privilege it was until I had to work in a cube.

        I would negotiate leave if possible. Some company have fixed ones but I’ve had companies which relaxed the rule a wee bit since I had paid travel plans before I came on board.

        One work environment that I am hard core about is about flexible working time. I don’t abuse them but there has been occasions when I needed to unplug from work and work in a coffee shop during work hours. I have worked in companies where people ignore close doors before!!! Or when my child was in the hospital (she was below a year then and no one could give her medicine except mommy for some reason), I had worked from the hospital without utilizing any leave. Then again, I have always needed some level of ‘white noise’ (not the kind that’s machine made) when it’s crunch time and I am writing/studying/working on Excel. It happens a few times a year but I would be pretty honest about that.

      3. Elizabeth West

        That would be nice. I’m an admin but I also edit, and being in a cube SUCKS for that, especially when many people around me do phone support. I’ve mitigated some of the distractions by using noise-reduction headphones, and by loading music on my phone and an iPod kept charged and ready in my briefcase. There’s no way I merit an office, since even my team leader doesn’t have one.

        1. kristinyc

          I want a cubicle. We’re in a very open and loud office. We’re building a new office to move into next year, but cubicles are already off the table. :(

          1. j-e to the double n

            I think I’m one of the weirdos who actually moved into an office and misses the cubicle. I don’t like being cut off from the rest of the workplace. I feel my brain start to wander away more often when I know there is less a chance of being “seen”. I also miss the camaraderie of being able to have quick conversations with my cube-mates without leaving my desk. :-(

            1. Steve

              I think a lot depends on the office space you’re working in. My current “private” office is like a giant bionic ear that funnels sound from the entire building right into my brain. The front is a glass wall and I’m on the main hallway that has the restrooms and break rooms at the end, so there is constant traffic passing by me. However, a cubicle I was in a few years ago was freaking awesome – on the last row of cubicles, along the back wall which had windows that faced out into the courtyard and gazebo. I had 6 foot walls and an ergonomic workspace that could be raised and lowered for standing or sitting. Based on my current set up, I’d go back to that cubicle any day!

      4. Ellie H.

        Yeah. Getting my own office is one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me, and I feel so lucky and appreciative to have my own office at the age of only 26. (I’m already experiencing hedonic adaptation though, I can tell.) I used to sit at a reception desk, when it wasn’t totally necessary for our office to have a receptionist and it really distracted me from other concentration-requiring work, not to mention, coworkers constantly talking to each other in front of my desk, or chattering to me because I am within sight.

        I do close my door a lot (it’s closed right now) which I feel bad about because a lot of people don’t around here, but I’m honestly pretty easily distracted and it helps to put me in a mindset of focusing. I try to leave it open when my supervisors are in the office and/or it’s a busy time when people will want to ask me questions periodically during the day.

      5. The IT Manager

        We’re moving in 6 months and have already been told our cubes will be smaller, with less storage space, and lower walls.

        I have no problem with cubicals, but we work on virtual teams – not with the people we sit next to – and are on the phone a lot. Lower cubical walls means more noise from your neighbors conversation.

        On a plus side since we have moved to using the computer audio, they are buying us computer head phones and mics like we already have for the phones.

        1. Windchime

          What is the reason for the lower cube walls? I find it interesting that the “open, collaborative concept” offices are usually designed by people who have an office they can retreat to.

          I would love an office with a door. My favorite day of the week is my work-at-home day, where the most annoying thing I have to deal with is the cat who wants to help me type. No annoying coworker constantly laughing in the cube next door, nobody talking on the speaker phone, no “huddles” outside my cube. Just quiet and work and the cat.

  18. Jubilance

    So in the last open thread I noted that my new boss was weird & seemed to be afraid to offend me. After having 1-on-1 talks with my teammates, I’ve learned that: 1) he’s like that with everyone and 2) I’m not the only one who doesn’t like his management style or working with him.

    This is a first for me – I’ve been lucky to have managers that I had a good rapport with & we generally got along well. Now I have a manager who is a micromanager, an overpromiser to higher ups, and his main goal in this job is to get as much face time with the directors and VPs as possible so he can be promoted to senior manager. Joy.

    I’ve been in role for a year, and in my company the standard is that people move roles every 18 months (don’t debate me on this, its the norm here. If you’re in role longer than 2 years, people wonder what is wrong with you). I’m now expected to begin to network and have informational interviews in the areas I’m interested in to figure out what I want my next role will be, which I’m doing. The problem is my manager – he won’t be an active supporter or advocate for my move so I’m going to have to circumvent him. Not because he doesn’t think I can do the job – its his practice to not support anyone who wants to move off his team onto another role.

    My idea/plan is to build up my network mostly amongs senior managers so that when an opportunity presents itself, it will be the senior manager coming and saying “We really want Jubilance for this role and we’d like her to move” so that my manager can’t say no. Any other ideas/suggestions/things to try/advice on how to make this happen? I definitely want to move into another role on another team when I’m able but I know my current manager is going to be my biggest roadblock/hurdle.

    1. Jules

      Have you talked with him about it? I am huge about talking in an honest but respectful way to my supervisor. But some supervisor don’t appreciate that much honesty (ouch?) and YMMV.

      “Hey X, I’ve been at this role for Y length and the norm here is for me to start looking at where is my next step. What is your opinion on this?”

      I’d start out neutral and see where it goes. If he clearly say, you are on your own about this, then do the work around. But it’s better to get the real picture on where he stand on it. He might be able to help connect you to your future boss/position if he knows you are interested?

      Again, I am not aware of your actual situation, so my opinion might not be relevant.

      1. Jubilance

        I’m very hesitant to do this – current & former team members have all cautioned against this because my current manager doesn’t take that discussion well and resorts to a “I’m not letting you leave” response. I’m pretty sure he would give me the same answer given his track record and I’d rather he not be actively trying to block me from leaving. I’d rather he just not be an advocate or a detractor. I know if I talk to him about it, he’ll be an active detractor.

        1. A Teacher

          I’ve seen this in the former company I worked for with my clinic director. Fortunately, I didn’t work for that director but was just in and out doing work comp related testing. He was very controlling of “his” employees and would take great offense if the employees wanted to do anything or move to a role that he didn’t like. He once yelled at one of the front office staff for taking a 20 minute break to pump her breast milk. She told us he had been suggesting when she go everyday (I know, weird) but this time he didn’t tell her and well, she just needed to pump. He came back and said “well, I thought at your child’s age I’d just tell you that you were done pumping.” Everything had to be his idea and anything that wasn’t his became a huge issue. PTs would circumvent him by using the networking like you are talking about and it usually worked. It was interesting when I finally met his wife–he was the exact same way with her, so I guess home life spilled over into work life or vice versa. I think he finally got managed out but he was a weird dude.

    2. periwinkle

      So your org culture norm is to change roles every 18 months, and your boss is not supportive of this standard, expected part of the org culture? Ugh.

      Perhaps you can track down some people who were in your workgroup at an earlier stage and made the shift to another role. They may have some strategic advice on how to achieve the EXPECTED career growth without allowing this boss to get in the way.

      I’m surprised your boss’s boss hasn’t discussed with him the need to be supportive when his employees want to do what is *the norm* in your organization. It sounds like he might be taking the desire to transfer as personal rejection rather than a career moves!

      1. Jubilance

        I wonder if his bosses know that he’s actively working against the company norm of moving roles every 18 months – they can’t give him the feedback to embrace that if they don’t know. Another great suggestion – thanks!

    3. Anonymous

      I think working it as you suggest is fine, but I wanted to toss out an idea in case Boss decides to initiate a conversation (“I heard you have been talking to Other Leader about opportunities”). You might see if you can convey the idea that Boss is judged by the quality of rotations obtained by his subordinates, as this reflects directly on his core skills for coaching or developing talent.

      I think this is a legitimate assessment by the way, but I mentioned it here because territorial attitude is often accompanied by ego, and you may want to think about whether it’s possible to turn that around to your advantage. It may be too risky to initiate that conversation, but you might be able to redirect him if necessary – as long as you’re not taken off guard and have a plan ready.

  19. Jules

    How do I stop self sabotaging at final interviews?

    I do great but as soon as I feel that things are going really well, I say something random and it just goes downhill from there.

    Technically, not getting some of the jobs wasn’t bad since I didn’t get a great vibe in the first place but I have a final interview in about 2 weeks and I love the people on the team. I would work like a dog for people I enjoy being around (not a matured point of view but I worked hard for 10 years for some bullies and I am tired of it). I am scared that I might bomb this interview too!

    And how do I know the difference between sounding confident vs bragging? I think I do sound like a jackass sometimes, if only it’s an email and I can delete and rephrase things. English is my second language so any tips would help greatly! Thanks!

    1. Not So NewReader

      Could it be that you won’t self sabotage this time because you really like the job?

      I have found that jobs I really liked and wanted brought out a different reaction in me. It could be the previous jobs you just didn’t “feel it” like you do now.

      I would start by speaking LESS. Make a commitment to saying less words.
      And think about the difference between bragging and showing confidence.
      Bragging:
      “I am the best employee you could possibly hire!”
      Confidence:
      “I am excited to be working here. It’s a privilege. I want to do my absolute best for this company.”

      Maybe thinking about what you want to say in your original language and then translating to English will help you prepare. All you need is a few sentences. Using quiet time at home to think it through might just be the key for you.

    2. Parfait

      Can you give an example of how you self sabotage? “something random” could be anything from “Spoon! Fork! Abracadabra!” to “Have I mentioned I really hate you?”

    3. fposte

      Have you gotten feedback that indicates it was what you said that was a problem? If you haven’t, are you sure that it was something about your interview and not just that there were better candidates? (I’m also kind of curious to know what random thing you said :-).)

      I think either way you’d benefit from some mock interviews. Do you have friends who would be willing to do a serious job of that, or do you have access to any college or employment office opportunities from those? Whether it’s that your self-consciousness makes you feel like you bombed when you didn’t or that your stress is interfering with your performance, practice should help a lot.

      And think a little about why this is happening when it’s happening. Is it not just when things are going well but also when you get tired, for instance, which also can happen a ways in to an interview? Do you feel like it’s because doing well makes you relax too soon, or because the success brings new stress? Not So NewReader offered a great tip for helping you weigh your words more when you might be tempted to blurt; a glass of water can be helpful for that too, as it’s always appropriate to sip thoughtfully rather than blurting to fill a silence. If you have notes for the interview, you can leave a big-print tip for yourself on top (“Breathe! Think! Then Say!” or something) to remind yourself, too.

      But really, I’d say practice. Mix up the practice questions, let them come up with some curveballs, have an idea of what *you* want to cover in the interview so you can think about what you’d like to touch on next rather than letting the random brain thoughts come to the fore.

  20. evilintraining

    I work for a small company (proprietorship). Since taking the job in April, I’ve learned that the owner is kind of scatter-brained, implements policies then revokes them a week later, almost never gives increases, and doesn’t conduct reviews on a regular basis. (I should have had my 90-day review in July; I’ve discussed it with him three times and am still waiting.) Sometimes there’s a lot of work, but then he’ll shut down the online sales tool he pays for, and I’ll sit for days on end with very little or nothing to do. The other division I was hired to work with isn’t even close to getting off the ground. Is there any way to coax someone like that toward positive change, or should I just dust off my resume and start looking again?

    1. saro

      It’s so hard to get people like that to change. I wish I could give you advice or an example where I’ve coaxed an owner to change but I really haven’t. I’d say you’d have a better chance if it’s a supervisor/manager but the owner pretty much sets the tone of the company culture.

  21. anon

    Woohoo, open thread! Great timing too since I have a story to share with you all.

    To set the stage, my company is very pet-friendly; we regularly have employees bring in their dogs for visits and my Sr VP brings in her cats on occasion (usually on days for vet visits, etc). One of my co-workers has an adorable Yorkie-Schnauzer mix, about 8 months old. He’s a huge hit at the office, but I have a feeling that he thinks he’s the alpha in the relationship (I’m no dog expert though, just my suspicion). Whenever his “mom” is not within sight, he gets very anxious and starts barking and whining. His barks are loud and very high-pitch… not exactly ideal in an office environment, as casual as we are.

    Anyway, on occasion I will watch the dog for my co-worker if she brings him in and happens to have a meeting or interview. No biggie; I love dogs. Today I thought for some reason, it’d be a great idea to watch him in our Sr VP’s office in the corner (she’s on vacation) – more space and generally quieter.

    Things are going fine, except about 5 minutes in, HE TAKES A POO IN THE OFFICE. I’m thinking, OMG OMG OMG… WHY… WHY HERE… WHY TODAY?! Why did I think this would be a good idea!?

    Needless to say, it started stinking up the office and adjoining hallway. Luckily it was a solid poo, so it didn’t get on the carpet, but wow… that was not the way I wanted my Friday to start.

    1. Lisa

      What is it the size of a tootsie roll? Pick it up and use disinfecting wipes on the floor. If it was a boxer or other large dog then i would be freaked. Ever clean that up when its wet?

    2. Sascha

      Ahhh I’m so sorry! That’s pretty funny though. I’d be freaking out as well. Good thing is was solid! I have an Anatolian Shepherd and if he pooped in my boss’ office…well I’d pretty much need a shovel.

  22. Wheres the line?

    OK. I have a weird question.

    At what point can I ask my Health and Safety guy to stop talking to me? He hovered round my desk to directly ask me to read his emailed safety letter about the new recycling scheme because he noticed a still full plastic bottle on my desk. He wouldn’t go away for 5 minutes.

    He’s also made comments about my ‘special’ or ‘weird’shoes twice – once actually touching them without any warning. I wasn’t in an area at the time that needed safety shoes but he just had to know if they were or not. Both fairly standard pairs of boots but one had a thicker base and the other are a brighter colour.

    I find it really creepy. I’m not quite sure how to bring it up with the boss without sounding whiny or racist (he is of a minority but that has nothing to do with the issues – I’d be just as funny about anyone doing it).

    1. EG

      I’d make mention that you need to focus on work, and keep saying that until he leaves. Maybe also ask if there’s a reason you’re being singled out for Health & Safety today, as you understand the rules and follow them. If he can’t give a reason, go see your manager or HR. Creepy is not a feeling to ignore.

    2. Adam V

      Try to just tell him “sorry, I’m in the middle of something here” and ignore him. If he continues, try “I’m sorry, I really have to get this done” the second time. If he still won’t leave you alone, follow up with “I’m sorry, but I’m not available to talk right now. I really need to get this done, and whenever you come to talk, it distracts me for several minutes before I can get back to work, so I’m going to have to ask you to stop visiting me at my desk”.

      At any point, feel free to bring it up with your boss; bosses are generally receptive to “my employee isn’t going to finish their work unless X happens”, where X in this case is “the other employee stops badgering them”.

      1. Adam V

        Oh, and as for how to talk to the boss, say something like “I’m in the middle of X, but I’m having a bit of a problem. Our OSHA guy keeps coming by to speak to me while I’m working, and nothing I’m saying is dissuading him from hanging out by my desk. I’ve tried X, Y, and Z so far; any other ideas? I’m worried I won’t finish with X at this rate.”

        1. Jessa

          Exactly, parse it in terms of how it impacts work. That should hopefully get them to stop him and if it doesn’t you can then add in how it feels a little creepy that he’s always only singling you out.

          PS OMG kitty picture. How adorable are they.

    3. Elizabeth West

      Have you asked him directly to stop? I bet you a dollar your boss will ask that first. In the case of the hovering, a polite but firm, “Thanks, I’ll read it later; pretty swamped now,” and turning back to your work should give him the hint. If not, then you need to be more direct–“James, I don’t have time to chat now.” “Please don’t touch my shoes. Thank you.”

      If he doesn’t stop, you can say something like, “Boss, I’m uncomfortable with James doing X, and I don’t have time to chitchat when he stops by my desk. I have asked him to stop and he is not stopping. Do you have any suggestions as to the next step?”

    4. evilintraining

      Or just be direct. If he’s making you uncomfortable, tell him: “It makes me really uncomfortable when you touch my feet.” If he’s commenting on filled recyclables on your desk, say, “I’m aware of the policy. Don’t worry; I’ll dispose of it properly. Thanks,” then turn around and go back to your work.

    5. fposte

      In my experience, this isn’t an uncommon scenario–people who’s work doesn’t tie them down to a desk often find the company of somebody who does enjoyable and then become unintentional pests.

      I would 100% support what Elizabeth West says about asking him to stop and, unless your boss is a problem, looping the boss in on this. As a boss, I’ve actually run interference for student workers in situations like this sometimes, since they often don’t have much experience with this, and cheerfully been the bad guy who won’t allow people to visit at their desks when they’re working.

      Unless there’s more that you’re not saying here, though, I don’t think this is a big deal, so you don’t need to treat it like one. He likes you and you don’t like him that way, at least not enough to slack on what you’re getting paid to do. If you’ve been trying to be a nice good listener, stop it; be a nice professional cutter-off of conversation instead.

      1. Wheres the line?

        This is the thing – apart from these few incidents I’ve not had hardly any contact with him and its always been short. We’ve not really interacted much at all in the few months he’s been there.

        Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. They will be taken on board. :)

      1. Elizabeth West

        Ours at Exjob was also. He liked my manager, and she didn’t like him. When he bombed out there, he asked me “So what are you doing this weekend?” I said, “Visiting with my boyfriend.”

        No. Just no.

  23. Sarah

    I’ve been at a new arts nonprofit for 2 months now. Our CEO is also new (been here 3.5 months). The previous CEO passed somewhat unexpectedly (illness that lasted a few months). There is a lot of tension between 2 of the staff members who were running the organization during the interim and the next staff (myself and the CEO). The other staff is really happy to have new ideas and perspectives – and to have some of the control taken away from the other 2 people. From what I can see, it’s sort of a mean girls clique. The CEO is aware of this from his own observation and checks in with me occasionally to be sure I’m okay (because they are outright rude). I’m totally fine, but I want a healthy work environment. Any suggestions?

    1. saro

      Well, are they getting in the way of your projects and initiatives? If not, I’d say just ignore them. Unfortunately, mean girls/boys have been in every job I’ve ever had. The key is whether you have the support to ignore them/deal with them. Has your CEO indicated how she plans to handle it?

      1. Sarah

        The CEO has asked me to give guidance and take on some new projects that are really outside my current job duties because I have experience in them (for example, membership drive). The project directors (one of the mean girls) has typically done the membership drive, but from my observation and experience, not very well. There are certain things that I suggested such as segmenting the list, writing multiple letters for those said lists, and changing the style of writing (membership letters are very particular and not like a general cover letter). In a meeting of the 4 of us, there was so much push back because it would add more work that the CEO eventually just said okay, let’s leave it this year and look at revisions next year. BUT the thing that gets me is that the membership giving was down last year and if they would listen to these suggestions, I could almost guarantee an increase in giving! Then we started talking about program evaluation (I’m the grants director so evaluation is closely linked to my job and the success of my grants), and the other other (deputy director) told us how she essentially doesn’t believe in program evaluation. The CEO and I have other feelings and I’m going to pursue program evaluation anyway because that could directly impact my success. As far as how the CEO plans to handle it, he is slowly implementing change (changing the look and feel of our quarterly newsletter, some new initiatives) because he doesn’t want them to stop being productive in protest.

        1. saro

          That sounds like a VERY frustrating situation. That said, it seems like the CEO is aware and focused on implementing change, albeit slowly. I actually think the slower approach is a good idea and your CEO seems to be quite savvy about the situation. I’ve worked with really great leaders who just couldn’t overcome the office culture because they went too fast.

          I suggest that you watch your back, just in case. From my experience, it’s better to be on the safe side.

  24. saro

    Yay! I’ve been waiting for this thread! How do you deal with professional colleagues who don’t respond to your requests for information but then ask you for information?

    I have a friend/colleague who works in the same field as I do. In my field, there’s alot of informal sharing of information. For example: so and so is starting a new job and you might want to talk to her as there may be overlap with your project.

    This type of interaction is common and encouraged.

    My one colleague (and somewhat friend) consistently ignores my requests for information but has no problem asking me for information. I give her the information she requests because I think it’s professional courtesy. But this last time, I really wanted to tell her off or just ignore her.

    I don’t think confrontation would work as she is defensive and not particularly truthful (“OMG, I never received your email!”) but I’d be willing to try it if anyone has a good way to phrase it.

    What do y’all suggest?

    1. LeeD

      I would probably email back with something like this:

      “Sure, I’m happy to help. Can you give me a call so we can talk about it? Also, while we’re talking I would appreciate it if you can fill me in on Subject X. I had previously emailed you about that, but I imagine it got lost in the shuffle.”

      1. saro

        I did that last time and she answered but ignored the subject x part.

        Do you think I should just ignore her requests in the future? I don’t think it’s professional but I’m so irritated with her behavior.

        She’s emailed me 2 times since then, asking for information, and I’ve given it to her.

        1. LeeD

          Did you do it by phone last time? I think that might be key, because you can suggest that she go first. A phone conversation also lets you say things like, “You never got my email? Hold on, I’m going to re-send it right now while we’re talking. Did you get it?”

          1. saro

            I didn’t do it by phone since she was overseas. However, I can talk to her via skype. I think I will do that in the future, if possible. Thank you.

            1. LeeD

              I would insist on doing it over Skype. She doesn’t need to know why, but if she keeps pushing, you can say, “I might have some questions about Subject X (*your* subject, not hers), and it will be easier to handle them that way.” This will also emphasize that your expecting to handle both topics in the call.

              I would also make her responsible for setting up the call. Give her your general availability and ask her to pick the final time. She’s asking you for a favor. You shouldn’t have to chase her down to schedule a time.

        2. Ellie H.

          Do you think you could try phrasing it in a kind of nicely put “if . . . then” way? Like, “I can definitely get you that Y information, right now I am finalizing/working on/etc. the X project. Before we talk about Y could you please send me the information about X?”

          1. saro

            I tried that over skype (written, not speaking) and it didn’t work. I do think it would be better if we did it over the phone.

    2. Adam V

      You might consider not helping her the next time. Ignore her emails the way she’s been ignoring yours.

      Yes, it’s petty, but if she tries to follow up after you ignore her email, you can respond with “oh, I’m sorry, I haven’t been able to get to that. I think we must both have been so busy recently – I never got a response from you about my last email either. While I look into this, can you respond back to that one?”

      1. saro

        I am SERIOUSLY considering it but struggle because I don’t want to ‘be’ that person, if that makes any sense. What I do now is complain about it endlessly to my husband, which isn’t helpful to anyone.

        I think I need to take my ego out of it and either just accept that this is who she is and either decide to help her or not.

        1. khilde

          I don’t think you’ll necessarily “be” that person if you choose to handle this woman this particular way. What makes someone “be” someone is if they behave that way to people all the time in a variety of circumstances. Sounds like you’re not. Sounds like you are courteous, professional, and prompt with other people (and have been with this woman). I’m a believer in different people need different approaches and this woman has made it clear to you that she will not respond to the professional approach most other reasonable people respond to. So I think you’re “morally” off the hook (if that’s how a person would say it) to take a harder approach with her.

        2. saro

          Yes, I think you grasp my issue with her. I’m so irritated with her and the situation that I really have to take a close look at my actions so I’m not doing something out of pettiness. I’ll also see how I feel the next time I’m in contact with her too.

          1. khilde

            I hear what you’re saying. The high road is a lonely and (initially) unsatisfying place to be. But over time when you realize that you have conducted yourself as professionally and assertively as possible (and strong arming her to get more information I don’t think is out of line. I just don’t have any advice on how to do that, sorry. I struggle with it myself!). But over time when you take the high road and don’t get into pettiness with her, you’ll realize the huge payoff. I think the other suggestions above are smart. “Oh sure, I can certainly get your the info you requested. Have you had a chance to look at the stuff I sent you? What do you think?/When can you get it to me/Where are you at with that?” If she continues to beg off on it, then I suppose I’d take the broken record approach and any further communication with her would include some variation of, “do you have that stuff for me yet?”

            At some point maybe you have to get blunt (easy for me to say, hard for me to do): “Hey, I’ve asked you several times over the last few weeks about X. You haven’t seemed to respond to it and I’m getting to a critical point in my work where I need it. We need to figure out how we can get this information to me.”

            Eh. I don’t know about how I phrase things, but I was going for overall concept.

            And my last thought for just your own personal “okayness” with being tougher with her: It’s taken me a long time to learn this but I finally understand that the people I’m trying to be very nice to that don’t reciprocate probably don’t care that I’m being nice in the first place. Or….I am quite concerned with interpersonal harmony. I want to like people and be liked. But if I am running into someone that is treating me like garbage then I can relieve myself of the burden of trying to be overly nice to them since they don’t understand it anyway. Does that make any sense?

            1. saro

              Yes, I ended up not needing the information (got it from another person) but it was just so frustrating to be repeatedly ignored. I really won’t reach out to her in the future.

        3. FRRibs

          Stress out you and your husband or push for a more equitable information transfer? If you put that on a seesaw and you could put the fulcrum anywhere you wanted along it’s length, at what point would it tip for you?

          “Nice” but non-assertive people get taken advantage of, because they can.

          1. saro

            Yes, you’re right. I’m usually assertive and don’t have a problem getting information I need. This particular situation is odd to me because most people in my network are usually helpful.

            I wasn’t stressing my husband out, probably irritating him with my complaints!

    3. Elizabeth West

      I don’t know; I had this problem at Exjob and never resolved it. The issue was so pervasive it was one of the things that made me want to quit. If any of the other commenters’ suggestions help, I would love to know which ones, in case it happens again.

      I can’t type what I really think of people who do this–it isn’t polite. ;)

    4. Not So NewReader

      Honesty time. I was “that person” once.

      I had to ask a person from another department for emergency help, on numerous occasions. This person said NO, each and every time. It was jaw-dropping. I was left to muddle through the emergencies on my own. I made my best guesses, looked to others for inputs and so on. I would go home shaken and exhausted.

      One day IT happened. I figured out a tough situation on my own.
      This person came to me and said “how did you figure that out?” My answer would be very relevant to her and some of the things she encountered. All I could think of was all the times she told me she would not help me. I said ” After you go through it a few times you start to catch on.” I walked away and left her standing there. If she had been helping me right along she would have seen and learned just like I did. Oh well.

      You may have to go this route. Just tell her no to her face. “You don’t answer me, so I do not have time to answer you.” In my situation this person had refused to help me many, many times. No amount of pleading, begging or going to the bosses was going to make her change. (Yes, the bosses knew that she was refusing to help!)

      1. saro

        Hahaha, wish I was a fly on the wall when you said that to her!

        Part of the problem is that she plays the martyr role so well. “OMG, I can’t believe you’d think I’d ignore you, I’D NEVER ignore you! Blah blah blah!” She tried to blame a major issue on me and completely played the self-righteous victim when I confronted her about it. And while she ignored my multiple emails/skype messages, she was telling another colleague that she’s always in touch with me.

        The more I relate stories about her, the worse she sounds, doesn’t she? I think I just need to let.it.go.

        1. khilde

          Yeah, if you are able to proceed or ultimately get the info from someone else in an easier way, then you are in a good position work-wise. But she’s living rent free in your head and you will feel much better when you are able to let it go. She’s just a yucky person that seems to think it’s ok to deal with people like that. The joke is on her. Just wait – like NotSoNewReader it’ll catch up to her.

          For the martyr role, I wonder what would happen if you were to keep track of the days/time/instances where you asked her for info (documenation, if you will, but I know that makes Alison cringe!). When she tries to play the “I never ignored you!” card, you can say in a pleasant and matter of fact tone, “Well, actually on Sep 1st I initially requested this information. On Sep 4 I followed up via Skype and asked you during our converastion if you had it. Most recently….” She might barrel right on with the martyrdom, in which case I”d just disengage and avoid as much contact with her as possible. Especially if you can get that info a different way.

          1. saro

            I think for my mental well being, I need to just let it all go. My sci-fi novel should take more mental energy than my petty drama with her.

            1. khilde

              Agreed. I have family members that I cannot get out of my head and it makes me angry that I let them get to me. There have been times where I start to dwell on the situation or my feelings about them and I envision a box slamming shut. Like I literally slam the lid shut on that thought and I push it away. It surprisingly is pretty effective for me. I know not everyone’s mind works that way, but if you are good at visualizing things, I’d recommend that.

              1. Windchime

                I will try this method, khilde. I have family members that get inside my head that way, too, and sometimes I just cannot shut it off.

          2. Not So NewReader

            Yep, this is what to do.

            With nice people, I have sent an email saying “Second request” in the subject line. Nice people answer on the second request. Once I had to type in “Third request”.

            I would also at one more thing about being “that person”. If you, OP, plan to resume normal communication with her once she starts answering your questions then you are not compromising yourself. You are simply meeting her on her own turf. You are talking the language she understands. The difference is you are controlling your responses and she is NOT controlling hers.

            In my case, I no longer cared what this woman thought about anything. My emergencies were dire. I cannot describe them here. It was very serious. And she left me there to get through it by myself. I had NO respect for her as a person or a professional. (I was seriously shaken up by the events.)

            I am sure she was bewildered by it all. Hey, if you don’t actively participate in problems/issues you do not learn and so, yeah, it’s going to seem mysterious and bewildering. She left the company after a while. Her replacement eventually started doing the same thing. wth.

  25. Cassie

    Employee morale – who is ultimately responsible? The boss/manager? The employees? A combination of both?

    I’m going to say a combination of both, BUT a larger % of responsibility falls on the manager.

    1. Yup

      Morale is pretty subjective and is a result of multiple factors: individual experiences, group dynamics, culture, environment. So I don’t think you can break it down as a discrete thing where this person is yes/no responsible for it. If I had to give a single answer, I’d say that we’re all responsible for keeping a workplace safe, sane, and generally decent for ourselves and each other.

      Is there a situation in particular that you’re experiencing or witnessing?

      1. Cassie

        I agree that it’s not a discrete thing and we’re all responsible in some way. It’s just that managers or supervisors have greater authority (given their positions), like Mike C. states below, so I feel it’s up to them to improve morale. I mean, I can do my part (be a responsible employee, be inclusive of my coworkers, etc) but I can’t change my coworkers’ behaviors if they are negatively affecting morale.

        The situation I’m thinking about has the manager saying to her boss “we have low morale – I want to throw a party to boost morale”. Instead, I think a good manager would look at the situation, think about ways to get more employee input (like Cindy B mentions), and try to do something. That’s why I feel a larger share of responsibility falls on them.

        1. Yup

          I agree 1000% with your scenario, where a good manager would look at the actual situation to resolve it and thus improve morale. So yes, managers often do have more influence than employees over circumstances the affect it. I still think that a manager’s influence is limited, though: employee morale at my ExJob was a rock bottom during the the recession because we were worried that our industry wouldn’t ever recover and we’d all be out of a job. The only thing that fixed morale was an improved economy, when our work levels picked up again. Also, as periwinkle said below, you always get people who just aren’t happy at work for whatever reason — wrong field, bad fit, lousy attitude, etc. Not much a manager can do for their morale, other than encourage them to change their own situations.

          Just as a worker bee, I like to think that *I* have the most influence over my own morale, because that attitude puts me in the driver’s seat. Sure, my boss is a big part of my work environment. But if I feel like it’s ultimately down to me, that keeps my head right with choosing what to address, let go, or change. You know?

    2. CindyB

      IMO, as role models that employees look to, leaders play a big part as they set the tone of an organisation through their actions and behaviours. However, everyone contributes to the overall culture of the organisation, which may influence morale. Someone’s level of morale or engagement is their response to their environment.

      Research tells us that one of the most influential drivers of employee engagement is feeling a sense of belonging to their org. People are more likely to feel they belong when they believe they have a ‘voice’ (their opinions count, they are involved in decisions that impact them, etc), they feel the company cares about their well-being, and that their contribution is valued. All things that leaders influence.

    3. Mike C.

      Boss/manager, all the way. Not only do they decide all the policies on how a workplace is run, but if an employee is causing issues they are the ones with the power to punish or fire them.

      1. Windchime

        Yep, this. My current boss is the best that I have ever had. He nips negative actions in the bud. When one co-worker was picking on another person, he was on it and stopped it instantly. He frames things in a positive manner, he doesn’t cast blame and he doesn’t blow sunshine. He is realistic yet fair. He’s the first boss that I have ever had that I would consider leaving this company to follow; the guy is that good of a leader.

        I’ve had other supervisors that were very nice people, but who couldn’t manage their way out of a paper sack. Bullying ran rampant and it was hell on earth.

    4. periwinkle

      You are solely responsible for your own morale as an employee, because only you control how you react to your work environment.

      Your boss plays a huge role in creating the work environment to which you’re reacting. The organization is also a major factor in creating that environment. If one or both are crappy, then your reactions (and thus morale) will be negative. A manager can create a positive work environment that everyone else reacts positively to, but then there’s that one miserable lady who just hates it because she wants to backstab her way to success. Her morale will suck because that’s her reaction to the environment created by a manager who reads AAM regularly. :-)

  26. khilde

    I’m so glad it’s open thread!! Because I am destroying my mind trying to remember the reasons why “Wow” as a response to rude, stupid, insane comments is so effective. I know it’s a fan favorite around here, but I can’t remember the reasons it’ s so great. Can someone please help me remember?

    Also! Does anyone have any “go-to” comebacks/responses (professional, obviously) that work for you when you
    — disagree with someone
    — someone is tearing you down or saying snarky things
    — being passive aggressive

    I’m revamping my respectful workplace class to try and include more “go-to” phrases for my participants. I know people that come to class like really solid takeaways like that and I’m not always good at thinking of things. I know this community has awesome collective wisdom. Many thanks!! :)

    1. HAnon

      Hm…well that depends on what context this is happening in.
      – disagree with someone. That would depend on whether or not it’s a personal (politics, for example) or professional (the way a project should be approached) disagreement. Personal: I’d probably just say, “that’s an interesting perspective, I never thought of it that way” and just drop it OR say nothing at all. Professional: I’d make a case for why the particular view I advocated would be in the company’s best interests. I think the main thing is, it’s up to you whether or not you want to say anything if you disagree with someone. I’d just emphasize doing so in a non-hostile way. We can have differing opinions and make our cases logically without tearing people’s character or intellect apart. (And if you disagree with your boss, try to do it in private — not in front of other people where it would look like you’re going against her)

      – someone is tearing you down or saying snarky things.
      Ignore it. Seriously. If it bothers you that much (and I assume that the comments are bad enough to warrant a response, and not just general petty remarks) I’d say “I’m sorry you feel that way” or if someone says “Your hair looks like a dead porcupine today.” say “Thanks!” and walk away. People like that don’t deserve your time or energy.

      -passive aggressive. I do NOT put up with this. It’s a common occurrence in my department, and more than once I’ve seen the beginnings of a passive aggressive email thread start to get going, or heard the beginnings of it in a conversation, and I’ve walked over to the person to address it on the spot. “Hey X, I saw your email/overheard you talking about Y. Would you like to discuss it?” I say this in a non-hostile, but firm, manner. Oftentimes people are passive aggressive because they’re afraid of confrontation, so if you’re the one to be direct and do the confronting, you can usually work out whatever the issue is.

      I know that these responses may not be wise in ALL circumstances, depending on the severity of the issue. But I have worked in an office with some petty, immature people for a few years of my life, and I find that when I let it get to me, it gets much worse. After a couple of months of seeing that I don’t take the bait, people tend to lay off because they know how I’m going to respond based on past experience.

      1. khilde

        HAnon – thanks for your thoughtful comments! The “I never thought of it that way” is my go-to one, too. It just works for me.

        I like your whole paragraph about passive aggressive. “Would you like to discuss it” is great. So, here’s a follow on question then: if the PA person says, “no,” or generally denies there’s a problem (but there most obviously is), do you continue to press or just drop it? I know in the workplace there’s probably a case to be made for pressing it since it could affect business and progress. I’d be curious about personally at what point you stop trying to get the PA to open up. Thanks again for your thoughts!

        1. HAnon

          It depends on what the issue is. If it’s something that I’m concerned will genuinely impede my work and I have tried to get the person to discuss it with me, I might involve my supervisor at that point and just lay it out in a casual way: “I’ve already tried to resolve the issue amicably, but at this point the issue is making it difficult for me to do my job.” or if a PA is criticizing my work performance or method of doing something, I’ve said “If you have an issue with the way I’m handling something, I’d be glad to discuss it with you, or we can discuss it with my Supervisor. Want me to go see if he’s free?” (All real life examples based on one person who I routinely have to “manage” my relationship with because he likes to throw people under the bus.) Most of the time, though, the situation doesn’t warrant involving a third party — at least, from my perspective. I usually shrug it off until it crosses a line for me. As long as I have clarity from my manager on the way I’m supposed to be approaching my work, I try not to let this person’s PA get to me.

          1. HAnon

            I don’t know if that directly answered your question, but most of the time, I feel like I honor directness much more than PA. If you don’t care about the issue enough to tell me to my face, I’m going to pretend it just doesn’t exist (unless it’s causing an issue for ME)

        2. coconutwater

          If there was bullying involved or other harm to the company I would say, “Are you sure?” after they have replied, “No”, to your inquiry as to if they wanted to talk about it. Shining a light on PA/snarkiness, etc. in the workplace consistantly can sometimes nip it in the bud or at least knock it back a bit.

    2. Colette

      Wow is from Carolyn Hax. I think it works because it puts the person on the spot but doesn’t give them anything to argue with.

      Disagree with someone:
      Depends on the situation – I might directly say I disagree, ask for more info about their position, or just let it go, depending on how important/relevant it was.

      Someone is tearing you down:
      Wow, Excuse me, Did I hear you say X? etc.
      If they continue after you directly address it, though, I’d probably bring it up with my manager and ask for advice on how to handle it.

      Passive aggressive:
      The answer to this is the same as any behaviour you don’t want – don’t make it pay. That might mean taking comments literally, or it might mean something else, but the key is to avoid giving in to something that’s not a direct request.

      1. khilde

        Thanks, Colette!! The reasoning for the “Wow” escaped me. But it makes perfect sense.

        I also like what you said about PA behavior and how you don’t want to make it pay.

    3. Mike C.

      If I disagree with someone I present my evidence/data for doing so, give them a chance to respond, back and forth, and then leave it up to the decision maker to make the call.

      But to be perfectly honest, I really, really hate canned responses to difficult situations. It’s not clever anymore if the person doesn’t respond in the expected way and oftentimes they don’t deal with the situation at hand.

      Look, why does your workplace have so many people who are treating each other like crap that your students need a way to deal with these situations?

      1. khilde

        MikeC – I totally understand what you’re saying about canned responses. I taught a customer service class recently whose main point was that scripts don’t work because they are canned and lack authenticity.

        For your last question: It’s kind of weird the way we have training for our organization. I work for state gov’t so we have employees that attend courses from a variety of agencies. I’m like a generic trainer. I don’t work for any of the agencies and we don’t have the resources to get into more detailed levels with supervisors/management to address specific problems through the training route. Managers contact us to provide special request classes for things like staff retreats, conferences, etc.

        When I do classes I have to offer enough generic information to be applicable to employees in hugely different types of work and environments and cultures (within each of the departments/bureau) but specific enough that they feel like it was worth it. I have just observed over time that people really like suggestions on how to say something. Which is why I stalk this website because people often offer up specific phrases for situations, which is helpful to get started. I hope that answered your question.

      2. khilde

        No, actually I didn’t really answer your question. “why does your workplace have so many people who are treating each other like crap ”

        I have no clue. Because adults act like children and it’s good job security for me. ha! And I’m not saying that in a snarky way back to you, either. I’m honestly stratching my head as well saying, ‘good grief.’ I think overall why this kind of immature behavior exists? People have low emotional intelligence, people live in the world of me and aren’t considerate of the impact their behavior has on other people, and unengaged management. Those are the three things I observe anyway.

      1. khilde

        Ok, I was about to reply and say that I loved Data on the Goonies. But now based on Saro’s Data below I’m thinking I was wrong. There’s a Star Trek Data? Is he the really pale guy? {cringing}, sorry I never have watched those shows! eep.

        1. saro

          Yes, he was the pale guy and he didn’t understand sarcasm. It was so helpful when dealing with that co-worker. I even had our HR Director compliment me after one particularly egregious encounter.

        2. Elizabeth West

          Yes, he was an android who kept trying to be human. Think a very awkward and naive Pinocchio, who had superhuman strength and a computer brain. :)

          I like to do that thing he did when someone tells me something I don’t quite get: I move my head a bit and say “Processing….ah.” LOL I am such a Trekkie. :D

    4. saro

      I had one colleague who attempted to tear me down on a regular basis. I always made her repeat it. I’d say, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand your point. Could you repeat/rephrase it?” And then I’d act like Data from Star Trek:TNG. Think, inquisitive look with no emotion. It seemed to make her really uncomfortable and it made me laugh.

  27. Poster formally known as Jane Doe

    I posted last week about quitting my job and taking another shortly after a promotion. You guys helped me through that and I am taking the new job. I am putting in my two weeks after I get back from vacation next week and have been experiencing roller coaster emotions. Alot of the time I am really glad and grateful for my new opportunity, but sometimes I am sad tonkeave a place that at one point felt really promising, and other times scared/nervous that I am making the wrong decision. I am not normally a scared or nervous person. This is all normal, right?

    1. Nodumbunny

      It’s normal (at least for me it is) and be prepared that you may continue to have “buyer’s remorse” for the first couple of weeks after you start your new job. I almost always have a “oh my god, what have I done?!” reaction within the first week or so because there’s a little social anxiety about new people, new routines and because the learning curve can be steep. I’ve learned to ride it out (I’ve only had one job where that feeling never went away. Lasted 8 horrible months there.)

    2. SkateK

      Congratulations on the new job! I think your feelings are totally normal. Change can be scary, but I don’t think you can move forward in your career without doing things that scare you a bit. Good luck!

    3. Jazzy Red

      Congratulations on your new job!

      It’s completely normal to have up and down emotions when changing jobs. Or changing anything big in your life, for that matter. Don’t worry about this. You’ll probably feel it for at least a couple of weeks, while you’re getting used to your new job and coworkers. Focus as much as you can on all the good aspects of your new job. After a while, you’ll start to feel at home there.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Totally normal stuff.
      Why.
      Because it is healthy to question our own decisions, make sure that we are taking proper care of ourselves.
      One could argue that this is a basic skill necessary for survival.
      It is fine to be sad about leaving and it is fine to be nervous about starting the next job. And yeah, you can have both emotions at the same time. Annoying, but true.
      Try to focus on today and what you need to do today. Do your best each day. That will, indeed, help to calm down the transition.

  28. Rebecca

    I decided to start a serious job search, and am finding the topics discussed here to be invaluable. I loved my job, until our company was sold to a larger corporation, and it’s been all downhill from there. I gave it almost 3 years, and it’s clear it’s time to move on. Employee input is neither valued or accepted, there is zero upward mobility, no increases (whether merit or COLA), and every day is a walk through a minefield of avoiding one or another nasty middle manager.

    It’s been 11 years since my last new job start. I’m beginning by making a to do list – update Linked In, get a good haircut :) , find a nice interview outfit, outline my exact skill set, and keeping an eye out for another job. Just having a plan in place is making it bearable to come to work each day.

    I worry about when my manager finds out if I get an interview. The last time I went on a preliminary interview (about a year or so ago), the company called her, and she screamed at me, pacing around like a crazy person. I was actually fearful at one point she was going to hit me.

    I don’t want to tell her I’m looking, that’s a good way to get left go.
    How do I handle this if I get an interview? Ask them not to call my direct manager as she’s a crazy lady and may fire me? UGH!! I have plenty of other people I work with on a daily basis who could shed a lot more light on my work than my manager, who has said to me on more than one occasion, “I have no idea what you just said to me” when she asks me to explain a situation I’m working on.

    1. EG

      Simply state that you don’t want them to contact your current employer, who doesn’t know you are job-searching. No interviewer who is told that should be calling a current employer, for fear of losing a good candidate, not to mention ignoring common sense.

    2. Vicomte

      Make sure to turn off your “activity broadcasts” on LinkedIn, especially if you’re connected to your boss.

  29. Ursula

    I have a question for everyone:

    We have two admins at the front of our office. Every couple of weeks or so, one of them (Admin A) spritzes perfume at her desk. I can smell it in the hall about 3-4 offices away, and while it isn’t a horrible scent, it just isn’t what I want to smell in the office. This is really bothering the other admin and she’s trying to figure out a way to say something to her. The problem is that Admin A does not take things well. Just asking her if she’s followed up on something will elicit an ice-cold attitude for the rest of the day.
    Admin B has asked at times if she just sprayed perfume, and Admin A will just say, “yes, but just a little.” She seems oblivious. Granted, her sense of smell may be off (she’s had some medical issues).
    I am not her manager or anything of the sort. Admin B and I are trying to come up with a way to gently tell her that perfume application needs to be done at home. Any suggestions?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I think you might be over-thinking it and in the quest to find a gentle way to say it might actually make it seem like a bigger deal. How about just, “Hey, would you mind not spraying perfume in the office? The smell can linger.”

    2. Katie the Fed

      Just keep it straightforward. “Hi there. Can you please put on your perfume at home and not re-apply here? It’s really strong when you put it on and is bothering us. Thanks!”

    3. Lucy

      We actually have a ‘no purfume’ rule in the office. One of our department heads has severe allergies and HR put the policy in place for that reason but I have to say it may be the best policy we have!

  30. Professional Lurker

    So today was supposed to be my last day at work before leaving on “permanent maternity leave”. (I like the sound of that better than just ‘quitting my job’.) However another coworker at my tiny company just gave her two week notice and my boss is freaking out and asked if I can stay longer and help out. It’s pretty much just going to be him doing our work after we’re gone.

    I agreed to do what I can (already have plans for my time off) but now I’m regretting it and more stressed out than I have been. Add that to the frustrations I’ve had with people not bothering to learn what I do when it’s been known I’m leaving for months (and I’ve left full documentation but still get asked to do basic stuff instead of learning it themselves.)

    No real question, just… meh.

    1. Adam V

      Try telling him that your maternity leave is looking more busy than you had originally planned – more doctors visits, family coming in from out of town, etc. – and you won’t be able to do much more than you had originally planned. Maybe you could offer to help with the interview process for your coworker’s replacement; some of the early, easier parts – reading resumes that come in, perhaps sitting in on the phone screen – can be done from home.

      1. Anonymous

        You know the scary thing is I don’t think there’s going to be a replacement! We’ve been hemorrhaging people over the years and getting squeezed tighter, which in turn is probably responsible for losing more.

    2. Sarah

      You shouldn’t take on your coworkers’ stress about them not learning it themselves. That’s their fault, not yours and not yours to worry about.

      If you do stay, you should settle on a date when you will leave for good. Otherwise, they will take advantage of you and you’ll be heading to the hospital while still working.

    3. The IT Manager

      Don’t know how soon you’re giving birth which should make the request moot eventually.

      To help buck you up for telling your boss that you rethought his request and cannot work any longer after all, remember you informed your company of your departure long before your co-worker and your time off to prepare for your baby and destress before the birth is just probably more important that working for a few more weeks.

      Remember: “Poor planning on their part does not make the situation an emergency for you.”

      1. periwinkle

        “Poor planning on their part does not make the situation an emergency for you.”

        Just keep repeating that to yourself. The company dug itself into this hole. You are not responsible for their poor planning, your co-workers’ lack of interest in using the documentation you created, or the other co-worker resigning. It is not your responsibility to fix. You documented your processes, it’s up to them to use that documentation (right now it’s so much easier to just ask you instead of making an effort themselves). You gave plenty of notice.

        If your boss pressures you to keep working, tell him no, you cannot. If your co-workers keep leaning on you instead of the documentation, tell them to RTFM.

        You’re going to be busy enough soon with the baby needing constant attention – the alleged adults back at your *former* employer can fend for themselves!

      2. Chinook

        I agree that depending on someone leaving for maternity leave is very short-sighted. It is very possible that you could give birth at anytime (babies are highly unpredictable from the start). Heck, after seeing 2 women start mat (think one going into Labour while trying her replacement), I always view those “last day of work” as flexible.

    4. Mike C.

      IT Manager is right, they should have had you training your replacement long ago.

      Your boss screwed up, and now your boss should pay the price. Best of luck for an uneventful pregnancy!

    5. Aisling

      You might ask the boss if you can help train the others to do the tasks that you have documentation for, while you’re still there. Rather than doing the basic tasks yourself, point them to the documentation, ask them to do it, but let them know you’re available for questions.

      I also think that if they didn’t take it upon themselves to learn the info, knowing you were leaving, that’s their problem – you shouldn’t feel obligated to stay longer because they don’t want to bother with it. That’s an issue for your boss to deal with.

  31. LizNYC

    More resume / cover letter help needed! So my dad, who’s been in the mortgage underwriting business for 30 years, is trying to find FT or PT work in any field. After a lifetime of steady FT underwriting jobs, then spending the last two years bouncing around temp / contractor underwriting positions, he’s (understandably) tired of the grind. My main question: how do I reflect this on his resume. I would argue he’s got many transferable skills (meticulous, detail-oriented, good with numbers, able to understand complex forms) and valuable soft skills (never late for work, takes direction well, has been a manager and instructor when needed). How do I convey these things to a hiring manager when I’m helping him apply for jobs outside of underwriting? Is a line like “After spending my career in mortgage underwriting, I’m ready for a change. I look forward to using my skills in the area of .” Or something like that? He’s not looking to climb an organization, but some place to work for the next 10 years or so until retirement. He’d even be happy being a parks guide of some sort, since his junk brain is perfect for random trivia. Anyway, any suggestions for jumping to another focus, how to address this in a cover letter, and especially how to structure a resume that’s chock full of mortgage-centric jobs, would be greatly appreciated!

    1. saro

      I’m not familiar with the mortgage industry, but I’d suggest limiting the jargon and increasing more explanatory language in the CV itself. I think your wording about wanting to change fields is fine.

      Also, I suggest he look into grant-writing and review. The Foundation Center has branches in many centers and offers free classes on grant writing. Many of the DOD and DOS contractors need people with a good eye for detail and writing skills.

    2. SAK

      I also know nothing about the industry. I do look at a lot of resumes though! On the resume he could add a Summary section at the top that covers his transferable skills. In the cover letter do as you suggest and make it clear that he wants to move to a new industry and make it specific to the job he is applying for.

    3. LizNYC

      Thanks for the feedback! I’ve cut out lots of the jargon. I just worry that some hiring managers will think he wants a really senior position when, really, he just wants a steady 9-5 to show up to.

      Thanks for your help!

  32. Briggs

    My husband interviewed for an internal position on tuesday. The hiring manager specifically asked him to apply when she got word that the position would be created, and reminded him about it again when it was officially posted. From all accounts, the interviews (an HR person, the plant manager, and this lady who is a VP of some kind) went very well. They told him they had another interview on wednesday, and hoped to make a decision that day. They asked if it would be ok to call him at home wednesday night.

    We didn’t get a call wednesday night.

    Yesterday, my husband ran into the plant manager, and asked the status of the position. The plant manager said “there has been a lot of discussion, and we’re trying hard to make it right for you”. WTH does that mean?

    Still not phone call, or rejection letter as of leaving for work today.

    Sigh.

    1. Adam V

      Until they either hire someone else, or they tell him outright that he didn’t get the job, it’s still up in the air. Try not to let it stress you out!

      He might consider what his options are if he doesn’t get the job. Does he want to look for something else? Will he stay at the company regardless? Knowing what you’re going to do is one way to take the news more calmly – I always looked at it as “okay, they did X, I told myself if they did that I’d do Y, so now I’m off to do Y”.

      Yes, applying for a job (even if it’s a promotion at your current company) is stressful. Don’t fret over what you can’t control, and just keep being a model employee in the meantime.

    2. Windchime

      I think I would actually ask them what that means, if it were me. If one of the higher-ups said something like that to me, I would probably reply, “Can you explain what that means?”

      I have a hard time with this kind of vague talk. I prefer straightforward communication, and I usually will just say something like, “Sorry, I’m not sure what you are saying? Can you elaborate?”

  33. Virginian

    For those of you who work in academic libraries (or in academe in general), how long after the closing date do you assume that the employer hasn’t selected you for an interview? I applied for a position in the middle of the summer which had a closing date for the end of the summer (August). I’m on tenterhooks right now.

    1. Liz in a Library

      I’m not in an academic library these days, but…

      It varies a ridiculous amount. When we were hiring, my last library would begin calling people as we received their resumes, so it would be unusual to have to wait until after the closing date. However, many hiring committees don’t work that way. I got an interview call last August for a position that I applied to more than a year earlier (and that had a close date in March IIRC).

      I would continually applying. Don’t give up, but try to move on from this one. If they are just slow on interviewing, then perhaps that will be a pleasant surprise.

    2. LJL

      Since the practices in that area are all over the board, I generally apply and then forget about it (as much as I can). Once i applied for a job in July and got an email the following January asking to schedule the first interview! It’s just the nature of the field, especially in a state-run school… funding can come and go. And, like other fields, they may or may not send a rejection note if you don’t get an interview.

    3. Lindsay

      Immediately.

      I’ve applied for many, many librarian jobs. Once I got a rejection letter in the mail for a job I didn’t remember applying for, because I had applied for it ten months before. I’ve had a couple of interviews, but the calls for that take at LEAST a month or two before they’re made.

      The reason for the timeline is search committees. In my academic library, at least, all hiring is done through committee. Each applicant is scored by a rubric and everything has to be “fair” since this these, at least, are state jobs. There are also a TON of applicants.

      Sorry for the timeline! But assume you didn’t get it and keep applying.

      1. Lindsay

        Also, academic libraries won’t really start reviewing candidates until the posting closes. So that might add on even more time.

    4. Lia

      OMG. It can be months. Seriously. I work in higher ed, and I have served on committees that didn’t even start to interview until 2 months after closing.

      For my current position, I applied in August. A month later, (mid-September), I got a phone interview. 6 weeks after that, I was notified that I qualified for an in-person interview, which was in November. A month later, in December, they offered me the job. Yeah, nerve-wracking.

    5. Jen @ ModernHypatia

      Dittoing the other people – it takes a long time to round people up (and factor on that taking more time at the start of the academic year: there’s lots of random meetings and instruction sessions and so on to work around.)

      If the closing date was the end of August, I’d think end of September might be a point at which a number of places might get as far as phone interviews. (Seriously, getting the whole committee together = complicated. And a lot of universities have very specific requirements about how it’s handled, or who’s on the committee.)

  34. SevenSixOne

    A PSA!

    If someone offers you a food item you don’t want, politely say “no thanks” and get on with your life. No one needs to know about your allergies, dietary restrictions, or miscellaneous food issues unless just being in the same room as one of the ingredients could send you to the ER.

    If you offer someone a food item and they decline it, please accept their “no thanks” and get on with your life. Many people have allergies, dietary restrictions, or miscellaneous food issues that are none of your business.

    This message brought to you by the co-worker who brought cupcakes and the resulting hostage negotiation-like talks from both sides. Yeesh.

      1. SevenSixOne

        Gah, sometimes at parties I carry an abandoned empty beer bottle all night or drink juice from a wine glass just to keep people off my back about the booze.

      2. Felicia

        +1. I dont drink alcohol, and sooo many people don’t accept my no thanks when it comes to booze. They always insist on asking why or asking if i’m sure. I only explain I don’t like any alcholic beverages when they offer me 3 different ones after I refuse the first.

    1. Brett

      Um, I have an uncommon allergy that will just send me home or to the bathroom for the rest of the day instead of the ER. I make sure my coworkers (who do bring in food) know about this, because I didn’t went I first got here. This resulted in one of my coworkers feeling really bad when I suddenly had to sprint to the bathroom just after eating the salad they brought in for the Christmas party.

      1. SevenSixOne

        And it’s totally reasonable to ask if there’s _____ in it and then politely decline if the answer is anything but no.

      2. Colette

        Why would the onus be on them to bring in food you can eat instead of on you to make sure you can eat food before eating it?

        I think it’s fair to say (in my case) “Are there any peppers in this salad?” – and, if so, decline.

        However, it wouldn’t be fair for me to say, “Oh, I can’t eat pepper, so make sure nothing you’re bringing in for tomorrow’s potluck has peppers in it.”

        1. Cat

          I think the point was that you have to disclose your allergy to your co-workers to find out if the salad has something you’re allergic to (okay, technically you don’t, but otherwise you’ll just look picky).

          1. Colette

            But the context of the original comment is that you’re turning down the food. In other words, there’s no need to justify why you’re turning it down, just that you’re not going to take any.

            Although if I had a true allergy (i.e. one that made me stop breathing), I wouldn’t eat any food in a potluck-type situation due to potential cross-contamination.

            1. TL

              Anaphylactic allergy is the term you’re looking for. Just because eating wheat isn’t going to make me die doesn’t mean I don’t have an IgE-mediated immune reaction to it that is rather unpleasant.

              1. Colette

                I knew the word, just couldn’t spell it. Not trying to minimize other immune responses, just acknowledging that there is a difference in urgency/immediate impact.

            2. TL

              It’s an anaphylactic allergy, not a “true” allergy. Just because eating wheat isn’t going to make me die doesn’t mean I don’t have an IgE-mediated immune reaction to it that is rather unpleasant.

            3. Cat

              Okay, but why not say “looks great, but I’m allergic to tomatoes!” You’re not going way TMI and saying “sorry, but tomatoes make me have to spend a lot of time in the bathroom.” It’s just a simple statement of fact. Why would this bother someone?

              1. Colette

                I wouldn’t have a problem with that, but some people go overboard trying to justify why they can’t eat it – and really, all you should have to say is “no, thanks”.

        2. Brett

          When you have an office potlucked with 40-50 people, it can get out of hand quick to try to track down the maker of any given dish and ask them if a certain item is in the food. (Especially in this case, where often people have no ideas. I’ve had plenty of catered lunches where I simply couldn’t eat a single dish and had to go get my own food.)

          I am far better off informing people that I have the allergy before any food is brought in. I don’t expect them to make food without the item, but I would hope they would inform me if I should not eat their food (and my co-workers are careful about informing me).

          If I kept it a secret that I had this allergy in the first place, I think my only option would be to never eat office food, which would be rude in a different way. And really, when you say “Are there any peppers in this salad?”, you are going to get asked why you are asking.

          1. Colette

            I don’t think you have to keep an allergy secret – but I also don’t think you have to justify why you’re not eating something.

            In a potluck/catered lunch situation, I’m always prepared to either bring my own food (or a dish I can make a meal of) or buy something else, and I would expect anyone with specific food requirements to do the same. (So let’s see, Joe is gluten free, Jane is vegetarian, Sam doesn’t eat chicken, the only meet Sara eats is chicken, Lisa is allergic to shellfish, and Colette can’t eat peppers. So that leaves … um …..)

    2. littlemoose

      As someone with celiac disease and who doesn’t drink alcohol, I heartily second this. Please accept a polite refusal and leave it at that.

      1. Jenna

        As another Celiac, I sympathize.

        Gluten is a sneaky ingredient. It’s found in so many things that you wouldn’t expect, or won’t discover in someone’s prized family recipe without some sleuthing. Most people don’t think about Velveeta or many ranch dressings having food starch in them( food starch may or may not be wheat based, depending on what is cheapest that month. It’s roulette!). Soy sauce often has wheat. Beef broth is very rarely safe. People use just a touch of Wondra to help brown a roast and then don’t mention it as an ingredient.
        I don’t fall over if I end up eating gluten, but, it damages me and I do feel pretty miserable for a while. Potlucks are not safe. Donuts are poison. That cheese dip for the nachos? Also poison if it has food starch. I absolutely just say, “No, thank you” if I even suspect there might be something dangerous for me. Sometimes people push, and then they do get the explanation, but, I figure they asked for it.

        1. SevenSixOne

          Soy is everywhere too– my soy-intolerant friend pretty much can’t eat anything he didn’t prepare himself.

    3. Claire MKE

      I dunno, I generally see someone mentioning an allergy/restriction as a way to soften the rejection. Instead of “NO, I don’t want the thing you made!” it’s “Oh, I would, but X” It’s not necessary, but it doesn’t bother me. But when I bring food, I just leave it in the kitchen and send out a “Treats!” email, so I’m not party to much food drama.

    4. SAK

      As someone who is extremely picky I am so on board with this. I am unable to count the number of times I’ve said ‘No, thanks’ when offered something only to get a dissertation on why I should try a bite because I’ll really like it.

      I don’t understand why it offends people if you don’t want to eat what they have cooked. I am not offended if someone declines my world famous chocolate chip cookies or potato salad. It’s tempting to lie and say I have a food allergy but that is unfair to people who actually do.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I eat a limited diet, myself. I think people read refusing food as “You don’t love me”.
        What a leap in logic that is.

    5. Windchime

      Thank you for this. Here is how a recent conversation went when I was at someone’s house for dinner:

      Host: “Would you like more? There is plenty left!”
      Me: “Oh, no thanks…it was great, but I’m stuffed.”
      Host: “Are you sure? There is a lot more left.”
      Me: “No, but thanks!”
      Host (after a few minutes): “There’s more salad, would you like some?”
      Me: “STOP ASKING ME, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!” (OK, I’m making that last part up but sheesh!)

    1. Windchime

      Alison–is it because I said I would adopt her if I didn’t already have a cat? Seriously, she is so pretty. Have you decided on a name yet?

  35. Mints

    This is mostly just venting, but it annoys me to no end when my manager makes a mistake or misses something, and blames it on me to external people. (I’m an admin)
    Example: There was a dinner we were hosting, and I had a list of people to invite on behalf of the company. I was doing a mail merge so the wording was all standard. There were a few the manager told me not to include, because they were personal friends, and he would email then himself. Then a couple weeks later, he’s following up on his friends who haven’t responded, and two write back saying they never received the invite. Manager says “Oh Mints our admin should have sent it about a week ago. Here’s the info.” I did not make that mistake!
    A couple other times someone made a mistake, and wanted to slide out of it using “admin error” they talked to me in person and there was a sense of “Could you email this person with the mistake wink wink very sorry”
    At least acknowledge whose mistake it was.
    This is where my disclaimer goes that I might be overreacting because I dislike him in general.

    1. SkateK

      When I was an admin I used to cover for the bosses who respected me and treated me right. I had no problem helping them out.

      I would get so angry at the bosses who were mean or bad at their jobs and blamed it on me – I’m sorry you are going through this! So aggravating!

    2. HAnon

      I have to eat humble pie ALL THE TIME for things that I have no responsibility for because I’m in a client-facing position, and it sounds nasty to blame it on someone else (plus I don’t want to give them the perception that our company is unprofessional, even though it is). Most bosses that I’ve worked for (actually all of them) have a hard time ‘fessing up, so you kinda just have to suck it up and remember that if you make them look good, it’s more likely that they’ll remember you when it comes time to make a case for getting a raise/promotion/etc. Shouldn’t be that way, probably, but that’s the way it is. So I try not to let it get under my skin too much (some days I am more successful at this than others!)., and look forward to the day when I will move into a position where I’m working under a boss who is a good manager (or maybe even the manager myself!)

      1. A Bug!

        There’s a difference there, though. When you’re customer-facing, you’re not saying you’re personally accountable for the error, you’re just acknowledging that the error was made and that it was made by your company. No reasonable person would interpret that as a personal admission of error on your part; you’re representing the company when you say it.

        With the manager above, it’s a pretty different story. The manager was specifically distancing himself from the error by blaming it on the admin personally, even though it was the result of his own explicit instructions. That’s just slimy.

        (By the way, as a legal assistant, that’s one of the criteria I use for assessing whether a lawyer’s going to be hell to work for. If they throw their assistants under the bus to other people, that’s a huge, huge red flag, for several reasons.)

        1. periwinkle

          I use that criteria beyond the office; throw someone else under the bus for your error, and I’m out of there. We had talked with a car dealership about an upcoming model with very limited initial availability. We put down a $1000 deposit to reserve one and then… crickets. The release date and final official specs weren’t available yet, and we only learned about them through the media. Not a word from our dealership. I emailed the sales manager three times to get updates, with no response. We were fed up with this and contacted him to get a refund issued for our deposit. Oh, suddenly we heard back from him! Golly, we kept sending you emails with updates and you never got them? Well, you know, it must have been those stupid nerds in IT that miraculously lost multiple responses to you. You know what they’re like.

          Yes we do, actually. I’m a former IT specialist and my husband is a corporate system administrator. We know how email systems work. (we got our deposit back and had a jolly good time filling out the dealer satisfaction survey sent by the car’s manufacturer)

    3. junipergreen

      Argh. I wonder if when your manager said he’d email his friends himself, it was really code for “Remind me to email them later.”

      Better check your job description for “mind reading” ;)

  36. De Minimis

    My workplace is unionized, and I am a non-exempt employee who works in the same department as my facility’s management. The local union rep would like me to serve on a labor relations board which I assume would include my direct supervisors as the representatives of management.

    I’m very pro-union, and like the idea of serving and becoming more involved, but I also plan to eventually move up in my agency and am worried that this type of involvement might hamper my career if I work on behalf of the employees against the people who most likely would be the ones I would go to for references or help when it is time for me to move on.

    I think in writing this I more or less know what I want to do [not serve on the board] but would still like to hear the opinions of others. I don’t know for certain how it is here, but I worked at a unionized workplace in the past and the relationship between union and management was acrimonious to say the least.

    1. Mike C.

      I think it would help you a great deal to be honest. Having those connections even after you transition into management are great things to have when issues come up.

      The thing here is that the relationship between management and labor should be one of mutual benefit. You won’t always see eye to eye on every issue, but by having a direct understanding of the needs, desires and concerns of labor, you’ll be a much, much better manager.

      Best of luck!

    2. Not So NewReader

      Think of yourself as a bridge.

      You have an understanding of how unions think and work.
      You will have more and more insight into management issues.

      How can you guide things so that both sides get a piece of the pie, they both have wins?

      If you are pro-union to the point of being anti-management then your answer is “you can’t”. It is fine to be pro-union. It is not fine to be anti-management when you are in management.

      1. De Minimis

        My situation is odd in that I have almost no work relationship with the vast majority of the union employees here since I work in administration. That’s one reason I’m not sure if I would have a good perspective anyway, since I don’t really have any first-hand knowledge of the working conditions outside my office. I have a way better understanding of the management perspective. I guess that is another concern, I don’t know how effective I would be since I don’t work alongside most of the membership and don’t really know what their concerns are. It’s kind of an odd workplace anyway, it’s healthcare but it’s Federal so almost everyone is bargaining unit with the exception of a few people–even most of the doctors and dentists are considered bargaining unit.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Start by reading their union hand book cover-to-cover.

          Next learn who the union reps are and who is the head union rep for the entire bargaining unit.

          (Oh yeah, check to make sure they all belong to the same union. If no, then you need to do each step for each union.)

          Be aware that some bargaining agreements do not allow management to talk about unions with union members.
          If this is the case you have then focus on discussing the work itself. Which is really the point anyway.

          And learn background stuff about the history of unions. If you know the history it will be easy to figure out why unions do X not Y, etc. I have met union people who do not know union history and uh… it’s embarrassing.

          The last union I belonged to required a day’s pay EACH month for union dues. (That is one issue. Wait. I have ten more.)
          I am saying this because there is a chance that your people HATE their own union. Be prepared for that answer, too.

  37. SkateK

    I was just asked by my boss to lead a new project which is now being handled by a four person team and not going so well. It’ll be 12-15 months of work. It’s in addition to what I currently work on (which takes up all my time!!) To help out I will get to supervise two additional staff who I can assign to work on various things. Both currently make either the same or more than me. Right now I supervise an intern.

    I mentioned to my boss I’d like to talk about my position some more (I think this increase in work should be recognized with a title/salary change. There will be other projects to follow.) He seemed to not be so open to that idea, mentioning that if another big initiative moves forward, then it would provide an opportunity to look at the issue.

    I’m supposed to come up with a plan for the project to go over next week and take on the new responsibility in the next few weeks.

    How can I make my case for the raise/title change? I’m already paid less than my counterparts who don’t supervise anyone. I’m frustrated that this assignment puts me into a managerial position without the compensation.

    1. Wilton Businessman

      You don’t get a promotion for what you are about to do, you get a promotion for the fine job you’ve done.

      1. SkateK

        Good point. I guess I’m feeling po’d because my last raise was reduced due to internal policies beyond my boss’s control. And the colleagues I work with make at least 10% more, have same years of experience and less responsibility – currently. SO I feel like I’m accepting more work with a discrepancy already in place.

        Writing this, I know I sound like sour grapes! Just feel like if I don’t ask for more, I will continue to get more tasks (because I’m good at my job!) without salary increases.

        1. Wilton Businessman

          The 12-15 months down the road when the project is complete and you are a star, you are in a very good negotiating position.

  38. Goofy posture

    Anyone have any advice for totally overhauling your physical habits?

    Poor chairs + short legs + freezing A/C + lifelong habits mean I always curl up in my desk chair and can’t ever seem to keep both feet on the floor for more than a few minutes at a time.

    So far I’ve only worked in offices where upper management is absent and it hasn’t negatively impacted me, but I’m looking to switch jobs and know this gives off a highly unprofessional impression. (I can manage through interviews and meetings – but not a full day of being absorbed in computer work.)

    1. A Bug!

      I sympathize; I’ve got a similar situation and when I can get away with it I totally kick my shoes off and sit cross-legged at my desk.

      That said, a footstool can really help keep a normal posture. Your chair is probably not low enough for your feet to sit comfortably on the ground, because most desks are not designed to sit at that height. If you can get a footstool with an adjustable angle (so your feet aren’t sitting flat), you can find a position that is most comfortable for you.

    2. HAnon

      buy a very quiet, fire-marshall approved personal heater (the ceramic kind), or keep a blanket at your desk to cover your legs. I have a freezing cold office and I alternate using both of these items :)

      1. Windchime

        I’ve worked in freezing offices before and my current one won’t let us have even a fire-marshall approved heater under our desks. I did see some nifty heated lap throws the other day that would be really cozy. Also, I second the idea of an adjustable footstool.

    3. Emily

      Someone gave me a footrest she wasn’t using, and it’s been a lifesaver- I also scrunch up at work, and the footrest has made it much more comfortable to sit at a desk.

      1. Chinook

        I second a foot rest. I am 5’6″ but still need one because I have short legs (I sometimes have to have the Office Manager see me at my desk to verify the need). It also helps to have a chair you can modify the back, seat, height, etc. and have someone else help you while you sit in the chair because they can see how your back and knees line up better than you.

    4. Xay

      I had a cubicle mate with the same problem. Her solution: warm fuzzy socks for the office. They were easy to slip off for meetings and kept her feet warm at her desk.

      1. fposte

        And if you keep pulling those legs up because the height makes it uncomfortable for them to stretch to the ground, be careful–the bodily stress of trying to keep them on the floor can be really bad for your back. And that is why I now officially work with my foot tucked under me all the time since my back surgery, but fortunately I’m an academic so nobody minds.

        In short–absolutely get that foot rest.

  39. Katie the Fed

    I need some advice on keeping my composure and not getting frazzled/overly emotional/animated in group discussions that get contentious. It’s been mentioned to me a few times – when people are talking over each other and arguments are getting heated I get frazzled, frustrated and it’s clear in my voice and my animation when talking. I apparently gesture a lot (which I don’t even realize) and just look like I’ve lost my mind.

    I’m really an introvert and those situations stress me out to no end, but how do I get a handle on it so I don’t look unprofessional in those environments.

    1. Elizabeth West

      Deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth, slowly and quietly. Pretend you are blowing out a candle in the corner (though obviously, don’t blow all over your coworkers). Say to yourself, “In flows rest; out flows tension.”

      Do it as the argument is ramping up, and before you chime in. Or do it before you go into the meeting–I imagine if these stress you out, you are anticipating some of the squabbling, which is probably making you nervous before you even go in there.

      This breathing exercise forces your body to calm down and your heart rate to slow. It works great for anxiety reactions, and I’ve even used it for pain when waiting for an NSAID to kick in.

      1. Natalie

        The best tattoo artist I’ve ever had recommends this for getting tattooed. Taking anything that thins the blood isn’t recommended during a tattoo, obviously, and you can’t consent to one if you are impaired in any way so (hopefully) you are getting it painkiller free.

      2. Diane

        I first read “deep breaths” as “death threats.” Effective in the short term, but probably not the answer you were looking for . . .

    2. Not So NewReader

      1)Stick to facts. Facts are not loaded with emotions.
      Listen for facts/truths.
      Each side of any argument will have good solid points. Deal only with facts and decide not to be swayed by emotionally loaded arguments. This takes practice. (I am still learning.)
      2) Figure out the goal. What goal do we need to reach, how can we get there? This means thinking about action plans- step 1, step 2, step 3…
      3) We don’t have to agree with each other. We do have to have an understanding of WHY a person thinks the way they do. I find that if I spend some time figuring out why a person thinks a particular way it really helps to defuse my excess energy. I usually learn something. Maybe in the end, the solution is not what the other person wants but at least they know that I understand where they are coming from.
      4) Always check to see if you are missing tiny but important pieces of information. Perhaps the person arguing with you is missing a key piece of info that you have. Ask questions- not snarky- but real questions.
      5) Be patient with you. It takes time to get this stuff.
      I am sure others will have more ideas…

    3. Natalie

      I’m not sure how well this works in groups, but one-on-one I use something recommended by my old couples therapist – slow it down. This is actually still working for me and my ex as we disentangle all of our stuff/insurance/bills/etc

      Breathe slowly and in a controlled fashion, as Elizabeth West suggested. When you speak, keep a measured, low tone. Try your best to keep your thoughts placid.

      1. Katie the Fed

        So here’s the problem – when it’s a one-on-one talk, I can do that fine. But in groups when everyone is jumping in to talk and interrupting each other, that’s when I get really frazzled and lose it.

        1. Natalie

          Are these conversations where you need to jump in, like you’re running the meeting and need to get everyone back on track? Or do you just have the urge to participate but don’t strictly have to.

          1. Katie the Fed

            no – ones where I’m a participant. I don’t HAVE to but sometimes I need to make sure my contribution is heard.

            1. Not So NewReader

              Who the heck is monitoring the discussion???
              wow.
              I think I would see if there can be an agreed upon monitor that would direct conversation and say who has the floor next.
              This is the core problem- everyone is yelling because everyone feels they cannot be heard. People who feel that they are being listened to do not yell.
              This isn’t a meeting- it’s a pie throwing contest.

              1. Katie the Fed

                Yeah. This actually mostly stems from a big leadership meeting we had last week. I got talked to about getting too frustrated and emotional. But I did point out that there should have been a moderator because the discussion was way out of hand.

                1. Not So NewReader

                  I am thinking that you have no control over how the meeting is set up- except to try to persuade the bosses to build in some controls.
                  Do TPTB understand that they had a MOB not a meeting?
                  In an odd way, it is good that you got spoken to because that opens the door for further convos as to how the meeting is conducted.
                  You can go back into the conversation on a different day and ask the boss how this meeting time will be made more productive.
                  What is the point of the meetings in the first place? What does the boss hope will come out of the meetings?
                  What is the agenda for the next meeting? Who is allow to speak and for how long? Will decisions be made by the group? If yes, then how- by formal vote or just general agreement?
                  How about setting a start time and a finish time?
                  We all need structure. In the absence of structure, pie throwing contests occur. Use your reprimand as in-road to push for further refinements to the meetings.
                  As for you personally, I am less concerned than I was when I first read your post. We all can learn something about retaining composure. I think that probably you are not that much different than the rest of us. The boss just spoke to you because you are a supervisor yourself.

    4. fposte

      Is there somebody whose discussion voice and demeanor you like and can try to copy? That’s how I try to pace myself in giving conference papers–there’s a video essayist whose cadence I try to keep in my head. I find it easier to try to do Y rather than to try to avoid doing X.

  40. anonymouse

    How do you know when it is time to bail, or when you can ride it out? I like working for the company I work for, but earlier this summer they let go of over a thousand people – about 10% from my work location. (this is a multinational company) last month one of our divisions (not mine) was given a week long furlough. On the one hand the economy isn’t great and it could just be a bump on the road, on the other hand I don’t want to go down with the ship either. But I can’t tell which it is!

    1. Jazzy Red

      I suggest you begin a job search now. It could take months to find something appropriate, and in the meantime you could be let go, too. This will also help you gauge how the job market is for you right now and if any jobs out there would really interest you.

      If the ship starts sinking, there will be more clues, and you don’t have to stay unless you can’t find another job. Keep your eyes and ears open, and be ready to move when you can.

    2. SAK

      Agree with Jazzy Red that starting a job search is a good idea. You don’t have to apply for just any old job you find but you can get your resume, references, etc. in order and see what’s out there.

      Is your company offering severance packages and do you know how good they are? That might help you decide if you can hang in there until the end, if it does come, or if you want to get out in advance.

      1. anonymouse

        Right now the severance packages are good, but if the ship goes down who knows. But I will get my resume in order – I have a specialized set of skills so I think it is also time to expand what I am doing.

  41. Ali

    Any freelance writers here? I would like to make some extra money (no I am not desperately poor or in any dire straits), and I have a solid writing/editing background, but I’d like to do some copywriting. I’ve mostly done journalistic news/features stuff, but journalism jobs aren’t exactly abundant and copywriting has always intrigued me. However, I’m not ready to give up my current job, where I have it pretty darned good, to be a full-time freelancer. I mostly just need help figuring out ways to build my portfolio or if I can use some of my existing writing samples to submit to clients. Should I start out for free first or just look for lower paying gigs? I’m thinking of building a website as a good first step. Where else can I go?

    Please…no spam replies! I just need some decent advice from someone who knows better than me. Haha.

    1. HAnon

      I was freelance writer before I was hired on full-time (for a different role at current company) and one of the things I started doing was maintaining a blog. I would post at least once a week on a topic that interested me (I was mainly writing recipes or DIY projects, but it gave me a chance to work on my skills, and it’s great to have something current to show prospective clients).

      (sorry I posted twice — I think I clicked the wrong “reply” button!)

  42. just wondering

    has there ever been a poll of what jobs everyone has? I’m really curious to know what everyone does!

    I’m a freelance marketer, though looking for a staff job (how I found this site)

    1. Elizabeth West

      I was a receptionist in various companies, but now I’m a departmental admin for a technology services company. (Well, I’m a receptionist again for an hour a week!) I keep track of revenue billing and edit/assemble consultant reports. I’m going to school at the mo for tech writing, which directly relates to this job.

      In my off-hours, I write novels, which I hope someday will be huge sellers so I can work at home all the time under a blanket with a kitty on my lap. :)

      1. Ali

        Editor for a website and some writing on the side…just trying to figure out how to make money from the latter! I also have my Zumba instructor license, but sadly, it’s looking likely that I’ll never be able to use that.

        1. AP

          Is it me, or is the Zumba instructor market oversaturated? I went from vaguely knowing what zumba was, to having about 6 friends on facebook start teaching it, in about 3 months.

          1. Ali

            It is! I do not regret my training day at all (it was a new experience and I made friends with two great girls), but I’m not sure it’s going to end up working out for me. There’s really no jobs for it around here and I’ve been called to sub a whopping one time.

    2. AP

      I produce documentary films and commercials, but I love reading this because my whole industry is so wildly atypical and I love hearing stories from “normal” offices!

    3. Claire MKE

      I’m an editorial assistant for a hobby magazine and a marketing assistant for a DMO. Double your jobs, double your fun!

    4. Marie

      I’m an HR coordinator in a food manufacturing plant (vegeterian) we are in Canada and the US, based in Quebec

    5. Chinook

      I am a certified teacher and an “accidental office worker” due to the job market. I currently work for a pipeline company in their integrity department (not the expansion – so no hate mail) as a contract assistance to.

  43. junipergreen

    Later this month, I’ll be representing my company (along with our recruiter) at a career fair at my alma mater. In my time as a student, I attended several panels and networking events, but never a large scale career fair. I have a great relationship with my employer, and enjoy chatting with other young alumni about their job searches, but am curious if anyone has any advice about working at the booth. Should I expect attendees to come with resumes and cover letters in hand? Should they have done their research about the companies represented, or simply use the fair to browse various companies?

    1. Annie

      When I went to the engineering career fair, I had a few companies that I picked out and researched ahead of time, or just knew a lot about because they gave lots of presentations. For others, I went and talked to the representatives to find out some more basic information. Depending on the size of your company, I would expect a mix of both. I always brought copies of my resume, but never had a cover letter. FWIW, my school’s career fair was a gigantic, 2 day affair, with companies all over the whole engineering campus. Some companies like Google and Shell had really long lines to talk to representatives, while others didn’t.

      I also used career fairs to stock up on company swag, like pens, pencils, and toys. If you have really cool swag, people will sometimes just come up and grab some.

    2. Sydney Bristow

      I represented my old company with a colleague at a college career fair once. I think maybe 5 people brought their resumes and a ton of people were wearing sweatpants and just didn’t seem to care about anything. This was back in 2005 when the economy was different so that may have changed.

      The crazy thing was that I had been hired for that job after going to my school’s career fair. I had researched the companies I wanted to talk to, dressed up, and brought copies of my résumé. I’m thinking I was one of the few people who even tried so that is how I got an interview in the first place.

  44. HAnon

    I was freelance writer before I was hired on full-time (for a different role at current company) and one of the things I started doing was maintaining a blog. I would post at least once a week on a topic that interested me (I was mainly writing recipes or DIY projects, but it gave me a chance to work on my skills, and it’s great to have something current to show prospective clients).

  45. 22dncr

    Seesh – on the Foster Kitten – Of COURSE you’re adopting her! You don’t think all that cuteness was for naught?! She had you wrapped around her paw from day one. Bet she’s worth it though.

  46. Esra

    Something I’ve been waiting to say in an open thread for a while, but I quit my job today! I start my shiny new job next month. Goodbye micromanagement, hello dental plan.

  47. Lucy

    I have one. I’m going to present a solution to my boss’ boss in about an hour and a half, and I’m nervous. We have a pretty comfortable relationship and I’m not normally nervous to talk with him. I’m presenting a plan that I think is going to improve productivity, and right now I’m looking for feedback instead of approval. Any advice for how to handle my super vague situation? :)

  48. LV

    My contribution to today’s open thread is a little rant. I am going to Montreal Comiccon this weekend. I’m not much of a convention person – in fact, I’ve never been to a con before – but I realized I absolutely had to go to this one when I heard that some of the cast of Battlestar Galactica would be there. It’s my favorite show ever, by a long shot (that Portlandia sketch wasn’t too far off… unfortunately).

    Then a few days ago I found out that out of the 5 cast members who were supposed to attend, two canceled. They were replaced by two others… and then another one from the original 5 canceled too! I’m really bummed out by this. I was SO excited to meet Katee Sackhoff, because I absolutely love the character of Starbuck and how she played her, and now that’s not going to happen.

    I’d put together a nice little President Roslin cosplay and I was so enthusiastic and over the moon to go, and now I just feel like a deflated balloon. Bleh!

    The fact that the weather here has been really crappy (unusually cold, rain almost every day) doesn’t help!

      1. Elizabeth West

        Aaarrrrghhhhh, I missed a con three hours away in April, where Wil Wheaton, George Takei, and Adam Baldwin were all scheduled to appear. I had just started my job and did not have anywhere CLOSE to the funds to drive up there. I consoled myself with the thought, “Maybe they’ll cancel.”

        Guess I’ll have to be happy with Tinycon in my city. We never get anyone super famous, but the writers that show up every year are a great bunch. One of them is critiquing one of my books right now!! :)

    1. Felicia

      All the people I want to see at the Toronto comic con (fan expo) always cancel at the last minute! This year Lena Headey was supposed to come, and then she cancelled at the last minute. Then last year basically all the stars of True Blood that were supposed to come didn’t show up. It sucks wen the one you want to fangirl or fanboy about cancels.

  49. Amanda

    I applied for a job weeks ago, and have been through 2 rounds of interviews thus far – the last being over 2 weeks ago now. Tired of waiting, I called the HR dept and learned that the postion has not yet been filled (yay!). Yesterday, they called me asking if I was still interested (I am). Then they my references and scheduled a meeting with me for Monday.

    I know this is a GREAT sign but I’m wondering – are they going to offer me the job in this meeting on Monday? Or what should I be expecting? (I asked if I needed to bring or prepare anything and they said no.)

    Thanks!

    1. Wilton Businessman

      They might offer you the job on the spot, or it might be the beginning phases of negotiation. Be prepared for either (ie. know your worth, be brave enough to say no if your situation allows it, get all your questions answered, etc.)

      Then again, it might just be the third round of interviews.

  50. HappilyTransitioning

    So I have a question for the group! This week was my 2yr anniversary at my current job – a non-profit that has some major organizational issues and has been wavering between shutting down/reorganizing its mission and value since I joined.

    I just got an offer to join a more established organization which would be a better fit – shorter commute, shorter workday, better work/cause I care about, better career opportunities down the road, I’d work in an office instead of a cube, etc.

    That said, the offer is $2k less than my base salary and $5k less than my real salary (all my benefits are on top of my salary). When he offered the salary, he said, “We’re in a fundraising cycle right now, so we’re offering X, and potentially more in January if the grants come through.”

    I thought about saying that “That’s actually a little less than I’m making now, do you have any flexibility on salary? I’m making Y + Z in benefits.” But he struck me as a straight shooter and seemed open to letting me give 4wks of notice. So I didn’t say anything on the phone.

    Assuming I can afford it, should I take the job as is? Or should I call him back and ask the above? If so, do I wait to call until Monday or call this afternoon on his cell? Or could I email him? AHHHH SO EXCITED/SCARED NOT SURE WHAT TO DO

    1. Wilton Businessman

      Depends. Will $2k/$5k make a difference to you?

      In other words, can you maintain your lifestyle on $40/week less? For example, maybe you just got a raise and you haven’t put the money into your spending yet. Or perhaps you’re saving $40/wk in commuting costs to the new place.

      You’ve got to reconcile the money side of it, but it certainly sounds like a better opportunity.

      Call him, Monday at the latest.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Less hours?
      Perhaps you can take a part time job to make up the loss?
      It sounds like a good deal to me, but that’s just me.

    3. Natalie

      Are you really risking anything by asking for more? My sense is that it’s quite rare for an employer to freak out at a candidate for negotiating. Plus, someone who blows up or pulls your offer due to totally normal behavior is Super Crazy and you probably wouldn’t want to work for them anyway.

      If I were you, I’d ask if they have any flex. And if they don’t, take the job anyway if you can afford to live on what they’re offering.

      1. HappilyTransitioning

        Thanks, I appreciate it! That’s is primarily what I’m worried about – that it will make the awesome job go away.

        1. Esra

          I think Natalie makes a good point, if they’re the kind of crazy that an attempt to negotiate would scare them off, they’re less awesome than they appear.

  51. Kay

    I’d love to hear people’s opinion about a job offer I just received. It’s at a law office and they sent me over this very long contract. In one of the parts they go through saying a lot of vague reasons that you could be fired for (making a client or potential client unhappy) and then go on to say that you will charged 25,000 dollars as renumeration for it. They also mention that if you have any issues at work during the performance evalation they will cut your pay by 8%. Does this sound sketchy or have I been spoiled by the non-profit world?

    1. Lindsay

      Wow. You should canvas others that work in law offices. Or at least maybe consult an employment lawyer…? It sounds sketchy to me as someone that works outside of your field.

    2. Calla

      That sounds pretty sketchy to me, especially if it’s for a support staff position (not assuming it is). The list of reasons you could be fired — whatever. But a set fine for it? That’s weird.

      (Disclaimer: I’ve only worked in small law firms but by your use of “office” vs. “firm” I’m assuming it’s a smaller one too.)

    3. LizNYC

      I’d post this question on Corporette, since there are many lawyers who lurk there and could offer you guidance on whether this is standard practice.

      But woah.

    4. Elizabeth West

      You know what bothers me about this, aside from the $25,000 fee, which no freaking admin on EARTH could afford? How vague the language is regarding what you can be fired for.

      My bullshit detector says run…run like the wind.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, really. That wording is just too vague. Technically speaking every person on the planet is a potential client. drrrr.

    5. Sascha

      I don’t have much experience outside my field (higher education) but that sounds crazy. Isn’t being fired punishment enough? I wouldn’t take it.

    6. Colette

      Are you willing to pay $25,000 if they decide to fire you?

      I assume you’re not, and thus you shouldn’t agree to that. I don’t know if it’s the norm in that industry, but I wouldn’t be willing to live with that kind of risk.

    7. Kay

      Thanks everyone. Its for a recruiting position and I really don’t know what to make of it. I spoke to the HR person and she explained that it was to prevent corporate espionage, but I’m still nervous. I mean…I don’t have 25k that I can spend if a client decides they don’t like my hairstyle. o_O

    8. Cat

      No, that’s not normal. I also don’t think it’s likely to be a legally enforceable contract, because contracts that set penalties that aren’t linked to actual damages usually aren’t enforceable, but that’s an off-the-cuff reaction not a legal opinion.

      Regardless, it’s sketchy and you shouldn’t take the job. Run.

    9. Littlemoose

      I’ve never heard of anything like this either. I imagine that it is some kind of liquidated damages, which specifies what the damages will be if a contract is breached. For the liquidated damages to be applicable, one of the specific elements of the contract must be breached. That said, I strongly recommend that you have your own lawyer take a look at this contract before signing it.

      Also, even if the 8% pay cut is agreed upon, it still sounds really crappy and unfair. I think these provisions sound like some red flags, and you should evaluate everything else you’ve seen in the hiring process in deciding whether this is a job you want. That said, I totally understand that turning down a job offer is a luxury, and if you take it then just be sure to keep your eyes open. And again, get the contract reviewed if at all possible.

      1. Littlemoose

        And yes, if the terms outlining what would constitute a breach that would trigger the applicability of the liquidated damages are vague and/or subjective, then that sounds like very serious red flag.

      2. Kay

        Thanks Littlemoose, that was the language the contract used. I was mostly nervous because they seemed to leave a lot of doors open as to what broke the contract. Like, if I offended a client or potential client. While I understand that is problematic, what happens if someone just doesn’t like me? I can’t help but feel this isn’t quite right.

  52. JJ

    How formal should you be in interviews and email communications when job-hunting? In cover letters and cold emails, I’ve always addressed them as “Dear Mr./Ms. XXX” (or Dear Hiring Manager), and have signed off on emails with “Best,” “Kind/warm regards,” and so on. Once you’ve made contact with someone (either HR, hiring manager, whoever) — should the formality drop and become more casual? In email communications I’ve always kept a more serious, super-professional tone which at times has felt silly if the other person is always calling me by my first name and is being more informal, but I don’t know if it’s acceptable/preferred to start being more casual. What about in interviews — is it okay to address the interviewer by first name?

    TL;DR: How formal should you be with names/language in interviews and email communication with potential employers?

    Thanks for any advice!

    1. Calla

      I’ve always followed this rule: Start with Mr./Ms., then follow their lead. If they call you by your first name and sign off with theirs, you’re safe to switch to first names. On the other hand, if they address you as Mr./Ms. and don’t sign off in any less formal way, keep doing the same.

      That’s email, though. I can’t imagine continuing to refer to someone as Mr./Ms. X in an in-person interview unless they were really important (like you’re interviewing with a public official or something).

      1. JJ

        Hmm this sounds like a good rule to follow, thanks! Only once have I had someone immediately say, “Please, call me by (first name)”. I guess I’ll have to start taking cues from the other person.

  53. ChristineSW

    Awwww yay for adopting that totally adorable kitty!!!

    Well, can’t say I’ve made much progress since the last open thread where I talked about possibly pursuing a PhD (or was it the previous one? I know I also talked about possibly getting into evaluation work).

    Anyway….I had my long-awaited meeting with the PhD Program Director at my alma mater where I got my MSW; now I’m having second thoughts. 1) It’s a small, very competitive program where I’ll likely compete with applicants with more work and research experience than I do (my work history is patchy–long story). Thus, I think I’ll hold off until I can get that experience, which will be the challenge. 2) The director did mention evaluation work as another option and suggested I look at our education graduate school. Their evaluation program (M.Ed.) is LOADED with statistics courses, which does not really appeal to me all that much. I totally agree that quantitative data is vital in research, but I think my preference is somewhat more towards qualitative data.

    I asked if there were current PhD students and/or recent graduates I could talk to, and she was willing to provide contact info if I email her, which I did later that day. Haven’t heard back yet–I’m hoping she just got busy.

    *sigh* back to the drawing board :(

    1. periwinkle

      Find your local affiliate of the American Evaluation Association:
      http://www.eval.org/p/cm/ld/fid=12

      Talk to people there, start a discussion on the affiliate’s LinkedIn group, ask about a mentorship program, attend affiliate events, and so forth.

      There’s a push within AEA towards a greater usage of mixed methods evaluation (quant + qual), and you’ll find other qualitative enthusiasts there. I’m totally on the mixed bandwagon!

      I vaguely recall that you might be on the East Coast somewhere. If so, see if you can attend the next conference for the Eastern Evaluation Research Society. I went in 2012 and found it to be a friendly smallish conference with really interesting presentations. Also keep an eye out for books and journal articles by Donna Mertens, one of the leading voices for mixed methods.

      There is life beyond statistics, apparently. :-)

    2. Sophia

      Don’t know if pull check back, but grad programs have a list of current grad students and their alumni. You can usually get their contact info there too, so you don’t have to wait

    3. dancinglonghorn

      If you don’t like statistics, a Phd program is probably not a great fit. In every field, quantitative methodology is growing and qualitative methodology is shrinking (even in liberal arts!). So, so many more people can do qualitative work compared to quantitative work – this would make it a great challenge for you to do research that will get published which will make it hard to get jobs (no publications = no jobs) and very hard to get tenure. So I would say, if you do want to pursue research, you should really consider getting some stats (or at least, don’t rule it out before you try it!)

  54. Betty

    Interview question: I just had two great phone interviews and I know the next step is an in person interview with the team. The hr rep told me they weren’t in too much of a rush to fill the position since they’re looking for the perfect candidate. I found I need to be in my office in two weeks (no appts, long lunches, etc) since we have members of our other office making a week long visit. However, next week I’m totally flexible and would be a great time for an interview.

    Would it be ok to let the hr rep know about my office conflict and my availability to interview next week, even thought its presumptuous to assume they’d even call me in for an interview?

    1. SAK

      I had a similar experience when I interviewed for my current job. I had a vacation planned and I let the recruiter know I would be unavailable to interview that week but could come in the week before. It worked out and they offered me the job before I left for vacation.

  55. OfficeBullySituation

    I’ve got what is turning to a complex ongoing situation with the office bully in another office. When I first got here, I had some specific work to do in that office that only I could do, so I worked there 1 day a week. That has morphed into 1-2 days a week consulting in their office on projects that the bully is working on related to my specialty.

    The bully likes to act like the team lead, even though he is not, because he is friends with his entire chain of command up to one step down from our agency head. He will walk into the cubicles of co-workers and scream at them for mistakes they make. He pulls vicious pranks and then covers them up. He has the highest level of network access in the agency, allowing him to do things like erase logs, alter firmware, and reprogram embedded devices. He even once punched out two coworkers (but this was blamed on a medical issue); physical intimidation is definitely part of his game.

    The bully had me consult on a software procurement project involving a licencing of third-party software from company I work with regularly. I discovered that the software was unlicensed and the vendor, friends with the bully, had pocketed over $250k in license fees. I reported this problem when they proceeded with the purchase against my objections. The unlicensed software is still installed.

    I’ve been investigated, and cleared, for professional conduct five times since that incident. I now know he initiated the investigations.

    Now the bully’s co-workers have informed me that he is scheduling office meetings when I am not in the office and bad mouthing me at these meetings. In the projects I am consulting on, he rejects my recommendations by saying, “We cannot do that because no one will be here to maintain it when you are gone.” In the past, I have been able to cover myself when he rejects my recommendation by sending a letter up through my manager indicating what my recommendations for a project are. This included the unlicensed software project.

    Now he has learned his lesson. He doesn’t tell me about the projects at all, then informs his superiors that I approved his plan of action. I cannot cover myself or tell his supervisors differently, because no one is telling me that I “approved” these recommendations. I finally caught on when a vendor contacted me. They were perplexed that I had recommended a course of action that was highly unethical and probably illegal (unlicensed software again) for implementing a new project that was clearly in my specialty.

    My regular job is fine, and my boss is trying to keep me out of the other office as much as possible. I just have no idea how to head off the bully who is now going so far as to make attempts to sabotage my career. I am concerned that even leaving this job would not stop him at this point.
    Do I blow the whistle on the software piracy, or take some other action? HR wants to fire him, but the head of HR even has informed me that they cannot catch him in anything (and he has to be terminated for cause).

    1. Elizabeth West

      What the hell? They can’t catch him in anything? Seriously? Your HR department needs to grow a freaking spine. The illegal software issue alone should have produced a huge cause issue, especially after he did it twice. The potential liability to the company from that is enormous.

      I don’t know what to tell you; perhaps you could discuss it with your boss. Does he have your back? Can he say or do something to Bullyboy’s managers? If nothing else, Bullyboy is making himself look completely insane.

      You MUST update us.

      1. OfficeBullySituation

        He has done a very good job quietly building the case that the rest of us are incompetent and jealous of him (he his the highest pay of anyone in his office, even higher than his bosses) and getting key people to believe this. A couple of my coworkers think that this is a further reason he considers me a threat; I have been getting national recognition for my work lately.

        He has even undermined the head of HR, and has an incredible number of people believing that she has a personal grudge against him. He likes to get people into one-on-one situations or electronic communications where he can erase all of the evidence later.

        My boss is aware of all of this, but since we are a different division he has been unable to make any headway. Bully’s managers are all higher in rank than him. (And yes, I think the bully does have a mental health problem. He is even more verbally abusive to his family members than his coworkers.)

        1. Elizabeth West

          Then I have nothing to suggest but to start looking for another job, and quietly blow the whistle on the software issue (assuming it hasn’t been taken care of). Perhaps a huge legal fine will convince them to fire this man. And do whatever you can to protect yourself online. When you find another job, see if your boss will give you a reference that may mitigate some of his damage.

          This makes me want to strap on my ice skates and come kick him! TOE PICK!

        2. Sydney Bristow

          If he is erasing electronic communications then I’d start printing them all. This entire situation is nuts! I’m so sorry!

          1. OfficeBullySituation

            One of my coworkers is currently doing exactly that. Printing all her email communication with him and keeping it in a binder. Good advice. I can actually download from the archiving server this weekend and just keep a copy of everything as an archive file.

            I’ve already asked the vendors to document the meetings he has without me too. Since they think he is trying to screw them over, they have been cooperating. Fortunately he doesn’t know that I have known some of the vendor reps since grad school. :)

            1. Pussyfooter

              I hope your coworker keeps copies of the binder material outside of work. Bully sounds entirely willing to take things out of people’s work spaces if he finds out about it.

    2. Not So NewReader

      How does you boss plan on retaining employees at this rate?
      Do you document all these things?
      Where is the company attorney in all this?

    3. J

      I have two pieces of advice.

      1. Normally I’d say you should confront this guy about approving projects without your knowledge, but it seems like that would to more harm than good. So I’d talk to your boss about what is going on. I’d start with saying your concerned that projects are going trough without your knowledge.
      2. Send this question to AAM because… wow. Also, Alison obviously gives fantastic advice.

      Good luck.

    4. Aisling

      If it were me, I’d talk to HR, get all the complaints on paper, and then refuse to go to the other office. It’s getting personal and nasty now, and if your admin won’t protect you from him, you need to protect yourself. If you’re the only one with your specialty, then it’s their problem to hire and train someone else. If the bully is saying that you are authorizing unlicensed software, you could absolutely lose your job and be sued – so I’d also consider telling HR that unless he is fired, you will pursue legal action of your own – and then consult with an outside lawyer (not one in your own agency, if you have them).

      1. OfficeBullySituation

        My boss is trying to keep me out of the office, but the orders for me to consult on these projects come from very high up (our equivalent of a CEO). Ever since the bully’s behavior started escalating early last year when his buddy was transferred into administrative supervision of the office (and after another incident I did not detail), out of 9 other people in his office, 1 resigned, 1 early retired, 2 transferred to new locations, and 2 more have put in for early retirement. Only one of those positions has been rehired so far. So, they are so short-staffed that it is hard to argue to keep me out of there.

  56. SoAnon

    I worked for a fairly large non-profit some time ago. At five years we got a chrome all-in-one a clock/business card holder/pen stand item engraved with our name. At ten years we got a leather zippered portfolio and the opportunity to take a 1 month paid sabbatical in addition to our PTO, if we committed to work for the organization another two years.

  57. nyxalinth

    Have you ever had someone at work go off on you for little or no reason? I have.

    once while in training class at a call center job, I was sitting next to a classmate, an older gentleman. We were assigned a training exercise to work on individually, and I muttered under my breath in frustration something like “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”

    To this point, I have had very little interaction with him, but he jumped up out of his chair and shouted at me “You don’t dare use that language in my presence, young lady! How dare you! I am sick of you and your mouth!” Blah blah blah, on and on, and he was scarily hostile.

    Again, to that point, I’d had very little interaction. I never swore, I didn’t gossip on break or whatever. I was and still am I quiet introvert. I was also 36 at the time, and he was yelling at me like a naughty eight year old who’d said “shit” in church!

    I was so startled–I thought he was going to hit me!–and I got up and moved back several feet while he ranted. Everyone else was all “Herr derp, what happened?” except for one lady with whom I’d formed a friendship. She was able to back me up to the trainer that I hadn’t been swearing the whole time like the man tried to claim.

    ‘Hell’ wasn’t a professional thing to say, but you would have thought I’d just recited the lyrics to Cannibal Corpse songs instead from the way he reacted.

    Thankfully, my trainer ensured I would never have to be anywhere near him again, and after training we went to separate teams. Nothing was done to him for his scary outburst so far as I was ever aware.

    1. Sascha

      I wonder if he confused you with someone else, or was just tired of hearing people talk in general and chose you to flip out on. Who knows.

      I’ve had this happen with some clients. I’m a system administrator at a university, and I support a widely used application. I was once working with a professor who had been very friendly and gracious to me during all of our interactions. One day she emailed our group email with a problem, and the solution was out of our control (problem with another system). I told her so, and she flipped out on me, accusing me of sabotaging her courses and preventing her from doing her work, and she wanted to talk to my manager. Luckily my manager thinks highly of me and was on my side. From then on, she has been very rude to everyone on our team, when she does interact with us. It’s like a switch got flipped.

      1. Not So NewReader

        She behaved poorly and does not know how to undo it. So her best plan is to continue the poor behavior as if that justifies her stance some how.

    2. Sabrina

      It wasn’t exactly “no reason” but yeah, that happened to me. It was a gal’s day off, she called in to talk to a coworker who was working, but she didn’t identify herself. I wasn’t allowed to put calls through unless they were emergencies, which she knew. She came in and started screaming at me for not putting her call through. In front of patients and the charge nurse, who sat there and did nothing as this woman called me every name in the book. It was my last day at that clinic and second to last day at that company. I do not miss it.

    3. Anonymous

      I had someone in a training class decide I was angry and then spend 1.5 days making bullying comments about me. I wasn’t about to start a verbal smackdown with someone old enough to be my grandparent, so I just ignored her completely. The last thing she did was ask me if I had hit my head at lunch when I made a comment to the group that she didn’t like. After everyone just stared at her with mouths agape, she shut up completely. I’m looking forward to seeing her again. Moral highground is the best place from which to destroy one’s enemies.

  58. Elizabeth West

    Yay for new, adorable baby kitty! LOL, a friend of mine had a family member rescue an abandoned ginger kitten, and they were diligently trying to find a home for him on Facebook. I went on one day not two weeks later and she had posted, “We’re keeping him!” One of their Yorkies had died, and the one left behind was very lonely. Now he has a playmate–and he LOVES that kitten!

  59. Not So NewReader

    From time to time I have jotted down freeware that you guys have mentioned. I use a couple things and enjoy them.

    I want more.

    Tell me, what is your favorite freeware and describe something about why you like it.

    1. Elizabeth West

      Cute PDF Writer. :) I love it because I can’t afford freaking Adobe Acro-overpriced-bat. I use it ALL the time: to save documents as PDF files, to save web pages when I pay bills, etc. I don’t have a wireless printer so it is pretty much my primary one.

      I might see if I can get Acrobat through school; they have discounts at the bookstore. I want Dragon Naturally Speaking too, and they have a student version of that. All I need it for is writing; I don’t need too many extra features just to dictate.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Some people think that CutePDF works better than the over priced bat! hahaha. Yeah, I am enjoying.

        My friend got Dragon- oh my- she loves it.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Ooh, that’s good to here. I don’t know anyone who has Dragon and I would really like to be able to dictate some, as my homework and work are very hard on my wrists and hands. Sometimes my hands are too tired to write when I get home.

    2. Nicole

      I like using Primo PDF to create PDF documents. I also like PDF: PDFBinder if I have multiple PDF documents I would like to combine to one.

      Screenshots: Greenshot is more robust than the Snipping Tool that Windows comes with. Or you can install Fireshot as an add-on to Firefox to screenshot stuff from your browser (Greenshot works for anything on your machine).

      Communication: Trillian is a great chat program that can be used with Skype, Yahoo, AIM, Google Chat, Facebook, and Twitter and it remembers all your accounts if you install it on another machine since they are linked to your main Trillian account. I also like eBuddy XMS which works across iPhone and Android, and has a browser interface so you can communicate via the web. It’s handy if you’re on a limited text plan.

      Pocket is a great tool to save articles to in order to read later whether it be on your computer, tablet, or phone.

      Core FTP Le is a great FTP client. I also like putty for telnetting (it supports SSH) into my hosting accounts to play around with files.

      Then there’s the usual services like Dropbox and Evernote that I can’t live without.

      I hope you find some of these suggestions useful!

    3. Claire MKE

      I love Fl.ux, which automatically adjusts the tone of your screen when it gets dark to be easier on your eyes. It has made SUCH a huge difference to this night owl web fiend.

      1. Manda

        I just noticed the other day that Windows has a service called Adaptive Brightness that does that. I went to go restart another service and happened to glance at that. I was like, woah, what? I had never heard of that before. I didn’t bother trying it though because I can’t stand looking at a monitor on full brightness in any light, so I don’t really trust it to adjust to my liking on its own.

    4. Brett

      GIMP is incredible for anything you want to do with pictures and graphics. Best part is that for any task you want to do, someone out there has made a demo video of how to do it.

      1. Brett

        And after posting that, I remember my favorite social media management apps of the moment.
        Buffer has become indispensable to use for message scheduling at peak follower activity hours (combined with FollowerWonk).
        IFTTT (if this then that) is the glue we use to control all our cross-posting and manage social media posts (as well as any alert time we can think of) by email or phone.

    5. Not So NewReader

      You guys are awesome. I am going to be busy for a week checking this stuff out in my spare time.
      If anyone has something else to add, I will check back later.
      Hee-hee. This is going to be FUN… thanks!

  60. betty

    New grad here; I want to ask about break rooms.

    I just started my first fulltime office job, though I’ve had many part-time ones as a student. The break room here, which serves about 30 fulltime employees, is pretty typical, with a shared fridge, a microwave and a toaster. I found out the hard way on my second day that there’s no silverware! Everywhere else I’ve worked keeps a supply of plastic forks and spoons, but here I was only able to find a handful of knives. I ended buying a box of spoons that I keep in a desk drawer so that I can eat lunch. They also don’t give us napkins, kleenex or anything at all besides scratchy paper towels.

    My question: is this normal? Am I being a spoiled Millennial for thinking it’s weird to not give us forks (or god forbid, coffee supplies)?

    1. Lia

      My current place is the first one (in 18 years of work history) that consistently supplies silverware, paper towels, and napkins in the break room. Other places sometimes had odds and ends of silverware, but you either brought your own or did without. Every place I have worked at save one has had a fridge and microwave, though.

      Most of my workplaces have charged for coffee, usually $0.25/cup. My current doesn’t, but all we have is k-cups.

      1. LCL

        Not providing the supplies is normal for everyplace I have worked, except for the restaurant jobs. You’re not spoiled, you are a new grad and used to a cafeteria, where supplies are provided as well as food.

        And if someone does a good deed and buys some thriftstore things, the things will eventually disappear.

        1. betty

          Well, what I’m used to was definitely not a cafeteria – everyone had to bring in their own food; it wasn’t provided to us. They were normal break rooms, much like the one I have now, but the drawers actually had supplies in them instead of just air.

          But you just made me realize that there is a cafeteria in the basement of this building, which probably has a lot to do with us not getting utensils upstairs. (I’d honestly forgotten about the cafeteria because my boss told me my first day that it’s awful and there’s no other reason for me to go to that floor.) Thanks for helping me make that mental link; I feel better about it now :)

    2. Calla

      I guess I must be spoiled too because almost every place I’ve worked at has supplied utensils! The only place that I don’t recall doing that was a call center where I did a brief temp stint. Every other office I’ve worked in (3) had either real silverware or plastic utensils stocked (plus cups, plates, etc).

    3. The IT Manager

      is this normal?

      IMO yes. I have always brought my own silverware in a variety of offices. In my case, I keep real silverware at my desk and wash it in the kitchen sink after lunch. When my old job did not have a sink, I used plastic. I don’t drink coffee, but people usually bring their own mugs.

      Why should a organization either pay for plastic flatware or provide real ones that need to be washed (b/c know not everyone will wash what they use)? There’s enough trouble with keeping the fridge and microwave clean from spills I’m sure.

      1. betty

        Why should an organization pay for toilet paper or paper towels? (Mine does, thank god.) Or why should they pay for a fridge in the first place? I can definitely see that metal flatware can cause messes, but I don’t understand why plastic utensils would be unreasonable.

        Maybe I was spoiled by my last employer. We had utensils, paper plates and cups, coffee and tea, and they even had packets of mustard and salt and pepper. The break room was a nice place to eat lunch or sit with a cup of coffee for 15 minutes, which lots of people did.

        At my new workplace, I quickly discovered that I was a weirdo for eating in the break room, because EVERYONE eats at their desks. (And works right through lunch, and appears to never take breaks, but that’s a different issue.) Whether the crappy break room came before or after the culture of not using it is unknown to me.

        1. Colette

          Look at this a different way.

          Do public facilities supply toilet paper/paper towels? Of course, and thus an office should as well (unless they want their employees running to the gas station down the street).

          Do picnic areas supply cutlery? No, because if you’re supplying the food, you’re also responsible for supplying the means to eat the food.

          As you’re hearing here, it’s not the norm for companies to supply cutlery (possibly due to cost/environmental impact, but also possibly because they just don’t want to), and supplying their own cutlery (either from home or from the place that sold them the food they’re eating) is something that most people are easily able to do.

        2. fposte

          The thing is, there is no logical argument you can make that’s going to change workplaces across America; no matter how much you want them to buy you plastic spoons, a lot of them just won’t, even if there’s no cafeteria in the basement, and they’re not going to. C’est la vie.

        3. Brett

          “Why should an organization pay for toilet paper or paper towels? (Mine does, thank god.)”
          Unfortunately, this is based in local ordinance not state or federal law, but most of the time they pay for these things because they are legally required to. Not having toilet paper and a way to wash and dry hands will result in a loss of occupancy permit and closing down the businesses. A completely unscrupulous owner could still put the burden of keeping the bathroom stocked on the employees. Though, when you have a business where the employees are more concerned about keeping the doors open than the owner, that business is pretty much meant to fail anyway.

      2. Windchime

        My office used to supply plasticware but doesn’t any longer. There is free coffee and sugar, but no tea. I bought a cute plate at Target and keep my own knife, fork and spoon at my desk and just wash it after lunch in the sink. They do supply dish soap and there are a few common utensils such as a can opener in the kitchen drawer.

        I think there are also a few random coffee mugs in the cupboards but I prefer to use my own cute tea mug, and keep it at my desk.

    4. Elizabeth West

      Pretty normal, especially for smaller companies. My current and last companies supply them, but none of the ones before that did.

      Bring your own and keep in your desk. Also, whenever I get takeout food that I eat at home, I save the flatware packs to put in my lunch. They often come with a napkin and a salt /pepper packet. :)

    5. Judy

      I generally carry in and out the required flatware in my lunch, if I forget one day, I have to run down to the cafeteria. I’m not sure I’ve seen anyplace that doesn’t supply food (cafeteria, etc) supply plasticware.

      Also here, in our building, they have a coffee clubs, where people join and pay $x per month, and that’s where the coffee supplies come from. In the corporate building, the coffee supplies come out of the budget. I think that has to do at least somewhat with how the cafeteria contract is written. (If we order in for a meeting, and get caught, we have to pay our cafeteria vendor. I’ve been in many lunch meetings at corporate where they have food brought in and nothing is said.)

      Go buy a cheap set of flatware, and take them home and wash them every day.

    6. anonn

      We pay a tax for the coffee supplies (stupid HMRC) per month as the company supply them. There is also a fridge and microwave. We however provide our own cups, utensils etc and plates if we want to do home made food.. They do have half a dozen tea spoons but those have been dwindling lately so I’m not sure where they are going.

    7. CathVWXYNot?

      Everywhere I’ve worked has had a hodgepodge of mismatched plates, and nothing else – everyone just brings in their own cutlery and mugs, and most people bring their lunch in microwaveable glassware. All my workplaces have, however, provided supplies for everyone to wash all their plates, cutlery etc., and paper towels. Pretty normal, and way more environmentally friendly than using disposable plastic and paper stuff (I’m not in a field directly related to the environment, but the vast majority of people in my field are very eco-conscious, carry reusable water bottles and coffee mugs etc).

    8. Manda

      I despise the thought of everyone just tossing plastic cutlery in the garbage everyday. I try to be environmentally friendly as much as possible. Even at barbecues or whatever, I cringe when I see all the paper plates, and plastic cutlery and cups in the garbage – especially the cups because they’re usually recyclable. When I go camping we always keep disposable plastic cups in the trailer, but they get washed and reused. I see tons of people throwing them in the garbage, or worse, the fire. It drives me nuts.

      But getting back to work…If the company doesn’t provide cutlery you’ll just have to bring your own. You can always keep a box of plastic utensils handy in case you forget, just don’t use them everyday. The store I used to work at had some dishes available but people weren’t washing them so they were taken away. I always just brought my own anyway. At the office I worked at, there were dishes available but there was also a dishwasher. I still brought my own cutlery anyway and someone pointed out that there was some in the drawer. I just said it was habit to pack it with me. If you don’t want to bring your cutlery from home, just go to a department store and check out the camping supplies and food storage. I’ve seen plastic cutlery sets (usually just a fork, knife, and spoon) that are meant to be portable and reusable. You could get a couple of those just for work.

    9. Chinook

      It is normal to have a lack of silverware. What no one has told you is that breakrooms are infested with gnomes who are attracted to silverware and coffee cups and hoard them like treasure. These gnome hoards are often hidden in a coworkers desk underneath piles of paper and files (the perfect hiding place because desks are rarely cleaned). In self defense, I bought a plastic collapsible silverware set that I keep in my purse. I now have ever my own knife, spoon, fork and chopsticks.

  61. Trisha

    I just had a phone interview for a job that would work with young adults from different countries coming to the US for a few months of work and travel. Was it a bad idea to mention that if I don’t find the right job for me by the end of the year I plan to go on a long (3-4 month) trip?
    I said it casually and without really even thinking about it. At first, I figured it would show I have a similar mindset to clients and would understand where they are coming from. However, now I’m thinking the interviewer would worry I wouldn’t be dedicated to the job and would take off to go travelling. If I were to interview for a similar position, how could I demonstrate this passion for travel without shooting myself in the foot?

    1. Trixie

      I don’t think you said anything that unreasonable, but I probably wouldn’t recommend the same wording next time :) I think you can mentioned previous travels, and how much you enjoy traveling while on vacation.

  62. nyxalinth

    I’m so glad you adopted that adorable kitten!

    Here’s another question for you guys. How do you handle it when you’ve accidentally annoyed or bothered someone, or made a mistake and have apologized, and they keep on and on about it? I mean stuff like this:

    “Hey, be more careful with x/doing y/it bothers me when you do xyz/Hey, look where you’re going!”

    “I’m sorry about that, I’ll be more careful/do things differently/make sure it doesn’t happen again” in a way that conveys I take it seriously, which I do.

    (person keeps on about it)

    “Yes, I really am sorry about that” (More statements of what I will do to not make the same mistake because I want to ensure they know I am not being cavalier)

    (Still on about it)

    Me, getting cranky and trying to stay professional/polite : “Yes, I heard you (sometimes adding the first time, and the second depending if I’m really getting annoyed and losing my grip on my Happy Thoughts). Is there something I’m saying or doing/not saying or doing that makes you feel like I’m not taking this seriously?”

    (ramble natter whine)

    At this point, depending, I either say, “I need to get back to work now, please let me know if there’s anything else we need to discuss.” Or, if I’m really riled up “Goddamn it, I said I was sorry! Do you want my blood?” that hasn’t happened in a work setting, thankfully, and it does take a lot of continued going on about it to get me to that point. I really ought to just eliminate apologies 2-4 and say “I do understand, but unless there’s something else we need to discuss, I need to get back to work/walk the dog/go to sleep now.” I just feel compelled to keep apologizing until they either finally leave me alone or I blow my stack.

    1. Aisling

      I’d probably apologize twice, but if they continue on, I’d say (and have said): “I’m not sure what else you want me to do here. I’ve apologized, but you are still upset. What else do you want to me say or do?” The person usually just wants to continue ranting, so asking that sometimes stops them in their tracks.

    2. Not So NewReader

      “Uh. It was my understanding that you accepted my apology. Is there a particular reason why we are still discussing this? We can discuss that new reason however, I will not be apologizing over and over for the same thing.”

      I think you need to nip it the second time you get a remark. No reason to apologize 2-4 more times. You know the behavior pattern- nip it at the earliest point.

      When you said “Do you want my blood?” I laughed out loud because I had been thinking about a pound of flesh. geez.

    3. fposte

      I’m assuming you’ve been honest with yourself about whether your apology was up to the standard, and this isn’t somebody who thinks “Whoops, my bad” was not the response they were seeking when you set their hair on fire.

      My feeling is that once you’ve given a sufficient and sincere apology, you can pretty much let your attention gradually drift back to your regularly scheduled if they keep on railing. I would try to resist undermining the apology with subsequent snark (though it’s tough) and stick to a neutral (and increasingly toneless) “As I said, Bob, I’m very sorry.” This sounds like a fire burning out rather than an attempt to get more response out of you, so I don’t think it’s based on what you do; might as well do what you want.

      1. Not So NewReader

        And hopefully, fposte, nyxalinth is not setting 3-4 people’s hair on fire each week. That could get tiring.

    4. anonn

      Usually I use the line “We’ve covered that matter in the past and it won’t happen again as we discussed. Shall we move on to new ground rather than going over old?”.

      I’ve used the same, incidentally, on someone who keeps apologising for an old incident.

  63. Sabrina

    A bit of a “woe is me” here – I applied for a job last night after work, and shortly before I went to bed, I got a rejection email. Sadly, that’s not even the fastest rejection I’ve received. Job searching sucks. Job searching out of town for a career change to a field you have no experience in, is *the* suck.

    1. Anonymously Anonymous

      fastest rejection for me: 1 sec after hitting submit on Taleo! Hope things get better for you.

    2. Manda

      It’s BS that hiring and applicant screening are often considered part of human resources when they outsource the work to an applicant tracking system. There is nothing human about having a computer program decide you’re unqualified without ever having a real live person actually see your application.

    3. Audiophile

      I’ve been there. I’ve received some pretty quick rejections – think much less than an hour. While it’s disheartening, I kind of appreciate that they didn’t leave me hanging.

      Hang in there.

      1. Felicia

        The reason I hate such quick rejections is that you spent (probably) a significant amount of time on the application, and they spent no time at all even looking at it. I think it has to be at least a day after the application for me to appreciate being told. But it’s so rare to get a rejection pre interview, you normally hear nothing at all, so i move on quickly from applications and don’t expect to hear anything unless i’m asked for an interview, which is why i don’t like those email rejections. Just personally, ive already moved on so it gets me upset about something i wouldn’t have been upset about otherwise.

  64. Gilbey

    I sent my resume in for a position I had no background in. The on-line app asked if I had any exp in the job and I said no. ( I sent it in on a whim and basically because I needed to log it in for a official job search for UI ). Didn’t think I get a call.

    So they call me the next day and do a 15 min phone interview and knowing I have NO exp in the field, asked me to come in for a interview the next day.

    2.5 hours later and 5 people later….. with all of them telling me ” oh by the way we know you have no exp in this field….” I was done with the interview.

    Today, I got a letter of rejection. Wow that wasn’t unexpected !!

    OK so I am not mad I didn’t get the job. I was more irritated that they bothered interviewing me knowing I was not qualified. I had no clue as to what I was suppose to say to them, to sell them on me, because I didn’t know what they wanted from me. And frankly I think some of them had no clue as to what to ask. They were reaching to ask me things regarding my fit for the job.

    The recruter who started this , even said they were not sure who they were going to hire…. either someone with LOTS of background or someone with a little or none, changing the title from a specialist to an assistant depending on what they decide. ( I know they can change the title, just don’t understand how they can have no clue as to what they want)

    Really? You are going to interview people that have anywhere between 5 years of being a baker or someone who has stated they can’t crack an egg? That is a pretty big difference in skills. (that was not the job but you get my point).

    Or you have no clue as to even how to divvy down your applicants to who would best be fitted for an interview let alone the job?

    I get that you can train people and I get fit is an issue as well, but this was beyond that. I was clearly not qualified for even an interview. I will even give in to them calling, me but isn’t the point of a phone interview to screen out people?

    Just annoyed at such a waste of time. And if I came off poorly will they even interview me again for a more fitting position?

    1. COT

      Perhaps they are bad at hiring, in which case you probably wouldn’t want to work for them anyway. If they’re bad at hiring, you could either be hired for a job that’s a really bad fit for you or hired to work alongside a bunch of coworkers who were bad hires themselves.

      But maybe you were actually a viable candidate! They knew you didn’t have relevant experience and they said they were open to hiring someone without relevant experience. Maybe they were looking for the right personality, transferable skills, etc. more than the right set of concrete experience. Perhaps they did have some fixed hiring criteria, but they were more along the lines of these qualities than years of directly-related experience. I know plenty of hiring managers who look for personality, culture fit, basic workplace skills, etc. and are willing to train for the specific duties of the job. Could that be what happened here?

      1. Gilbey

        COT,
        Thanks for you reply. Regarding your last paragraph I have thought of that.

        That might be the case but if is was I was still not impressed with the interview. I should not have come out of the interview scratching my head wondering what had just happened?
        I am thinking about my lack of skills for this job and they are looking for ” other stuff” of which I don’t know.
        I get the fit stuff and the ability to train stuff but I almost felt they were trying too hard to find something to fit.
        ” OK she doesn’t have ” XYZ” background… hmmm what else might work.”

        I think if anything it should have been a shorter interview and then call me back. This went from recruter, to another worker, to VP of HR to HR manager and possible co-worker.

        And I also can’t believe there were not enough candidates from just looking at resumes that had some exp that would have fit better initially. If not fine work your way down to someone like me.

        Oh well…. at least I got more interview exp under my belt……

    2. Anonymous

      If you are so totally sure that you were not even qualified for an interview why were you applying?

      I would assume that you had some qualifications, background, other information, experience that they did find valuable and they were actually interested because that makes the most sense.

      Or maybe they were horrible and they were just taunting you. They wanted to actively waste their time of several staff just to annoy you, a person they don’t know or care about at all.

      Chances are good they thought you were a good enough candidate to bring in and interview and they thought you might have potential but you didn’t end up being the best pick.

      1. Gilbey

        I think the problem I had was I was not confident in what they were looking for.
        They told me 3-4 times I did not have the background in this but…. But what?

        So what do you want? How can I confidently answer questions when they didn’t seem to know what to ask and what response they wanted.

        If I wasn’t fitting the job descripition what was I fitting?

  65. Indyjones

    Monday I start a new job which requires quarterly travel to Asia. I have not travelled regularly for any of my jobs to date. I am a working mother of three boys (2 middle school, one late elementary) and I have a hands-on coparent/husband and nearby family help. Any tips, warnings or advice on the travel itself or how to manage the travel with kids at home?

    1. SAK

      I don’t have kids so can’t advise you there. As far as travel, I’ve made many trips to Asia. Tips that have helped me –
      – if you are not adventurous when it comes to food, bring protein bars to tide you over
      – bring a sleep aid or something like Advil PM to help you adjust to the time change
      – try to get in some exercise every day
      – use the same airline or an affiliate whenever possible so you can use the frequent flyer miles for a family vacation
      – enjoy yourself! Take the opportunity to see something new each time. It’s too easy to get stuck in the office the entire time and never see anything besides the hotel. Ask your local colleagues to show you around, usually they will be happy to give a tour of their city.

    2. Katie the Fed

      I can’t tell you about managing it with kids at home, but I can tell you lots about Asia, because I’ve been everywhere.

      – Always bring toilet paper with you when you leave the hotel. A lot of bathrooms won’t have it or you’ll have to pay a lot for it.
      – Immodium is your friend. Bring lots. LOTS.
      – Be careful of hand signals because they might mean different things (cultural norms and all)
      – Pickpockets are very good – keep an eye on your money at all times, keep copies of your passport in the hotel room, and if you find yourself surrounded by children be aware that one of them may be reaching in your pocket while you’re distracted.
      – You might be curious about eating a durian if you’re in SE Asia. You will probably regret it. ((shudder))
      – Check with the embassy on warnings for where you should/shouldn’t go. In some places, it’s really not a good idea for women to be out and about on their own, and that really pains me to say but it’s the reality. Be careful. India I was really uncomfortable out alone, Japan/China no problem at all.
      – Dress conservatively, especially if you’re in a more traditional place. Indonesia, for example, be more conservative than Japan. Just common sense.

      As far are the kids, some ideas:
      – Get them to learn about the place you’re traveling, and send lots of pictures and updates. If they have a favorite stuffed animal or something you can take pictures of it in various places. That would be fun.
      – Skype or facetime with them often.
      – Bring back goodies, but don’t go overboard. There was a time I was excited whenever my dad traveled because I knew I’d get stuff. Ha!

  66. AnonPuff

    …I just got an email saying a job I applied to had been filled. (Boo, but yay I guess I got a confirmation email?)

    …but the subject line really baffled me.

    “no thank you”

    I seriously thought it was spam! What?!

    1. Anonymously Anonymous

      “No thank you”

      Oh gosh that sounds a bit harsh in that context! Although I use it pretty much every day with preschoolers….wait was it for a preschool teaching position?

      1. AnonPuff

        Ha! That’s pretty adorable, I can see it being reaaaally repetitive though. ;) Aww. Preschoolers!

        And no, it was for a professional job in a university library. Zuh. Maybe they’re used to talking to students… ;)

    2. CathVWXYNot?

      For some reason, the first possibility I thought of is that someone asked an inexperienced assistant to send out “the no thank you emails”, and they misunderstood…

      1. AnonPuff

        I feel like that’s probably what happened… I looked the person up, and they seem to be an assistant in the HR department, but in the diversity section. o.O Not sure how they divide up work, and it looks like a form letter, but you’d think they’d also have a form letter email subject line! Hah.

  67. Anonymous

    For those of you who are contract programmers (or equivalent):

    How do you handle having multiple “bosses”? How do you handle it when you get the inevitable competing deadlines? What about when deadlines slip? Or when a client goes all silent running on you for a bit, then comes back with an emergency deadline?

    1. periwinkle

      Panic?

      Right now I’m a part-time project consultant with two different companies. For my main client, this happens all the time – deadlines slip, the client takes weeks to review your draft deliverable and then comes back with a bunch of changes to the changes they had made on the last draft, said client really needs those changes ASAP, and then everything sits again to marinate for a few weeks before it starts over again.

      Do what you can in advance, practice making/proofing revisions at a rapid pace, push back when you have to, and try to breathe!

  68. anonymous

    Hi ya’ll –

    Would love to hear thoughts on this: Is it normal to feel very upset about a wonderful boss (and mentor), leaving my organization? She’s leaving under excellent terms, is preparing a comprehensive transition plan, and we’re all supportive of her next opportunity. The thing is, I find myself feeling very upset by this on an off since hearing the news.

    This has been my first real job, and it’s been everything I’ve dreamed of and more. I know a lot of this is coming from a natural fear of the unfamiliar, but I’m wondering if others have felt this bummed about losing a boss who’s been both a particularly fantastic leader/mentor and friend?

    1. fposte

      This seems perfectly natural to me. Why wouldn’t you be bummed at losing somebody you’ve benefited from working from and whose company you enjoy? Sure, maybe you have additional reasons I don’t know about that make this a little tougher, but I think everybody that likes their boss would greet a departure with some sadness and concern.

    2. FD

      Nope, this is normal. But here’s the good part: even though she won’t be your boss, you don’t have to lose her as a friend and mentor! Writer her a nice card telling her what you told us, that you’ll miss her and how much you’ve learned. Ask to keep in touch. It can be very helpful to have mentors and connections at other organizations!

    3. MW

      In one of my first “real” jobs, I had a boss who I loved. I’d only worked there for a few months, but we had a good rapport and she was mentoring me. I was, therefore, really upset when she announced she was leaving. So upset that I cried (!) in the staff meeting when she told everyone.

      I felt like an idiot for doing that in front of my colleagues, but you know what? She was totally touched, and that made me feel less silly. :)

  69. Amber

    So I’m 17, and I had a job interview yesterday. As far as I know, my references haven’t been called yet; but, once they are, I will hopefully get to a second interview! Yay! Now, I’m not expecting to actually get the job FOR SURE, but I DO have a question that seems very important to me…

    In the next few months, I have plans on five different weekends. It works out to 7 days in total – two Saturdays (a family friend’s wedding and a car rally that I want to attend in a city five hours away with my dad), one Sunday (a meeting with friends in a city about an hour away – I only get to see them a few times a year, like literally every couple of months or more), and two full-weekend courses that I will hopefully be taking (first aid certification things).

    Now, how do I bring that up if I end up getting a job offer? Three of the weekends are in November – the rally, and the course. I’m worried that if I do get a job offer, it will be rescinded as soon as I bring it up. I mean, the course I might not be taking and I could probably back out of the thing with my friends – but I REALLY want to go and meet my friends, and the family friend’s wedding I absolutely cannot miss. My dad might be working the Saturday of the rally, but in past years the whole experience of going and watching it has been really amazing and I don’t want to give that up if at all possible.

    Seriously, what do I do? I’m hoping to find a job by the end of next month, but apparently it’s really easy to get a job at this place that I interviewed at and everybody’s telling me that I will for sure get the job there, so I just want to be prepared, just in case.

    I live in Ontario, by the way, and I don’t usually have this many weekends with plans on them.

    1. COT

      I assume you’re applying for the kinds of jobs that require weekend work, given your age. Some employers will be totally fine with you taking time off for commitments you already had before accepting the job, while others will expect you to have pretty open availability when you’re just starting out.

      If I were you, I’d prioritize those weekend commitments, and be willing to possibly sacrifice some of them. Having all of that time off may be no problem but it very well could be when you’re brand-new. So have the dates written down and ask, “I already have important commitments on these dates in the next few months. Will taking these days off be problematic?” If you’re absolutely unwilling/unable to work on any of these days, I’d ask about this when you get the offer but haven’t accepted the job yet. If they say no, would you walk away from the offer? Would you be willing to narrow it down to just 1-2 days you need off, and ask if that would be a workable compromise? Be prepared to make that tough decision.

      Also, if you’re able to work partial days around your special events (like a morning shift) offer that too. Some employers will only give full days off just to make scheduling easier, but some might be content for you to only be partially available that day.

      And remember that most of the jobs you’re likely applying for allow workers to swap shifts. So perhaps you might have to only request a couple of the most important days off, but might be able to trade with coworkers later to get to some of your other events after all, if you can wait until that week’s schedule is released.

      Good luck!

      1. Amber

        Oh, okay! That makes sense. :) The wedding and the rally are an all-day thing, but with all the other events, I would be able to work in the evening. >_<;

    2. Colette

      I assume this is a retail/food service job. Short answer: you might need to cancel some of the plans. However, it depends on a lot of things, including when you get a job and what their training looks like. It’s normal to work different hours while training than you would once you’re trained.

      If you’re mostly available on weekends, though, you’ll have to adjust to fitting fun things in around work. And if you’re mostly available on weekends and you take 3 weekends off in a month, you’re not really going to be working much. I realize this is unusual, and I’m not suggesting you change your plans before you actually get a job, but it’s something to be aware of.

      (In my second-hand experience, once you’ve been working there for a while and you’ve proven you’re reliable and don’t ask for many days off, they’ll give you some leeway, so it might be possible for you to take 3 weekends off next November.)

      1. Amber

        The two weekends are for a course for a certification involving first aid, but I may not be getting the course anyway. I’ll definitely keep that in mind. :$

        1. Colette

          First aid is one that’s easier to justify, so it might be ok. As COT says, it’s reasonable to ask if you get an offer – just be aware that the answer might be that they can’t accommodate all of those dates.

  70. ALex

    Just curious: where did you get your Linkedin photo? Did you take it yourself at home? Pay a professional photographer for business head shots? Use a personal photo?

    I want my photo to look nice but I am having a hard time taking a good one at home, but I don’t want to pay $100/hr for one photo.

    1. SAK

      I used my webcam on a day I was especially pleased with how my hair looked. I have a home office with a neutral backdrop so it looks professional. If you don’t have a good backdrop at your house try your office or school – find a neutral wall to stand against and ask a friend to take it.

    2. Claire MKE

      I cropped a pic from attending a graduation, but I think I need a new one (new glasses + hair), so I’ll probably just take a snapshot some time I’m professionally dressed.

  71. Nicole

    I took mine at home against a neutral wall with my digital SLR and then adjusted it in Photoshop. You could probably find someone who has a nice camera like mine who could do a photo-shoot for a reasonable fee. I’d do it for far less than $100 if you happen to be in my area (Chicago burbs). Otherwise, try to find someone local if you don’t have any friends with the necessary equipment or skills. When I got married I searched online and found a freelancer who gave me exactly what I wanted for far less than some photographers charged and the quality was still superb.

  72. Jess

    How can I subtly encourage visitors to my desk to stand/sit across from the desk when speaking or handing me work and not come around the desk and stand next to me while I’m at my computer? I have an L-shaped desk, and my computer is in the corner. I have no problem turning slightly to speak with someone; my back is not facing the door. I even have two chairs in my office for visitors, but no one uses them! They come around the desk and get all up in my personal space (to the point where I can hear gum-smacking and smell bad breath). I have tried placing items in the way next to me, but they just get kicked. My desk is spotless, so it’s not a problem of workspace. I even (depending on level of seniority) try backing away a little in my chair, but I can’t go much of anywhere!

    1. Cassie

      Not sure if you have enough time when the person walks into your office but how about sliding away from the computer a bit, gesture to the chair, and say “have a seat!”? Make sure you are facing the guest chairs directly?

      If you have to look up something on the computer, shift the monitor so they can see from that side of the desk.

      1. Jess

        I like “have a seat!” I’ll try to remember that. I did end up moving my wastebasket and one of my two guest chairs directly beside my desk to both close off the space a little more and give more of a visual “have a seat” vibe. I also moved my three-tier inbox from the front corner of my desk to atop a filing cabinet, so now I have a giant clear space to look inviting. It has worked a couple of times so far.

  73. thenoiseinspace

    So I’m planning to re-start the ol’ job search again in the spring (oh joy) and I want to make sure I’m prepared when the time comes. I’m a writer looking to move back into magazine writing (I was at a national mag prior to my current position but changed for financial reasons). Everyone I’ve talked to says that having a blog that you update frequently with good content helps get these jobs, as it shows that you can produce work on a regular basis and provides them with sample pieces in addition to your published portfolio. With this in mind, I started a blog in July and have been regularly updating since.

    So my question is really more of a request: will any of you please take a look and tell me what you think? It’s still early enough that I can change styles now and still have a good amount of work by spring, so I’m looking for feedback. The blog is magazine-style, and is a foreign culture blog – each month I focus on one country and post about food, history, literature, music, etc. I know the design of the posts isn’t perfect, but I’m not going to be looking for design work – it’s mainly to show creativity and writing style.

    So here’s a good sample post: http://travelfare.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/undercover-cuisine-classic-german-dishes-that-have-infiltrated-the-american-palate/ Thoughts? Opinions? Suggestions? If you were an employer looking for a writer, what would you want to see done differently? Thanks in advance to anyone who’s willing to take a look!

    1. AnonPuff

      I’m not an employer, or a writer, but a regular old-fashioned reader — I enjoyed the blog as a whole! I like that it’s a mix of cooking/recipes, information, and travel. I actually like Wurst101 a lot, it’s packed with quick information but not too long, and the picture is nice. I’d read more! :)

      (Ermagerd, PIKELETS! :D Mmm.)

      1. thenoiseinspace

        Thank you! I don’t have a lot of viewers, and thus not a lot of comments – do you think that employers will look at that? As in, do you think they’ll only want someone with a “successful” blog?

        1. AnonPuff

          Aww, I’ll comment! ;) Actually I’m going to add your blog to my RSS reader, so I can keep up to date. I like it!

          I honestly have no idea. Hardly anyone ever reads the blog posts I write for my work, but when I do get comments, they’re positive… Hahah. I mean, I guess it helps to have visitors, but if you’re showcasing writing (vs. advertising and marketing and stuff to draw people in), I’d -hope- they’d be understanding, right? I mean, considering you’re not paid to do it, and you don’t really have an advertising staff…

          1. Sarah

            Oh, thank you! You didn’t have to do that. :) Yeah, I hope they’ll be understanding, though that hasn’t been my experience so far. Right now I’m just trying to focus on building a good base of content so that there will be a lot of material for them to see in the spring. I’ve got the follower count hidden, so they won’t be able to judge based on that. The only reason I’m worried about it is that frequently, writers do a lot of the social media for their companies and a low number of followers might not look so good for that end of things, but then again, I don’t really want to go into social media and marketing anyway. But I’m glad you like it! And thank you again!

        2. AnonPuff

          Oh, I mean…sadly, most of my “comments” are literally verbal comments from coworkers. Sometimes we’ll get emails saying “omg yay thank you for posting that!” But our blog has comments disallowed. It’s sort of sad, but I can see not wanting to be a mod.

          1. Sarah

            Yeah, and a lot of times comment sections are more trouble than they’re worth. If you’re representing a business, I can see why they’d want to avoid spammers and possibly rude comments.

  74. Anonymously Anonymous

    I’m trying to decide if …

    a) I should go back to school get my masters (and do it over the course of a few years). The field I want to go in you definitely need your masters (Social Work) but from what I’m seeing Social Worker’s roles are being filled by RNs (Associate and Bachelor level)

    b) ask for a set day off so I can go back and get my masters (whether it’s in Social Work, School Psychology or some other field or even go back in pick up a certificate as an occupational therapist assistant or physical therapist assistant, .

    c)or simply keep looking for another job

    We just had cuts this year. I was cut 2.5 hours a week plus a possibility of more cuts if enrollment is low as it was last year. If I ask for a set day that cuts me an additional 6.5 hours a week. I’m not sure if my supervisor will allow me to split or make up those hours (even though it’s totally feasible) plus per policy in the employee handbook no one can ‘make up’ time.
    I did get the annual raise plus a few extra coins that took me up to the next whole dollar. I know my director was trying to keep me pretty much at what I was making previously but I’m still $20 short a paycheck.

    I would really like to try to propose the set day off (because I could actually benefit from it plus get in some interview time or classes) but only if I can keep my hours close to 32.5. There is one day in the week that we have half of the students anyway so that would be a perfect day for me to have as a set day off. I just fear that they will counter and say great idea, and cut me to 26 hours a week which I definitely can’t afford…

    1. Not So NewReader

      I would want my income stabilized first, if it were me.
      So I am thinking that checking out what social work jobs you can get with you bachelor’s would be good.
      I am loving the idea of being a PT or OT. I think you will have a steady income for the rest of your life.
      The MA makes me cautious. That is more debt which goes into stress… not good.

      1. Anonymously Anonymous

        I’ve been checking different websites and trying to use my network for the social work type positions. Typically I can only do case management (non-clinical). A friend I just reconnected with, who also manages a residential group home, gave me a few new leads. Just not sure if I want to work in a residential group home (depends on the population— I like working with kids under 5 and possibly teenagers…)
        Also I’m looking more into do early intervention services (direct care in the home) this is where the OTA or PTA certificate would be a bonus. Hopefully I will hear something soon.

        Going back to get the MA is giving me pause too as I’m do want any more debt!

        1. Not So NewReader

          Become acquainted with the burn-out rates for the various fields.
          Social workers burn out in five years where I live. Peach. NO job and plenty of debt for the MA.
          Make sure that you fully understand what you are getting into if you go to work in a group home. Will you ever be there by yourself? How about overnight and by yourself?

          That certification thing sounds really good. Case management can turn into way more job than you ever anticipated. But of everything you listed here, I think these two are the best ideas.

  75. Anony1234

    How would I go about this?:

    I teach as an adjunct at a local community college. It is one of my part-time jobs. I thoroughly enjoy this job, but I have reasons to get out of my other part-time job (no promotional growth, slightly over minimum wage page, etc.). I have been job searching, but since my class this semester is during normal business hours and potentially not conducive to making a new employer happy, I have only been applying to jobs that will begin following this semester.

    But I can’t keep living like that. I need to make a living. I want to get a full-time job with benefits. However, I would like to continue teaching. Therefore, my question is: When I put forward my request to my supervisor at the college that I want a nighttime class (6pm or later), do I tell him why? It might look strange to him that I went from being available from the first class of the day to the last everyday of the week (the other job works around my teaching schedule as it is just one class, one day a week) to only nights. Adjuncts are known to adjunct to supplement the income to their full-time jobs, but I came in as the opposite.

    I won’t know if I get a full-time job until I do, and I’m hoping it will be sooner rather than later as it already feels like later.

    1. fposte

      Are there generally other courses offered during evening hours? Then it should be fine to ask for what’s apparently considered a standard time. I wouldn’t bother to offer an explanation unless I were asked (you might not well be, if it’s a common teaching slot there; nobody’d query it in my department). If they do ask, probably anything from “other job” to “scheduling conflict” is fine.

      However, be prepared for the possibility that the time you propose might not be one that would work for the course(s) you would teach; sometimes they’ll have preferences about the timing of course offerings. But that shouldn’t stop you from asking–just be ready for how you want to go if the answer is no.

    2. MiaE97042

      I wouldn’t worry about explaining why at all. The issue with adjuncts is there are a lot and they get slotted into spots that no one was available to teach, that retired faculty also turned down, or that they have a specific knowledge and/or degree in a narrow field…there’s a lot of factors at play in dividing up work among the adjunct professors. If they’ve been good about accommodating you thus far, I wouldn’t worry. Also, people understand the situation adjuncts are in. I know some teaching across 4 colleges. They know you need another means to support yourself, that shouldn’t be odd to them. Really it will come down to whether they have evening classes available in your subject area and where you are in line for the classes.

  76. MiaE97042

    So many questions! My biggest one right now is this. I took a job as a secretary. I have a law degree and but am not admitted to practice yet, and I don’t know if I will be. It was very hard to find work outside of the legal field for some reason. I feel under-employed and have lots of good experience, but nothing specialized because I’ve spent so much time in school. What are the best ways to be laying some groundwork for transitioning into a higher level position? I am looking for volunteer opportunities. I would hate to have to get another degree. How much secretarial experience means I will never be able to work as anything else? I was a legal assistant before law school.

    1. Anonymously Anonymous

      “How much secretarial experience means I will never be able to work as anything else”

      I’m thinking around 2 years…that seems to be the minimum requirement of experience to get a job in the first place.
      This sucks! I’m almost 8 years into my current job –definitely fear that I won’t be able to get a job doing anything else.

    2. Calla

      (I’m not an attorney but have worked as support staff in law.)

      What about short-term contract review type jobs (as in, I’ve seen a few postings where they just want someone to review some documents and that’s it)? Have you looked at any legal aide type offices yet? The kind that help out students or low-income communities. I’m thinking those would have volunteer opportunities.

      idk if there’s a hard cut-off. I’ve known attorneys who worked as paralegals before and then all through law school. Granted you already have the law degree, but I think everyone knows the law job market is tough right now.

      1. MiaE97042

        Yeah, I actually am not admitted, which limits my options, and I also wanted to get out of the legal field, which has been the tough part of this. I can’t get a job IN the field without admission (most places actually don’t like to hire law school grads as paralegals, interestingly), and it’s been harder than I thought to find work outside of it because 1) I don’t have enough related experience and 2) they assume you really do want to be a lawyer and will leave. It’s been frustrating. I’m trying to figure out how to build my other skill sets so I can move up, but with substantial amounts of administrative experience, I worry I won’t be able to do anything else.

  77. rai dai

    Does anyone have a quick link to where Alison discusses listing multiple positions with one company on a resume ? Its for a friend …. thanks a bunch.

    1. Diane

      Chocolate Teapots, Inc. 2000-2012
      VP, Teapot Development 2010-2012
      Director, Teapot Handle and Lid Division 2007-2010
      Lid Designer 2004-2007
      Chocolate Shipping and Receiving 2000-2004

  78. Marie

    I’m HR coordinator and part of my job is to condust exit interviews. They vary from no information to usefull information, mostly the employees are open and will tell me all about the situation, their plans and what we need to change. The problem I have is that most of the time, when I ask about HR (in writting first and then while speaking to them) that we are good, that they love me, and I was always helpfull, but that my coworker is a B** and so on… she’s the one entering the data into the system and I always feel typing, Marie is a 10, but that other girl, she is mean or what not… I’m never sure how to handle that

  79. Newbie

    I am in the midst of a job search and am not quite sure how to handle my situation going forward. I am looking to relocate across the country, mostly because circumstances require me to be closer to family. Nothing tragic, and I likely would have wanted to make the move anyway. I have gotten feedback from companies I’ve met with that they are impressed by my resume but would rather go with a local candidate (which I understand, as my target city is closer to my family but not actually where I’m from, so I see why people may be skeptical about whether I’m serious about the move).

    Ultimately, I decided to leave my current position without another job lined up. I realize that most would advise against this, and I may regret it one day, but it seemed to be the best option. The situation had become unworkable, and I was seeing myself stuck in a job that was a bad fit for me, and in a bad location for me. I am now gearing up to make the cross-country move and, while I know it will be that much more difficult to find employment without a current position, I’m hoping having relocated will at least help.

    Two questions, if anyone has time: (1) As a hiring manager, would you be wary of my reasoning for making this move? (I of course would leave out the part suggesting that I disliked the prior position and instead focus on the relocation.) (2) I have given notice and my last day at my current company is coming up next week. Is it fine to list my job as present employment up until that last day, or should I be listing the end date already? I realize I will have to discuss it in interviews either way, but I also don’t want to appear dishonest by sending in resumes knowing that I would be leaving the job just a few days later.

    Thanks – any advice would be much appreciated!

    1. fposte

      I think it’s fine to list the job as current while you’re still doing it. I don’t think you need to mention that its days are numbered in interviewing, either, unless something comes up where the only alternative would be to lie.

      I think that “I decided I wanted to be nearer family” is pretty reasonable for an explanation, especially if you can add that you know the new city and like it; once you’re actually looking from that city, people are less likely to care, because they’re less worried that desperation has led you to apply to locations that you’d be reluctant to move to.

  80. JP

    Hi! I know that I’m super-late to the game, so I’d be surprised (but grateful!) if anyone was able to see this and comment on it.

    I sort-of internally interviewed today for a job that I would love, be really good at, and have a lot of internal support for…but I’m not the best-qualified candidate, technologically speaking. (It’s for a web producer role). I’m really good with technology, have experience with the platforms they want (even if it’s not on a deep level) and always want to grow, learn, and find the next thing…but more importantly, I have a lot of concrete ideas for connecting our existing platforms/brand to our potential customers and have great ideas for creating repeat customers. I also have a deep history of working with the brand, which not many people have.

    The interviewers seemed to really like me and to go in with the predisposition that they would hire me. They were really impressed with the extra assets I brought along in addition to my digital background. They said that they will definitely be in touch in the next week about a next round because they are fast-tracking the process (and the hiring manager is going on vacation for 2 weeks one week from now). I’m really destitute, having been strung along on contracts in this company while waiting for the right position to come along. This, I feel, is the right position for me.

    So here’s the actual question: Another part of the division just posted up two new jobs, both of which I’d be extremely qualified for and have personal connections with the hiring managers. They are looking to hire quickly. Personally, I’d prefer the job that I interviewed for today, but also know that they have to look at other candidates. It’s possible that they’ll find someone with all of the tech stuff they need who isn’t such a dreamer.

    All of these newly-created jobs are working with a small group of people on the same floor who all talk to one another on a daily basis. Do I apply to these newly-listed jobs knowing that they would be fall-backs for me, and that all of the tech people in this division gossip with one another…and that my applying might cross boundaries?

    I don’t want to miss out on an opportunity in case I don’t get this job that I really want, but I also don’t want the current people to think that I’m not dedicated to the job I just interviewed for–especially when I’m so committed to it. Did that even make sense? Is anyone still listening? Advice???

    1. Audiophile

      I would say apply, especially if you have connections with the divisions these two positions are listed for. You know that you may not get that other job, you’ve already stated you don’t want to possibly miss out on these opportunities. There’s no harm in applying.

      I regularly apply for jobs in different departments at companies. And most recently, I interviewed with multiple departments at company. They may or may not have conversed, I really have no way of knowing. (Though I did, subtly try to ascertain this info.)

      Go for it and good luck!

  81. Cruciatus

    Oh boy, I’m quite late to the party as well… I’m afraid to ask a “is it legal” question because I read so many that are unfair but legal but this one I really am unsure about. A coworker was given a raise (“cost of living increase”) that was signed by the provost of the school to be effective on her anniversary date but the change in pay didn’t take effect until the next pay period (paid biweekly). Should the change have been effective on her anniversary date as signed by the head of the college? If, say, her anniversary date had been on a Tuesday at the beginning of a new pay period, she would have been out nearly 2 weeks worth of her new pay waiting for the new pay period to come around. She politely asked HR about it but never received a response. This is in PA if it matters.

    1. Katie the Fed

      It sounds legal to me. WHere I work in the government, any personal action within a pay period isn’t effective until the next pay period. So if the anniversary was on a tuesday, it would make sense that it’s not effective until the next pay period.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Unless she has a contract saying she’ll get a raise on a certain date, they can make it effective on any day they want. It doesn’t have to be tied to the anniversary date.

    3. Colette

      I am not sure anything unexpected happened here. If her raise was effective Sept. 1 (for example) and she got paid Sept. 1, she wouldn’t see an increase until the 15th, because her Sept. 1 pay was for the previous 2 weeks at her old rate. Maybe I don’t understand what happened, though.

    4. Cruciatus

      Thanks for responding. The letter from the provost does say that the raise is effective as of her anniversary date and is signed by the provost. But perhaps that isn’t an actual contract. More just an “FYI”? In the paycheck she received from that pay period that includes her anniversary date, there was no change in pay. So the day of her anniversary date and the following days until the end of that pay period, she received the same pay as before. Just to clarify. But it sounds like it’s not abnormal to see the changes until the next pay period. It would suck though if someone’s anniversary date and pay raise came a day or two into the beginning of a new pay period but they didn’t see any changes until the next pay period. But sucks does not mean illegal so thanks everyone for responding!

  82. Anty

    In a resignation letter, who should you direct it to? The name of your manager or HR or both? Does it matter if its sent in an email or in a word attachment?

    1. Not So NewReader

      I usually say “To all concerned:”
      I figure they are going to pass copies to higher-ups, payroll, personnel, etc.

    2. Trixie

      AAM has a hold tab on resigning, but this one comes to mind:

      https://www.askamanager.org/2013/04/can-you-resign-over-the-phone.html

      “* People often think they have to write a formal resignation letter. While you can certainly do this if you want to, lots of people don’t and many employers don’t ask for them. But when they do, the point is to simply document that you resigned and what date it will be effective (in case you later sue, or file for unemployment and claim you were laid off, for instance). It only needs to be about two sentences. It’s not supposed to be an explanation of why you’re leaving, and what could have made you stay, and the drama you’ve had with your boss. You can certainly cover that in the resignation conversation, if you feel like it — but it doesn’t go in a letter.

      This is your letter, if you need one at all: “This letter is to let you know that I’m resigning my position, effective May 1. I’ve enjoyed my time here and wish Chocolate Teapots Inc. the best of luck.” The end.

      (And if you use a letter — which, again, you often don’t need to — you do not break the news this way. The letter comes after the conversation. Its purpose is documenting, not announcing.)”

  83. Schuyler Pierson

    A few thank-you’s to commenters on past open threads for the following:

    – Introducing me to Blind Gossip (Jamie, I think this was you, and I’m not sure I should thank you for it but BG is sooooo entertaining.)
    – The commenter who introduced us to PodQuiz, even if I shouldn’t be adding another podcast to my list (I won a prize from the recent bonus round! It’s almost embarrassing how excited I was.)
    – The commenter who mentioned The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; I needed a new version of P&P beyond the BBC version and Lost in Austen (and I can’t wait until Emma Approved starts and I can watch as it unfolds)

    I’m sure there are others, but these ones popped to mind. Thanks!

  84. Stella

    Hello!! I know this isn’t a psychology blog, but I had this urge to ask you something.
    I’m 19 and will start my third & final year of university next week. I always LOVED HR, like really loved it! I was so passionate about it since I have learned about it. But at the end of this year, I started burning out & I lost all motivation & interest in it. Does this thing normally happens? Do you ever feel that you might not have this woa feeling to your ambitions? Nothing bad really happened to change me, but I got burnt out (now finally all better). I really want a career in hr, but my passion is kinda lost.
    What can you do about it?
    Thank you!! :)
    (ps love your blog!!)

    1. Anty

      I’ve had thoughts about my major at the end of my senior year. I thought, “Now that school is almost over, what the hec am I suppose to do with my degree?” It could be like getting cold feet before your wedding day, but you came this far for a reason. I have a friend who went back to school again after graduating to study something completely different. Just remember that a degree shouldn’t dictate the type of career you want to have. It might help guide you and get you into a path to something, but let time tell. Good luck!

    2. Katie the Fed

      are you finding you have a passion for something else? Or just a lack of passion for HR?

      I think it’s normal to get cold feet – you’re about to make a big career committment – it can feel daunting. But remember that it’s not an irreversible decision either, if you find you don’t like it.

  85. Ruffingit

    Just a random site for everyone to try: freerice.com

    This site allows you to build your vocabulary, math skills, etc. while also contributing to the World Food Programme. You don’t have to donate money, every answer you get right donates 10 grains of rice. It’s very cool, check it out.

  86. AnotherLibrarian

    Coming late, but something just happened. Left OldJob about a month and a half ago as the new manager there wanted different things, let me know my job would be ending, and posted for new positions. I left earlier than she had projected since I found a new position, although I did give my two weeks’ notice. Now said manager is telling customers that I wasn’t very good and others had had to do my job for me the whole time. (Despite having excellent reviews and plenty of compliments before new manager arrived.) I’m still in the geographic area so getting word about this. Any point in trying to stop this? Most of me says “Ah, let it go, sour grapes” but a part of me says “I have a reputation to protect.” Thoughts?

    1. Ruffingit

      Not sure how you would protect your reputation here. Send a letter to the customers letting them know your old manager is incorrect? I think the best thing you can do here, unless she is hurting you economically with this in which case you’d need to see a lawyer, is let it go. There’s nothing you can really say. You have a new position, kick ass in that job and move on.

      1. Ruffingit

        Oh and to be clear, I’m not suggesting you send a letter to customers, I put that in there to demonstrate that it’s really the only way you could convey this to them and I should have added it wouldn’t be a very good idea because it would make you look rather odd. You don’t need to defend yourself against this woman.

        1. AnotherLibrarian

          Thank you; that’s rather what I was thinking, but hubby was pushing me to talk to Old Manager personally. Since she’s just insulting me in front of various praisers, I figure they’ll see through it anyway.

        2. Felicia

          totally agree with this, there’s nothing you can do. But everyone will see for themselves that old manager was totally making stuff up as soon as they interact with you. Best thing to do is probably enjoy the new positions, and your good work will eventually speak for itself to customers:)

    2. Job seeker

      Let it go. Most people would take what your manager said with a grain of salt anyway. Anyone that you dealt with would know her statement was not true. Everyday of our life we have a opportunity to behave in ways that no matter what anyone says about us our actions speak louder than their words. Always let everything you do make it so that if anyone speaks negatively, no-one would believe them.

  87. Non-profit HR

    I hope this doesn’t get lost in the incredible number of responses, but I’m curious what people think of video interviewing software, such as Hirevue (http://hirevue.com). I feel strongly that an interview should be conversational and not just a set sequence of questions, but has anyone used this type of platform? Has anyone found it effective? I’m curious if I’m missing something here.

    Thanks.

  88. Brton3

    What do you all do when you get a LinkedIn request from someone you don’t know? This happens to me fairly regularly. The people don’t appear to be spam accounts and often we have a number of connections in common. But the person is rarely in my industry or my area, and I usually can’t find anything to suggest a reason they reached out for a connection.

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